Score another point for global warming because changing conditions in the Arctic Ocean could have a drastic effect on the climate.
Russian scientists have discovered hundreds of plumes of methane gas bubbling to the surface of the Arctic Ocean, according to The Independent. The gas, 20 times as harmful as carbon dioxide, is usually kept in check by Siberian permafrost and Arctic sea ice but rapidly rising temperatures across the region are causing these elements to melt, releasing the previously captured methane into the atmosphere. With studies estimating hundreds of millions of tons of methane gas locked away, a sudden release could result in rapid and severe climate changes on a global scale.
Dr. Igor Semiletov, of the Far Eastern branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences, and his team published a study in 2010 that estimated methane emissions from this region were around eight million tons a year. That amount has changed substantially since then.
“We carried out checks at about 115 stationary points and discovered methane fields of a fantastic scale – I think on a scale not seen before,” Dr. Semiletov says. “Some plumes were a kilometer or more wide and the emissions went directly into the atmosphere – the concentration was a hundred times higher than normal.”