Mysterious craters blowing out of Russia could mean trouble for the whole planet
The frozen soil of the Russian province, known as permafrost degrades, caused major changes in the landscape and ecology of the region. This could even endanger lives.
“The last time we saw a permafrost melt was 130,000 years ago. It is a natural phenomenon due to changes in Earth’s orbit,” said Earth science professor at Oxford University, Dr. Gideon Henderson .
“But this is certainly unprecedented is the rate of warming.The warming that occurred there 130,000 years ago happened thousands of years ago … What we see happening now, warms up for decades or a century.”
Thus we see a much faster collapse of permafrost, Henderson said.
Global Warming – but Faster
It is clear that the melting of permafrost has a significant effect on the climate, Henderson said.
Under normal conditions, permafrost regulates the amount of carbon in the environment by absorbing and storing significant atoms that release the human from the combustion of fossil fuels.
In the case of Siberia, this equation is reversed.
“When [permafrost] releases carbon, it will accelerate the rate of warming in the future,” Henderson said. A self-reinforced feedback loop is created through which the heating releases more atoms, resulting in increased heating.
Methane is 86 times worse than carbon dioxide
Since 2014, several massive wells were discovered in the area. The first could have been measured more than 50 feet wide.
There are several hypotheses on how craters form, but none of them have been proven, said Dr. Vladimir Romanovsky, professor of geophysics at the University of Alaska Fairbanks.
“All these assumptions, however, use the fact that the temperature in the region increases,” Romanovsky said.
The formation of these crater-like holes could have important implications for the community of Siberia and the environment in general.
One theory suggests that holes are created when the trapped gas explodes. Carbon dioxide and methane, both greenhouse gases are released in the process.
According to conventional estimates, methane warms the planet 34 times larger than carbon dioxide over 100 years.
However, these estimates ignore the fact that methane in the atmosphere decomposes into carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas less potent after 10 to 20 years.
Over a 20-year period, methane from the warming potential is 86 times greater than that of carbon dioxide, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
It is still whether the formation of these craters contributes to significant amounts of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, according to the researchers.
“There is no estimate of the amount of methane released into the atmosphere, since we do not know how” these craters form, “Romanovsky said.
According to Henderson, scientists are not sure of the rate and types of gases ejected – especially methane is broken down into carbon dioxide before or after its release.