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Environment & Energy

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(59,545 posts)
Tue Jul 26, 2016, 08:37 AM Jul 2016

Methane, Carbon Boil Up Through Siberian "Bubble Soil"; On-Site #s 7750 ppm C, 375 ppm CH4 [View all]

Scientists say a 'fountain of gas' poured from jelly-like trembling earth in tundra on Belyy Island in northern Siberia. The swelling pockets in the permafrost - revealed this week by The Siberian Times - are leaking 'alarming' levels of ecologically dangerous gases, according to scientists who have observed this 'unique' phenomenon. Some 15 pockets have been found on the Arctic island, around one metre in diameter.


Measurements taken by researchers on expeditions to the island found that after removing grass and soil from the 'bubbling' ground, the carbon dioxide (CO2) concentration released was 20 times above the norm, while the methane(CH4) level was 200 times higher. One account said: 'As we took off a layer of grass and soil, a fountain of gas erupted.'

An early theory is that warm summer heat has melted the permafrost causing the release of long-frozen gases. Video images of the phenomenon show how the ground wobbled under the feet of scientists. Other descriptions say the tundra surface - in a permafrost zone some 765 kilometres north of the Arctic Circle - bubbled or trembled. 'It was like a jelly,' said one researcher, according to a broadcast by Vesti Yamal. 'We have not come across anything like this before.'


He explained: 'The day after seeing this bubble, we came across another one. As shown on our video, we punctured it and, let's say, 'air' starting coming out quickly.

'It had no smell - and there was no liquid (eruption). When we returned to our camp, we started discussing the phenomenon with colleagues and decided to find out what was the gas coming out of it. 'Our colleagues gave us a gas analyser worth 7 million roubles ($10,850). This device measures the concentration of the two greenhouse gas, carbon dioxide and methane. Gases are typically measured in parts per million or ppm. 'The gas analyser showed that one of these gases was dozens of times higher and another was hundreds of times higher than normal.' The peak CO2 measurement was 7750 ppm, the CH4 reading was 375 ppm.


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