The Climate Disaster Bubbling in the Arctic

New research reveals that the amount of the potent greenhouse gas methane escaping from an area in the Arctic is over twice the amount previously estimated.

For the study published Sunday in the journal Nature Geoscience, researchers looked at the East Siberian Arctic Shelf, a 2-million square kilometer area off the coast of Northern Siberia, and used various techniques including sonar technology to measure the methane escaping.

“It is now on par with the methane being released from the arctic tundra, which is considered to be one of the major sources of methane in the Northern Hemisphere,” said Natalia Shakhova, a lead author of the study and a scientist at the University of Alaska Fairbanks.

Methane, 25 – 30 times more potent of a greenhouse gas than CO2, can be stored under the sea bed as hydrates if sub-sea permafrost remains frozen. The methane escapes when the permafrost thaws and holes are created. The study found that the release of the gas was abetted by storms, which churn up the waters and help speed release of the gas into the atmosphere.