Group of scientists studying the Arctic Ocean says the discovery of very large deposits of methane gas — which surpasses the carbon on the greenhouse effect 20 times — at the bottom of the ocean.
According to experts, under the influence of rising water temperatures, these huge bubbles of methane will rise and emitted into the atmosphere, thus greatly exacerbate the greenhouse effect.
A group of Russian scientists conducting research at the bottom of the East Siberian Arctic Shelf is already about 20 years, said that recent studies indicate a very significant amounts of methane is released from the ocean floor.
Igor Semiletov, a scientist at the International Arctic Research Center at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, said that he led a joint Russian-American group, which studied the bottom of the East Siberian Sea and witnessed the phenomenal size and activity of the release of methane from the Arctic seabed.
"Earlier we found fakelopodobnye structure, but then they were only a few tens of meters in diameter. But now we have found a continuous stream of bubbles leaking from the bottom, the diameter of which can reach up to 1,000 meters. This is amazing, "- says seven years.
"Most of all I was surprised by a change of scale to the gas and the high density of bubbles", — he said. According to experts, now there were about a hundred of these giant bubbles, but with a more extensive studies of the number likely to increase.
Scientists estimate that the total under the ocean may be hidden hundreds of millions of tons of methane, which is constrained by a zone of permafrost. Similar deposits of methane may exist along the coast eastern Siberia. According to the researchers, one of the biggest concerns right now is that with the disappearance of Arctic sea ice in summer will display areas of permafrost, which releases into the atmosphere large reserves of methane.
According to a 2010 estimate, around the East Siberian shelf can be hidden around 8 million tonnes of methane. However, recent studies suggest that this figure is likely to be underestimated.
At the end of this year, the Russian research vessel Academician Lavrentiev with the participation of U.S. experts conducted studies 10,000 square miles off the coast of eastern Siberia network. Scientists deployed seismic and acoustic instruments to control methane "fountains". "In a very small area of about 10,000 square miles, we counted more than a hundred" fountains ", escaping through the water to the atmosphere," — says seven years.
According to geologists, the total amount of methane stored beneath the Arctic, may exceed the amount of carbon dioxide in the planet's interior, so the scientists say that in terms of global warming to the Arctic region should take the highest priority.
Experts say that is the most dangerous thing is that no one knows exactly how much methane is stored under the bottom, and as soon as he starts to escape into the atmosphere at a scale that will affect global warming.
Back in 2009, a joint Norwegian-British group of oceanographers has established the fact of methane emissions off Svalbard. Studies were conducted at depths of 150 to 400 meters.
According to oceanographers, mostly methane occurs in the bottom of the oceans in the hydrated form. "Methane hydrate — is similar to ice a substance composed of water and methane which is stable only in cold water and high pressure. Since the temperature increases, the hydrate breaks down, so we have yet another confirmation of the temperature rise in the ocean under the influence of a changing climate, "- said the researchers.
Norwegian experts say they have in the past found methane emissions, but so far it's been in the regions deeper than 360 meters, now warming influences the deeper-water areas. "We have long anticipated that methane stored in sediments, sooner or later, in a period of global warming will begin to rise up, it will say about the warming of the oceans. However, we did not think that it will begin so soon, and the first will see it on yourself northern regions ", — says Tim Minshall, a specialist British National Oceanography Centre in Southampton.
According to him, the last time when methane was raised in large quantities on the surface of the planet, Earth was just coming out of the last ice age about 15,000 years ago.