Siberia is thawing. But, wait, there’s more!

Scientists have long been worried about what many call “the methane bomb” — the potentially catastrophic release of methane from thawing wetlands in Siberia’s permafrost.

But now a study by three geologists says that a heat wave in 2020 has revealed a surge in methane emissions “potentially in much higher amounts” from a different source: thawing rock formations in the Arctic permafrost…

The difference is that thawing wetlands releases “microbial” methane from the decay of soil and organic matter, while thawing limestone — or carbonate rock — releases hydrocarbons and gas hydrates from reservoirs both below and within the permafrost, making it “much more dangerous” than past studies have suggested…

“What we do know with quite a lot of confidence is how much carbon is locked up in the permafrost. It’s a big number and as the Earth warms and permafrost thaws, that ancient organic matter is available to microbes for microbial processes and that releases CO2 and methane,” Robert Max Holmes said. “If something in the Arctic is going to keep me up at night that’s still what it is.” But he said the paper warranted further study…

The study said that gas hydrates in the Earth’s permafrost are estimated to contain 20 gigaton of carbon, approximately four times the amount present in atmospheric methane.

At the moment no one has a clue what the potential threat from this carbon is or will be as the climate warms. The only question is “How bad will the news be?”

5 thoughts on “Siberia is thawing. But, wait, there’s more!

  1. Nightmare fuel says:

    “The permafrost pandemic: could the melting Arctic release a deadly disease?
    As the Arctic heats up, a group of scientists are interrogating the risk that deadly diseases from the distant past may return” (3/7/20)
    “28 prehistoric viruses unknown to science were found in a glacial ice cores. They are thought to be around 15,000 years old.” (8/5/21)

  2. Круто says:

    The Bermuda Triangle of Yamal (2015)
    “The expedition arranged by the Trofimuk Institute of Petroleum Geology and Geophysics, Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Novosibirsk, Russia, in cooperation with the Gazprom Research Institute of Natural Gases and Gas Technologies in September 2014, conducted an integrated geological, geophysical, and geochemical study of a unique recent geologic object, the Yamal crater. The official opinion of Siberian scientists as to the nature of the phenomenon that flooded conventional and electronic mass media channels is based on the preliminary analysis of the information gathered. It is hypothesized that the crater arose owing to an avalanche methane ejection at a geologic fault intersection”

  3. So it goes says:

    Even when temperatures drop to 75 degrees Celsius below zero — that’s a startling -103 Fahrenheit, some of the frostiest temperatures on Earth — massive “zombie fires” continue to burn below parts of Siberia, United Press International reports [link].
    The area contains some of the coldest permanently inhabited places on the planet, like Oimaykon, a rural jurisdiction populated by only around 500 people. [includes video]
    While climate change is the primary driver of permafrost degradation in Arctic Alaska, a new analysis of 70 years of data reveals that tundra fires are accelerating that decline, contributing disproportionately to a phenomenon known as “thermokarst,” the abrupt collapse of ice-rich permafrost as a result of thawing.
    The Arctic permafrost is a vast storehouse of frozen plant and animal matter, a carbon stockpile that, if thawed and degraded, could more than double the amount of carbon in the atmosphere, researchers say.”

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