Quantcast

7,000 Gas Bubbles Expected to 'Explode' in Siberia

Popular

A pair of researchers discovered 15 methane-filled bubbles in Siberia's Bely Island last July that wobbled like a waterbed when stepped on.

Well, we really hate to burst these bubbles, but further research into the wider Yamal and Gydan peninsulas has uncovered about 7,000 more of these mysterious mounds.

Scientists believe that these bumps are caused by thawing permafrost releasing methane.


The scariest part? Scientists say the gas bubbles are expected to explode and can create anything from small potholes to massive craters like the ones that have been appearing across the region in recent years.

"At first, such a bump is a bubble, or 'bulgunyakh' in the local Yakut language," said Alexey Titovsky, director of the Yamal Department for Science and Innovation, according to The Siberian Times.

"With time, the bubble explodes, releasing gas. This is how gigantic funnels form."

The sudden appearance of giant craters in the Siberian permafrost has been linked to climate change. The exact explanation behind the craters is unclear but the most prominent theory is that unseasonably high temperatures have released methane stored in the permafrost, causing a sort of explosion that forms the craters.

"We need to know which bumps are dangerous and which are not," Titovsky emphasized about the new discovery. "Scientists are working on detecting and structuring signs of potential threat, like the maximum height of a bump and pressure that the earth can withstand."

Researchers Alexander Sokolov and Dorothee Ehrich discovered the first 15 of these bulges last summer. When Sokolov and Ehrich punctured one of the spots, the air that escaped contained 200 times more methane and 20 times more carbon dioxide than the surrounding air.

Scientists accurately predicted back then that more bubbles would be found due to 2016's record-hot temperatures.

The Ural branch of the Russian Academy of Science confirmed with The Siberian Times that thawing permafrost is a suspected explanation for the gas bubbles.

"Their appearance at such high latitudes is most likely linked to thawing permafrost which in is in turn linked to overall rise of temperature on the north of Eurasia during last several decades," a spokesman said. "An abnormally warm summer in 2016 on the Yamal peninsula must have added to the process."

The Yamal peninsula experienced temperatures reaching 35 degrees Celsius (95 degrees Fahrenheit) last summer.

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Truth in Action is a day-long global conversation on the climate crisis and how we solve it. The Climate Reality Project

Former Vice President Al Gore kicked off 24 hours of climate talks in the U.S. and 77 other countries around the world Wednesday night.

Read More Show Less
Activists highlighted the climate emergency outside Scottish Government headquarters at St Andrew's House in Edinburgh on Oct. 13, 2017. Usage of the term "climate emergency" spiked in 2019, according to Oxford Dictionaries.

By Jessica Corbett

Climate advocates and experts celebrated Oxford Dictionaries' announcement Wednesday that "climate emergency" is the Oxford Word of the Year 2019.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Using more bamboo for building could slow climate change. kazuend / Unsplash

By Kieran Cooke

There could be a way of countering one key aspect of the climate emergency by making much greater use of a widely-available plant: bamboo building.

Read More Show Less
Fossil fueled power plant pictured before a rain. glasseyes view / Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

Governments are producing fossil fuels at a rate 120 percent above compliance with Paris agreement goals, a landmark report from the UN Environment Programme found.

Read More Show Less
Ten Democratic primary candidates participated in the fifth Democratic debate in Atlanta Wednesday night. Alex Wong / Getty Images

The moderators of the fifth Democratic primary debate in Atlanta Wednesday night only asked one question about the climate crisis, Grist reported Thursday.

Read More Show Less