Results of the first scientific drilling permafrost in the Laptev Sea shelf suggest that submarine permafrost in the Arctic Ocean has already started to break down — it can lead to melting of the sharp rise in methane emissions, the greenhouse effect and possibly catastrophic climate change, said the chairman of the Far Eastern Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences Academician Valentin Sergienko on the Russian-German seminar on the evolution of the environment, which opened Friday in Novosibirsk.
The project on drilling in the Laptev Sea, involved six Russian and three foreign research centers. Drilling operations were conducted on board the research vessel "Academician Lavrentiev", the total cost of the project is 30 million rubles. While during the winter drilling in 2012, 300 kilometers off the coast of the Arctic for the first time technology was used electromagnetic sensing and use robots to study the behavior of methane bubbles in the water.
According Sergienko, researchers first discovered in the shallow East Siberian shelf kilometers-furrow. Perhaps, with the lower layer of podtaivanii scratched piled ice. Submersibles recorded emanating from these furrows flood of methane, and at depths up to 100 meters of the field found many kilometers of these "fountains", which poses a serious threat to the climate.
In Arctic permafrost in bound form contains a large amount of methane. In addition, significant reserves of natural gas are in the ocean in the form of gas hydrates. Global warming and the melting of permafrost will damage the methane, which is ten times more powerful a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide. In turn, the warming releasing new volumes of methane, and the process of climate change could become irreversible and uncontrollable, like a shot from a firearm — this states that the so-called "hypothesis metangidratnogo guns."
Sergienko said that scientists have conducted hundreds of thousands of measurements of fluxes of carbon dioxide and methane at different levels of the shelf — from the seabed to the surface. The findings showed that the concentration of these gases in the eastern Arctic seas are very heterogeneous.
Scientists have identified areas with high methane emissions. It serves as a powerful source of eastern shelf, which is subject to coastal erosion and the bottom (fracture). However, "Gazit" not all the bottom of the eastern shelf, but only in areas of high tectonic and seismic activity, said the academician.
The highest concentration of carbon dioxide — 500 millimoles per liter, according to Sergienko, was found on the island crumbling Maastaha. In freshwater rivers methane well oxidized and is no longer much of a threat environment — found that in the mouth of the Lena River has high concentrations of methane.
"The salt water of the ocean that amount of methane oxidized to several years, and in fresh water, this process takes only four days," — said the academician.
According to him, about 80% of underwater permafrost containing thousands of gigatons of methane hydrate is located on the eastern Siberian shelf. After contact with even 5% of these reserves of methane in the atmosphere is not excluded climatic catastrophe. In this part of the area belongs to the areas of high seismic activity, which increases the risk.
"In this case, the atmosphere reaches 40 gigatons of methane, that is eight times higher than it is today found in the atmosphere. Predict such a scenario, to find out when this might occur, without special studies is difficult," — said Sergienko.