There are over 7,000 gas-filled bubbles in remote parts of Siberia that are set to explode, scientists have discovered. Following extensive field expeditions and satellite surveys, researchers in Russia have identified thousands of bulging bumps in the Yamal and Gydan peninsulas – far more than they had expected.
Alexey Titovsky, director of Yamal department for science and innovation, told the Siberian Times that understanding the bubbles is of paramount important to assessing the risk they pose.
In July last year, scientists released footage of the ground on Bely Island wobbling underfoot. When they punctured them, methane and carbon dioxide was released. It is thought an abnormally warm summer had caused the permafrost to thaw, leading to the release of methane that had been locked up in the ground. At present, it is thought this process is behind the emergence of the numerous craters that have appeared over recent years – including the ‘gateway to the underworld’ crater near Batagaiin.
Thawing permafrost as a result of global warming is expected to lead to more methane release in the future, a spokesman from the Ural branch of Russian Academy of Science said. “An abnormally warm summer in 2016 on the Yamal peninsula must have added to the process,” they added.
On Bely Island, scientists found methane was 1,000 times above normal, while CO2 was around 25 times higher. “As we took off a layer of grass and soil, a fountain of gas erupted,” one of the scientists working at the site explained.
The release of methane from the thawing permafrost is of huge concern to climate scientists. Max Holmes, the deputy director and senior scientist at theWoods Hole Research Centre, told IBTimes UK it could lead to the collapse of human infrastructures, like roads and towns, as well as creating a feedback cycle that results in even more warming.
The increased global warming the released methane will engender is bad enough, but as ‘hard science’ author Kim Stanley Robinson’s Sixty Days and Counting (the final book in his Science in the Capital Trilogy) depicts, methane overload can cause a literal burning hell on earth.
Trust us, this isn’t going to end well.