More Siberian Weirdness

July 22, 2016

Siberian Times:

This extraordinary sight – in a video filmed of the tundra on remote Belyy Island in the Kara Sea off the Yamal Peninsula coastline – was witnessed by a scientific research expedition. Researchers Alexander Sokolov and Dorothee Ehrich spotted 15 patches of trembling or bubbling grass-covered ground.

When punctured they emitted methane and carbon dioxide, according to measurements, although so far no details have been given. The reason is as yet unclear, but one possible explanation of the phenomenon is abnormal heat that caused permafrost to thaw, releasing gases.

Alexander Sokolov said that this summer is unusually hot on the Arctic island, a sign of which is polar bears moving from the frozen sea to the island.

Scientists have warned at the potential catastrophic impact of global warming leading to the release into the atmosphere of harmful gases hitherto frozen in the ground or under the sea. A possibility is that the trembling tundra on Bely Island is this process in action.

Further south, on the Yamal and Taimyr peninsulas, scientists are actively observing a number of craters that have suddenly formed in the permafrost.

When the craters first appeared on the Yamal Peninsula – known to locals as “the end of the world” – they sparked bizarre theories as to their formation.

They ranged from meteorites to stray missiles fired by Vladimir Putin’s military machine and from manmade pranks to the work of visiting aliens. Most experts now believe they were created by explosions of methane gas unlocked by warming temperatures in the far north of Russia.

On Yamal, the main theory is that the craters were formed by pingos – dome-shaped mounds over a core of ice – erupting under pressure of methane gas released by the thawing of permafrost caused by climate change.

The Yamal craters, some tiny but others large, were created by natural gas filling vacant space in ice humps, eventually triggering eruptions, according to leading authority Professor Vasily Bogoyavlensky, of Moscow’s Oil and Gas Research Institute.

Recently there were accounts of a ‘big bang’ leading to the formation of a crater on the Taimyr Peninsula.

The noise could be heard up to 100 kilometres away and one resident. They saw a ‘glow in the sky’ after the explosion. 


10 Responses to “More Siberian Weirdness”

  1. climatebob Says:

    When you look at a long range .photo of the Yamal peninsular the whole region is covered with the remains of these explosions. How long has has this been going on? I am quite prepared to believe that this is exploding methane and that it is getting worse but we need more research to get a handle on the scale of the problem.

  2. Kiwiiano Says:

    Anyone measuring atmospheric methane in the region?

    • dumboldguy Says:

      Climate Bob is right—-we need more research (and more cowbell)

      Google “methane monitoring in the arctic nasa”, and you’ll get a lot of hits that nibble around Kiwiiano’s question but don’t answer it well. The very first hit has some great general info on methane, and others talk about the monitoring aircraft that they are now testing.

      The NASA Earth Observatory website is a good one to subscribe to—-weekly updates with satellite imagery of various “earthy” things, brief but informative articles, and lots of good links.

      What attempts we are making are perhaps too little too late, but we must remember that Evil Ted Cruz would rather see man go to Mars than have NASA do earth observations that may save the human race from extinction here on Earth. Those couple of dozen humans that may make it to Mars and survive there for a while will be grateful to him.

      (Note that just about every other NASA “hit” includes the words “However, it’s hard to monitor carbon dioxide in the Far North”. That’s true for methane as well, and doubly hard when you’re not really trying very hard).

      • Gingerbaker Says:

        “t we must remember that Evil Ted Cruz would rather see man go to Mars than have NASA do earth observations:”

        I don’t care which he would prefer so long as he funds both. Accepting that we don’t have enough do re mi for Mars exploration is ceding the battle.

        We have got plenty enough dough to give everyone nice things – this is “the greatest country on Earth”. Demand they prove it.

        • dumboldguy Says:

          Has the heat dome gotten to Vermont and melted your brain? Let’s hope it doesn’t melt Bernie’s brain this week and that he does all the right things at the convention. His spoiled children need to get on board with Hillary.

          “We have got plenty enough dough to give everyone nice things”, you say? I hope you’re kidding, or that’s just “heat dementia” speaking, because that’s simply not true, and the only people who have gotten “nice things” are the greedy rich who are sucking up more and more of the wealth and income in this country.

          We CANNOT afford to support both pie-in-the-sky Mars ventures and a proper earth observation program, especially when Evil Ted and his Repugnant buddies are trying to gut NASA and want to eliminate the EPA., the IRS, the SEC, and any other agency that gets in the way of their accumulating more $$$$. You are dreaming if you think the Repugnants will support “both”, because that is NOT what their corporate oligarch-plutocrat owners are paying them for.

          I won’t bore everyone with the same old comments about how downright stupid all the talk of sending men to Mars really is. I’m still trying to get over the recent gushing editorial in the Washington Post about how Jupiter exploration is so wonderful because it will help us “understand our origins”. JFC! Our “origins” are far in our past and utterly irrelevant, and it’s our rapidly disappearing future that we should be concerned about—-like studying the origins and impacts of the methane “burps” and craters that are becoming ever more common. Irreversible positive feedback loops are lurking out there.

  3. Marina Leibman was the Russian scientist who was first called to the scene of the first crater. (You can find Revkin’s interview with her in the NYTimes, although you may not be able to penetrate the recording and her accent). She returned to the site later to study the phenomenon and published a paper, concluding that the crater was likely formed by the thawing and expansion of clathrates, with cryopegs (veins of ice, as I understand them) being the key mechanism for the transmission of heat from the surface to deep below (70 meters). she observed that many similar craters formed in the region at the time of the Holocene Thermal Maximum, and that they are distinguished from thermokarsts, with which the region is densely strewn, by their small diameter, round shape, and their much greater depth. Thermokarsts are typically shallow and elongated.

    Clathrates expand to gas at a ratio of 160:1; apparently this is the physical mechanism that led to the column of earth breaking free and ending in a mound around the hole. I don’t find anything in the explanation from the Oil and Gas Research Institute scientist that would explain how such an eruption would evolve.

    The Liebman paper is short, interesting and worth a read:

    Click to access gi214_sverka.pdf

    Revkin interview:

  4. ubrew12 Says:

    Long ago, I was in Kodiak Island, AK and they sold T-shirts and bumper-stickers that said “Kodiak Island – It’s not the end of the World, but you can see it from here.” And so, in more ways than one, I guess they were right…

  5. redskylite Says:

    Presently there is uncontrolled wildfire taking place around the peninsular, wildfire and methane gas pockets a dangerous mix.

    Siberia’s wildfires seen from 1 million miles away: even the tundra is burning

    “Currently, as we outline below, there are worrying reports of the tundra burning in the Arctic Yamal Peninsula, as well as other damaging fires, for example a 3,000 hectare blaze at the Lena Pillars Nature Park – a UNESCO World Heritage Site – which was finally extinguished in recent days in Yakutia, also known as Sakha Republic.

    Ecologists say the fires pose a direct threat to the role of Siberian pristine Boreal forests in absorbing climate-warming emissions.

    And as the weather turns drier and warmer, the forests become more prone to wildfires. Annually the Russian forests absorb a net 500 million tonnes of carbon from the atmosphere, equivalent to the emissions put off over a year by 534 coal-burning power plants.”

  6. redskylite Says:

    A little more information from the Siberian Times . . .

    Lets hope this is followed up.

    He explained: ‘The day after seeing this bubble, we came across another one. As shown on our video, we punctured it and, let’s say, ‘air’ starting coming out quickly.

    ‘It had no smell – and there was no liquid (eruption). When we returned to our camp, we started discussing the phenomenon with colleagues and decided to find out what was the gas coming out of it.

    ‘Our colleagues gave us a gas analyser worth 7 million roubles ($10,850). This device measures the concentration of the two greenhouse gas, carbon dioxide and methane. Gases are typically measured in parts per million or ppm.

    ‘The gas analyser showed that one of these gases was dozens of times higher and another was hundreds of times higher than normal.’

    The peak CO2 measurement was 7750 ppm, the CH4 reading was 375 ppm.

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