Siberian Sinkholes Transition to Lakes

June 28, 2022

Working on a piece about methane, in the arctic and globally.
Not sure I can finish it before I go to Greenland this weekend, but here’s a piece I got from Scott Dallimore at the Geological Survey of Canada, Russian video narrated by Marina Leibman of the Earth Cryosphere Institute in Tyumen, Russia.

I’ll be looking at what we know about the so-called “Siberian Sinkholes” that have sparked so much speculation over the last decade, and what they may be telling us about changes in permafrost, and releases of methane to the atmosphere.
A number of people contacted me after a recent PBS special on the structures suggested that they may represent an as yet poorly understood pathway for geologic methane deposits trapped under permafrost to reach the atmosphere as the planet warms.

I reached out to Katey Walter Anthony and Vladimir Romanovsky of the University of Alaska at Fairbanks, and Dr. Romanovsky put me in touch with Dr. Dallimore as well.
For now, this video has some critical clues – the identification of a crack or crevice at the base of one fresh sinkhole, possibly a pathway for deeper methane deposits that may have seeped upward and become trapped beneath shallow layers until bursting forth.
Questions to be answered: Is that indeed the mechanism? Is this a new phenomenon? Does this represent an important new source of greenhouse gas?
In Greenland, I’ll be joining a team from Charles University (Prague) who are measuring methane releases from melting ice, potentially another novel pathway, so that could play into the evolving story.
Stay tuned.

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