Thursday, July 21, 2016

Bouncy grass in Siberia hiding dangerous secret - Update

Scientists on a recent recent expedition to Belyy Island in the Kara Sea off the northern coast of Russia, just off the Yamal Peninsula came across dozens of patches of grass with bubbles of carbon dioxide and methane underneath.

It's likely a small sample of things to come as the planet warms. This summer has been unusually hot on the island. It's similar to a phenomenon that grabbed headlines when first detected in Siberia several years ago ... the formation of massive craters in parts of northern Siberia. Experts believe they were caused by explosions of methane that had built up. One such blast on the Taimyr Peninsula in 2013 could be heard 100 km away.
Melting permafrost gives off greenhouse gases such as methane. Vast tracts of permafrost have been frozen for thousands of years, trapping nutrients that are a feast for bacteria when they melt. These bacteria give off methane as a byproduct.

This is a major problem because methane is far more potent a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide ... more than 70 times the short-term warming potential. This is a too real example of a feedback loop that will accelerate warming.
Siberia's blowholes are exploding in numbers: Up to 20 have now been located, raising new fears the warming permafrost is releasing its methane reserves. Expeditions to the bottom of several craters late last year appeared to support speculation that they may have been caused by pockets of defrosted methane gas erupting though the softening surface. Deep lakes of methane-infused “slurry” were found beneath.

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