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'On the Eve of the First World War, the single Siberian province of Irkutsk was larger than all of India'
W.Bruce Lincoln

7,000 underground gas bubbles poised to 'explode' in Arctic

By The Siberian Times reporter
20 March 2017

Bulging bumps in the Yamal and Gydan peninsulas believed to be caused by thawing permafrost releasing methane.

'With time the bubble explodes, releasing gas. This is how gigantic funnels form.' Picture: Yamal Region

Scientists have discovered as many as 7,000 gas-filled 'bubbles' expected to explode in Actic regions of Siberia after an exercise involving field expeditions and satellite surveillance, TASS reported.

A number of large craters - seen on our images here - have appeared on the landscape in northern Siberia in recent years and they are being carefully studied by scientists who believe they were formed when pingos exploded.  

Alexey Titovsky, director of Yamal department for science and innovation, said:  'At first such a bump is a bubble, or 'bulgunyakh' in the local Yakut language. 

'With time the bubble explodes, releasing gas. This is how gigantic funnels form.' 

Giant gas bubbles


Giant gas bubbles


Giant gas bubbles

Bulging bumps in the Yamal and Gydan peninsulas believed to be caused by thawing permafrost releasing methane. Pictures: Yamal Region

The total of 7,000 - reported by TASS -  is startlingly more than previously known. 

The region has seen several recent examples of sudden 'craters' or funnels forming from pingos after what scientists believe are caused by eruptions from methane gas  released by the thawing of permafrost which is triggered by climate change.

'We need to know which bumps are dangerous and which are not,' said Titovsky. 'Scientists are working on detecting and structuring signs of potential threat, like the maximum height of a bump and pressure that the earth can withstand.'

He said: 'Work will continue all through 2017.'

These bubbles  - such as one seen in our video on Bely Island - have been called 'trembling tundra'. Video: Alexander Sokolov

Scientists are drawing up a map of underground gas bubbles in Yamal, a key energy production region, which they believe can harm transport and  infrastructure. 

The Ural branch of Russian Academy of Science says that thawing permafrost is a suspected reason for the cause of underground gas bubble formation. 'An early of gas bubbles was discovered during a summer 2016 expedition to Bely island,' said a spokesman.

Our pictures and video of this remarkable gas release are seen here, although this phenomenon appears different to the exploding pingo events. These bubbles  - such as one seen in our video on Bely Island - have been called 'trembling tundra'.

'Their appearance at such high latitudes is most likely linked to thawing permafrost which in is in turn linked to overall rise of temperature on the north of Eurasia during last several decades,' said a spokesman. 

Startling changes revealed in mystery craters in northern Siberia


Solved? How scineitsts say mystery craters were formed in northern Siberia


Solved? How scineitsts say mystery craters were formed in northern Siberia


Exclusive new pictures INSIDE mystery Siberian crater


Exclusive new pictures INSIDE mystery Siberian crater

Giant crater formed after pingo explosion near Bovanenkovo gas deposit in 2014. Pictures: Vasily bogoyavlensky, Yamal governor's press-service, Vladimir Pushkarev

'An abnormally warm summer in 2016 on the Yamal peninsula must have added to the process.'

Analysis last year of the Bely island underground gas pockets - or jelly-like bubbles -  showed multiple excesses of greenhouse gas content compared with average levels in the atmosphere.

Methane exceeded the norm 1,000 times, while carbon dioxide was 25 times above the norm. Initial measurements had suggest methane levels 200 times above usual levels. 

Some 15 examples of this swaying Siberian ground were revealed last July on Bely Island, a polar bear outpost some 750 km north of the Arctic Circle in the Kara Sea. One research team account at the scene said: 'As we took off a layer of grass and soil, a fountain of gas erupted.' 

Taimyr hole


Big hole on Taymyr near Nosok


Taimyr crater in Autumn 2014

Recently there were accounts of a 'big bang' triggering the formation of a crater on the Taimyr Peninsula. Pictures: Sergei Lapsui, Stanislav Yaptune, Vladimir Epifanov

The summer was abnormally hot for the Yamal peninsula, with the air temperature reaching 35C. 

This heat impacted on the depth of seasonal thawing which grew both deeper  spread wider than in the past, so causing the formation of new lakes and a noticeable change in the regional tundra landscape.

Scientists are simultaneously observing the sudden formation of the large craters, evidently caused by eruptions or explosions of methane gas which has melted below the surface. 

Most experts now believe they were created by explosions of methane gas unlocked by warming temperatures in the far north of Russia. 

Small gas bubbles


Now the proof: permafrost 'bubbles' are leaking methane 200 times above the norm


Now the proof: permafrost 'bubbles' are leaking methane 200 times above the norm

'An early of gas bubbles was discovered during a summer 2016 expedition to Bely island,' said a spokesman. Pictures: Alexander Sokolov

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' triggering the formation of a crater on the Taimyr Peninsula. However, there was no pingo on this spot before the eruption in 2013. The noise could be heard up to 100 km away and one resident saw a 'glow in the sky' after the explosion, it was revealed.

Bulging bumps in the Yamal and Gydan peninsulas believed to be caused by thawing permafrost releasing methane.

Comments (24)

I agree---runaway climate change has begun and unless we, as a species, are willing to make some sacrifices in our lifestyles and expectations, we are in trouble. Soon. The oceans act as CO2 sinks, but as they warm, they are releasing more CO2 as well---much like a warm can of soda. More CO2 from the permafrost and oceans......more warming.....more CO2......more warming. I really hope I am missing something....
Cindy, New Mexico, USA
01/08/2017 09:57
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0
Can the bubbles be tapped like we do at landfills and the methane burned or harvested as it escapes?
Mircea, Coldwater, Michigan
01/08/2017 01:53
0
1
I would like to go harvest the methane. Seems like it is just sticking its head up asking to be sucked into a tank and hauled off to the closest bar-b-que.
Robert E. Green, Macon, Georgia, USA
26/07/2017 08:36
0
1
For those who think that burning methane is a solution to methane release, I should remind you that a product of methane combustion is CO2. Methane combustion leads to more carbon dioxide in our atmosphere. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Methane#Combustion
Pavel, Canada
09/07/2017 09:15
3
1
@ Marieke: zou er dan niet ook een hoop co2 vrijkomen?
Willem de Zeeuw, Waalre
22/04/2017 18:17
1
0
Watch out...there's a "Gas Bubble" about...

Is that guy in the video with a gun short of a working brain?
Jaker, Dundalk
28/03/2017 10:20
1
4
I'm not sure if this article is intentionally written to sound alarming with no actual details on a "danger" level, or if it's a side effect.

For example: "Methane exceeded the norm 1,000 times, while carbon dioxide was 25 times above the norm. Initial measurements had suggest methane levels 200 times above usual levels."

This is meaningless without knowing the actual amount of gas contained in each of those pockets. I could have a gallon container with 1000 times the normal level of CH4 (normal level being around 0.18 parts per million), and still have only 0.18 gallons of methane. The article simply says there are 7000 such pockets, not how big each one is, or how much (either by volume or weight) gas is in each.
Richard Rahl, D'Hara
27/03/2017 02:47
5
7
Based on measurements of gases trapped in biogenic and abiogenic calcite, the release of methane (of ∼3–14% of total C stored) from permafrost and shelf sediment methane hydrate is deemed the ultimate source and cause for the dramatic life-changing global warming (GMAT > 34 °C) and oceanic negative-carbon isotope excursion observed at the end Permian. Global warming triggered by the massive release of carbon dioxide may be catastrophic, but the release of methane from hydrate may be apocalyptic. The end Permian holds an important lesson for humanity regarding the issue it faces today with greenhouse gas emissions, global warming, and climate change. Methane Hydrate: Killer cause of Earth's greatest mass extinction


http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1871174X16300488
drew hempel, U.S.
25/03/2017 11:17
9
0
This is beyond the beyond fantastic...!
Ted Davis, Thailand
24/03/2017 16:33
2
14
Back in the 1970's trillions of cubic feet of natural gas were being vented to atmosphere in the high arctic and burned, because the oil companies were only interested in recovering the oil. So no biggy. According to Dec.2016 issue of Scientific America, methane gas (natural gas) is 33x more potent as a greenhouse gas than CO2, so that means by burning natural gas it's greenhouse gas effect is being reduced by 97%. People should be getting a carbon credit for burning natural gas instead of being taxed ! If I lived in the high arctic I'd be welcoming global warming, so suck it up, people. You can't fight nature so just live with it and adapt. That's known as evolution.
Ron, Canada
24/03/2017 09:37
10
62
...it's fake news I tellyah!!
mangy sam, canada
24/03/2017 06:37
3
19
Venus Syndrome... our planet will be unlivable... Venus like atmosphere
Anthony, USA
24/03/2017 06:23
10
5
How much methane do these pockets contain? 7000 pockets with 1000x atmospheric concentrated methane could be devastating when you combine them all. And there is reasonable science that they thaw even more methane after they burst. And if we can see yearly changes like 16 to 7k (multiplier x437/yr) then we are totally screwed already. (OK we didn't know or study them properly earlier, so that 16 is not a good starting point.) For bursting freezing winter is key, because is freezes the top soil, but after methane builds up it has no other way than blow these huge craters. And you can add those arctic ocean methane plumes that are grown from very small to over 1km wide in same timeline. Yeap, we are screwed already and runaway climate change has most likely started.
Zatal, Finland
24/03/2017 04:58
11
4
how about blingos or bangos
scott, usa
23/03/2017 07:16
5
3
Siberia is only one part of Russia. There is another chunk of land that also has permafrost and that is Canada.

7,000 methane craters just in Siberia alone.

It is very possible that there are even more craters in Northern Canada,

But it doesn't have to be just on the land. Scientists have also discovered underwater craters in the Arctic Ocean.

The simple fact is that as far as climate action, it's too late.

All of this is unfolding now and there is nothing you can do to stop it.

Add in that an El Nino, the third in 4 years, is about to happen this year driving temperatures even higher.

Whatever action you have dreamed up should have happened 20 years ago.

Hold onto your seats. The ride is about to get bumpy.
Kirk, Canada
23/03/2017 03:49
36
4
12

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