Scientists have today warned that global warming could rapidly accelerate as millions of tons of methane escape from the arctic seabed. According to preliminary findings, as the Arctic region gets warmer massive deposits of the greenhouse gas – 20 times more potent than carbon dioxide – are rising to the surface.
Orjan Gustafsson of Stockholm University, one of the expedition’s leaders, said in an email from their Russian research ship that, for the first time, the team had discovered an extensive area of methane release so intense that “the methane did not have time to dissolve into the seawater but was rising as methane bubbles to the sea surface.” The team believe that the accelerated release is connected to rising temperatures throughout the Arctic region.
Gustafsson went on to report that “the conventional thought has been that the permafrost ‘lid’ on the sub-sea sediments on the Siberian shelf should cap and hold the massive reservoirs of shallow methane deposits in place.” However, extensive research across thousands of square miles of the Arctic seabed had revealed growing evidence “that the permafrost lid is starting to get perforated and thus leak methane.”
Image Credit – Nick_Russill via Flickr on a Creative Commons License