Russian scientists that are monitoring the Arctic Ocean made an astonishing discovery: plumes of methane gas that can seriously add to the greenhouse effect of planet Earth were spotted in certain areas where the Arctic permafrost melted.
Methane is a gas 20 times more potent in comparison with carbon dioxide (the primary cause of greenhouse effect). This unprecedented methane released astonished even experienced scientists that are conducting surveys of the East Siberian Arctic Shelf for nearly 20 years. The Arctic seabed has never released such an amount of deadly gas in recorded history and this consists a serious problem for the entire planet, scientists suggest.
In an interview given for The Independent, the head of the Russian research team revealed his findings and tried to explain what such an emission could mean for the Earth. Such methane emissions are quite common when the permafrost melts, several being discovered in recent years; but these plumes of methane were only around ten meters in diameter. The brutal emission that occurred lately is thought to have around 1 kilometer in diameter (probably the biggest one ever recorded).
Studies conducted by the Russian scientists concluded that there should be millions of tones of methane under the Arctic permafrost, locked away in the seabed of East Siberian Arctic Shelf alone. Things can go really bad quickly in the next summer, when the sea-ice will melt due to rising temperatures and all the methane could be released in the atmosphere, adding to the already-existing greenhouse effect and could also cause serious climate change.
This year, the Academician vessel proceeded on a mission to conduct surveys of 10 000 square miles of the sea, using modern acoustic and seismic instruments in order to monitor the plumes of methane that were rising. The findings were extremely concerning given that the amount of methane gas was way above normal standards and its concentration was a hundred times higher than usual. Taking all this new data into consideration, estimates dating back to 2010 (that emissions were eight million tones per year) are proven to be extremely wrong, the real number being way bigger.