Environment Science

Scientists May Have Cracked The Giant Siberian Crater Mystery — And The News Isn’t Good

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Recently Upriser reported a strange crater that appeared in the Siberian tundra. Now 2 more have appeared and the news isn’t so good.

It may be methane gas, released by the thawing of frozen ground. According to a recent Nature article, “air near the bottom of the crater contained unusually high concentrations of methane — up to 9.6% — in tests conducted at the site on 16 July, says Andrei Plekhanov, an archaeologist at the Scientific Centre of Arctic Studies in Salekhard, Russia. Plekhanov, who led an expedition to the crater, says that air normally contains just 0.000179% methane.”

The scientist said the methane release may be related to Yamal’s unusually hot summers in 2012 and 2013, which were warmer by an average of 5 degrees Celsius. “As temperatures rose, the researchers suggest, permafrost thawed and collapsed, releasing methane that had been trapped in the icy ground,”

[On SITE VIDEO](http://wapo.st/1rBa3Yo)

He would like to study how much methane is contained in the air trapped inside the crater’s walls. Such a task, however, could be difficult. “Its rims are slowly melting and falling into the crater,” the researcher told the science publication. “You can hear the ground falling, you can hear the water running; it’s rather spooky.”

“Gas pressure increased until it was high enough to push away the overlaying layers in a powerful injection, forming the crater,” explained geochemist Hans-Wolfgang Hubberten of Germany’s Alfred Wegener Institute, adding that he’s never seen anything like the crater.

Some scientists contend the thawing of such terrain, rife with centuries of carbon, would release incredible amounts of methane gas and affect global temperatures. “Pound for pound, the comparative impact of [methane gas] on climate change is over 20 times greater than [carbon dioxide] over a 100-year period,” reported the Environmental Protection Agency.

As the Associated Press put it in 2010, the melting of Siberia’s permafrost is “a climate time bomb waiting to explode if released into the atmosphere.”

Researchers with Stockholm University’s Department of Applied Environmental Science recently witnessed methane releases in the East Siberian Arctic Ocean. They found that “elevated methane levels [were] about ten times higher than in background seawater,” wrote scientist Orjan Gustafsson on his blog last week. He added: “This was somewhat of a surprise … This is information that is crucial if we are to be able to provide scientific estimations of how these methane releases may develop in the future.”

[SOURCE](http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2014/08/05/scientists-may-have-cracked-the-giant-siberian-crater-mystery-and-the-news-isnt-good/?hpid=z1)

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“Scientists May Have Cracked The Giant Siberian Crater Mystery — And The News Isn’t Good”