Not Just Oozing

Do you all think I should tell David about this?

In the past few days, the researchers have seen areas of sea foaming with gas bubbling up through “methane chimneys” rising from the sea floor. They believe that the sub-sea layer of permafrost, which has acted like a “lid” to prevent the gas from escaping, has melted away to allow methane to rise from underground deposits formed before the last ice age. …

Orjan Gustafsson of Stockholm University in Sweden, one of the leaders of the expedition, described the scale of the methane emissions in an email exchange sent from the Russian research ship Jacob Smirnitskyi.

“We had a hectic finishing of the sampling programme yesterday and this past night,” said Dr Gustafsson. “An extensive area of intense methane release was found. At earlier sites we had found elevated levels of dissolved methane. Yesterday, for the first time, we documented a field where the release was so intense that the methane did not have time to dissolve into the seawater but was rising as methane bubbles to the sea surface. These ‘methane chimneys’ were documented on echo sounder and with seismic [instruments].” …

“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. The growing evidence for release of methane in this inaccessible region may suggest that the permafrost lid is starting to get perforated and thus leak methane” …

4 thoughts on “Not Just Oozing

  1. Pingback: E as boas notícias não param! «

  2. We’ll have to see if the methane conentration noticeably rises, which would be a BAD THING. Methane is a pretty solid greenhouse gas.

  3. Isn’t this the mechanism thought to explain the Permian extinction?

    (When over 90% of all species perished)

  4. Maybe this is a stupid question and if so, I apologise but since when is there permafrost underwater? Are we talking of areas that have only recently become a part of the ocean/seas?

    How substantial are these emissions? It’s mentioned in the text that at some point the concentration of methane was so high that it formed bubbles. To the best of my knowledge (as a BSc in Chemistry) methane is not particularly soluble in water and as such the statement seems to be somewhat hollow. Were these big bubbles? Did the phenomenon occur over an extended period of time? Are these amounts of methane anything compared to the emissions from cattle and forests? Could this be methane formed by bacteria?

    This text leaves me with a lot of questions and I can’t help but get the feeling that I’ve just wasted several valuable minutes of my life reading yet more global-warming-pseudo-science.

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