A research team made a worrisome discovery off the Siberian coast.
The scientists claim that frozen methane deposits in the Arctic Ocean have started to be released after determining that methane levels at the ocean’s surface were four to eight times higher than expected.
These high levels of the potent greenhouse gas have been detected down to a depth of 350 metres in the Laptev Sea near Russia.
The 60-member team on the Akademik Keldysh believe they are the first to observationally confirm the methane release is already under way across a wide area of the slope about 600km offshore. Really?
At six monitoring points over a slope area 150km in length and 10km wide, they saw clouds of bubbles released from sediment.
At one location on the Laptev Sea slope at a depth of about 300 metres they found methane concentrations of up to 1,600 nanomoles per litre, which is 400 times higher than would be expected if the sea and the atmosphere were in equilibrium.
Igor Semiletov, of the Russian Academy of Sciences, who is the chief scientist onboard, said the discharges were “significantly larger” than anything found before. “The discovery of actively releasing shelf slope hydrates is very important and unknown until now,” he said. “This is a new page. Potentially they can have serious climate consequences, but we need more study before we can confirm that.”
The most likely cause of the instability is an intrusion of warm Atlantic currents into the east Arctic.
For the second year in a row, this research team have found crater-like pockmarks in the shallower parts of the Laptev Sea and East Siberian Sea that are discharging bubble jets of methane, which is reaching the sea surface at levels tens to hundreds of times higher than normal.
This is similar to the craters and sinkholes reported from inland Siberian tundra earlier this autumn.
But while the discovery sounds alarming, it’s also been met with skepticism from some climate scientists.
This story is… unconvincing. First off it’s just two scientists (no publication), one of whom has made similar (unsupported) claims before & ignores the context that permafrost & methane have been degrading in this region since it was inundated in the early Holocene. https://t.co/EKI02cj2zT— Gavin Schmidt (@ClimateOfGavin) October 27, 2020
There are climate feedback mechanisms to be worried about. A supposed "Arctic Methane Bomb" isn't one of them. https://t.co/yuOtqYUIKq— Michael E. Mann (@MichaelEMann) October 27, 2020
Meanwhile, gigantic methane fields have been discovered around the world, i.e. along the Cascadia Subduction Zone in Washington and Oregon, off North Carolina’s coast, around Antarctica, near a giant submarine landslide in New Zealand, and in the German North Sea.