NASA’s Tom Wagner on Siberian Holes and Methane

August 21, 2014

Description from PBS Newshour:

When holes opened up in the earth recently in Siberia, a wave of speculation was set off as to their cause. Scientists are now pinpointing a dramatic increase in arctic thawing, which may have released methane once trapped below the frozen ground. For a better understanding, Judy Woodruff talks to Tom Wagner of NASA.


9 Responses to “NASA’s Tom Wagner on Siberian Holes and Methane”

  1. Alan Olson Says:

    This guy is talking like we’re all 6 years old. ‘Really difficult to get to,,,’ Total BS. Etc.
    Grow some balls, people.

    • dumboldguy Says:

      More like he was talking to 10 or 12-year-olds, IMO. Seven minutes of “good press” on PBS about climate change is still something to feel good about, though, yes?.

      I AM a little concerned about the “hard to get to” and “nobody has gone and looked at the holes” BS. Does anyone smell “they don’t want us to know the full truth about this”?, or am I just being paranoid? The whole phenomenon looks pretty scary in its implications, and I don’t buy the “sinkhole that then ‘burped’ some ejecta” explanation.

  2. […] Description from PBS Newshour: When holes opened up in the earth recently in Siberia, a wave of speculation was set off as to their cause. Scientists are now pinpointing a dramatic increase in arct…  […]

  3. redskylite Says:

    I agree that it is positive press and draws attention to the above average warming that is being experienced at high Northern latitudes, although a little understated . Certainly a research team from the Scientific Center of Arctic Studies has inspected one of the craters and confirmed very high methane readings in the lower regions of the hole (50,000 times the atmospheric average). Recent reports from Stockholm University confirm observations of methane bubbling from the Laptev sea bed the Arctic, we should be in little doubt of the dramatic events happening up in the higher Northern latitudes. We can see the amazingly large areas of dark snow and soot from the latest “dark snow” expedition, out of sight out of mind no longer cuts it.

  4. This phenomenon could be explained by thawing and freezing. If the upper layer in a flat area thaws and then the top refreezes, the frozen part confines the saturated lower layer. As it freezes deeper, the soil expands, which builds pressure below–there is a large artesian head. During the warm season it thaws unevenly, and the area that thaws first produces an escape route for the pressurized groundwater.

    The pressure has nothing to do with methane, but the groundwater is anaerobic, so the decay of organics produces methane, which can also escape through the hole.

    • dumboldguy Says:

      Sounds plausible at first glance, but not likely. The “active” layer of permafrost is the only part that melts and refreezes, and it ranges from 2 to 13 feet deep.

      This hole goes a lot deeper than the active layer and IMO something bigger than a seasonal thawing and refreezing has to be behind it.

    • Phillip Shaw Says:

      I agree with those skeptical of the sinkhoe hypothesis. We’ve seen sinkholes open up in a number of regions and I’ve never seen that much material ejected. You can judge the magnitude of the material from the shots of researchers standing next to it. That wasn’t a mud slurry, those are multi-ton chunks of dirt. Furthermore, sinkholes typically form in karst regions when solution cavities collapse. Siberia isn’t a karst region. For the Siberian craters – if they are sinkholes, where did the material sink to?

      I would like to know more about the levels of CH4 within the craters. Do all of the craters have comparable levels? Are the CH4 concentrations rising, falling or stable. Do the levels fluctuate in an annual cycle, i.e. does the CH4 release stop or slow down in winter? This data will take a lot of work to gather, but I feel it’s needed to really understand what’s causing the craters and how significant they may be.

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