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?”

One thought 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) https://unearthed.greenpeace.org/2020/07/03/arctic-permafrost-pandemic-life-uh-finds-a-way/
    “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) https://www.businessinsider.com/28-prehistoric-viruses-unknown-science-glacier-ice-guliya-2021-8

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