Researchers during an expedition to the Eastern Arctic, found an area of the sea bubbling with methane gasses – nine time higher than the global average. Igor Semiletor, lead researcher from Tomsk Polytechnic University, said the group had located the “the most powerful gas fountain I’ve ever seen”. Mr Semiletor added: “No one has ever recorded anything like this before.”
Mr Semiletor made the discovery during his 45th trip to the Arctic and said his team could scoop the boiling methane bubbles of water into buckets.
He added: “It is manifested by an increase in methane concentration in air up to 16 ppm [millionths of a share], which is nine times more than the average planetary values.
“No one has ever registered this before.”
Methane bubbles are increasingly found in lakes, rivers and oceans due to the rising temperature of the Earth.
The bubbles emit harmful greenhouse gasses back into the Earth’s atmosphere.
The potent gas is up to 25 times more efficient at trapping heat than carbon dioxide.
The lead researcher compared finding methane bubbles in the Siberian sea to “finding a needle in a haystack”.
The team made the breakthrough after spotting an emerald colour against the background of dark water.
Mr Semiletor said: “It’s one thing to fix this phenomenon with the help of special instruments, and it’s quite another to see the methane emission to the surface of the water with your own eyes.
“No matter how accurate the equipment showing the coordinates of the sip, to find a place in the sea waves for a breakthrough of gas into the atmosphere is more complicated than finding a needle in a haystack. And, nevertheless, the expedition members succeeded!
“On the right side of the Keldysh, they saw a spot of emerald colour against the background of dark water. Approaching it, scientists were able to observe how gas rises from the black depths of the sea to the surface with thousands of bubble filaments.”
The research team stumbled on the surprise discovery during an exploration into the environmental consequences of permafrost thawing beneath the ocean.
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Permafrost is ground which is permanently frozen – in the Arctic areas have been frozen solid for thousands of years.
According to the National Snow & Ice Data Center an area is considered to be permafrost when it remains below 0C for at least two years.
Permafrost currently covers about 8.7 million square miles of the Northern Hemisphere.
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