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.
Huge New Methane Blowholes in Siberia Have Scientists Worried Climate Change Is to Blame http://t.co/Lx0h8DGkaf @ukycc @zerocarbonworld— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch)1424912451.0
"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.
Mysterious Air Bubbles Make Siberian Land Act Like a Waterbed - EcoWatch https://t.co/sl1xRy768a @beyondzeronews@unredd— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch)1469914815.0
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.
In 2018, a team of researchers went to West Africa's Nimba Mountains in search of one critically endangered species of bat. Along the way, they ended up discovering another.
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By Suresh Dhaniyala and Byron Erath
A fast-spreading variant of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 has been found in at least 10 states, and people are wondering: How do I protect myself now?
Airborne Particles Are Still the Biggest Problem<p>The <a href="https://theconversation.com/why-it-matters-that-the-coronavirus-is-changing-and-what-this-means-for-vaccine-effectiveness-152383" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">SARS-CoV-2 variants</a> are believed to spread primarily through the air rather than on surfaces.</p><p>When someone with the coronavirus in their respiratory tract coughs, talks, sings or even just breathes, infectious respiratory droplets can be expelled into the air. These droplets are tiny, predominantly in the range of <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0021850211001200?casa_token=KtyrsEfbeqcAAAAA:vv10sSxm33tzg0EQvNMIFtV7GCu5gE9QAzuyzHKr2_4Cl0OFkUJoGwzn4d0ZnEWS19NsOTuH" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">1-100 micrometers</a>. For comparison, a human hair is about 70 micrometers in diameter.</p><p>The larger droplets fall to the ground quickly, rarely traveling farther than 6 feet from the source. The bigger problem for disease transmission is the tiniest droplets – those less than 10 micrometers in diameter – which can remain suspended in the air as aerosols for <a href="https://academic.oup.com/cid/article/50/5/693/325466" target="_blank">hours at a time</a>.</p>
<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="bb67b83dcafe589f350daf3df60fa29d"><iframe lazy-loadable="true" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/UNCNM7AZPFg?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span>
What Can You Do to Stay Safe?<p>1) Pay attention to the type of face mask you use, and how it fits.</p><p>Most off-the-shelf face coverings are not 100% effective at preventing droplet emission. With the new variant spreading more easily and likely infectious at lower concentrations, it's important to select coverings with materials that are most effective at stopping droplet spread.</p><p>When available, N95 and surgical masks consistently perform the best. Otherwise, face coverings that use <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2352431620301802?casa_token=-Dj6nGBAm24AAAAA:qq9BpbzCKaPDFcV73ohA2fCnhE_Zlkss6Bei3kUwq9QYndhHj0Vafbbd-ef_855lx6knDfUt" target="_blank">multiple layers of material</a> are preferable. Ideally, the material should be a tight weave. High thread count cotton sheets are an example. Proper fit is also crucial, as gaps around the nose and mouth can <a href="https://pubs.acs.org/doi/10.1021/acsnano.0c03252" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">decrease the effectiveness by 50%</a>.</p><p>2) Follow social distancing guidelines.</p><p>While the current social distancing guidelines are not perfect – <a href="https://theconversation.com/what-a-smoky-bar-can-teach-us-about-the-6-foot-rule-during-the-covid-19-pandemic-145517" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">6 feet isn't always enough</a> – they do offer a useful starting point. Because aerosol concentrations levels and infectivity are highest in the space immediately surrounding anyone with the virus, increasing physical distancing can help reduce risk. Remember that people are infectious <a href="https://medical.mit.edu/faqs/COVID-19#faq-10" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">before they start showing symptoms</a>, and they many never show symptoms, so don't count on seeing signs of illness.</p><p>3) Think carefully about the environment when entering an enclosed area, both the ventilation and how people interact.</p><p>Limiting the size of gatherings helps reduce the potential for exposure. Controlling indoor environments in other ways can also be a highly effective strategy for reducing risk. This includes <a href="https://theconversation.com/what-a-smoky-bar-can-teach-us-about-the-6-foot-rule-during-the-covid-19-pandemic-145517" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">increasing ventilation rates</a> to bring in <a href="https://theconversation.com/keeping-indoor-air-clean-can-reduce-the-chance-of-spreading-coronavirus-149512" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">fresh air and filtering existing air</a> to dilute aerosol concentrations.</p><p>On a personal level, it is helpful to pay attention to the types of interactions that are taking place. For example, many individuals shouting can create a higher risk than one individual speaking. In all cases, it's important to minimize the amount of time spent indoors with others.</p><p>The CDC has warned that B.1.1.7 could <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/70/wr/mm7003e2.htm?s_cid=mm7003e2_w" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">become the dominant SARS-CoV-2 variant</a> in the U.S. by March. Other fast-spreading variants have also been found in <a href="https://virological.org/t/genomic-characterisation-of-an-emergent-sars-cov-2-lineage-in-manaus-preliminary-findings/586" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Brazil</a> and <a href="https://www.who.int/csr/don/31-december-2020-sars-cov2-variants/en/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">South Africa</a>. Increased vigilance and complying with health guidelines should continue to be of highest priority.</p>
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