Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Siberian Methane Blowholes

Vast expanses of permafrost in Siberia and Alaska has started to thaw for the first time since it formed 11,000 years ago. It is caused by the recent 3+°C rise in local temperature over the past 40 years - more than four times the long-term global average.

A global temperature rise of 1.5 °C (2.7 °F) above current levels would be enough to start the thawing of all permafrost in Siberia, according to one group of scientists.

Well-Preserved Mammoth Discovered in the Permafrost of Northern Siberia
It is one of the coldest parts of Siberia. The frozen landscape has trapped methane in the ice-packed earth. This soil has, in recent decades, begun to soften as the climate warms.
A view from the edge of a crater - about 100 feet across - that has opened in Siberian permafrost.
Siberia's blowholes are exploding in numbers: Up to 20 have now been located, raising new fears the warming permafrost is releasing its methane reserves. Expeditions to the bottom of several craters late last year appeared to support speculation that they may have been caused by pockets of defrosted methane gas erupting though the softening surface. Deep lakes of methane-infused “slurry” were found beneath.
The ripples caused by bubbling methane shows in this picture of a lake in Siberia.

Global distribution of methane averaged over 2011 by NASA/AIRS. Note the very high concentrations in the Arctic region.
Climate monitoring by the Hydrometeorological Centre of Russia indicates spring 2015 was the warmest in the 125-year history of regular meteorological observations.

As formerly frozen methane hydrate/clathrate deposits on sea and lake beds thaw, the methane migrates to the surface where it can be temporarily trapped.
It looked like a vision of hell, if hell was a golf course. Muddy bubbling water churning several feet in the air at a golf course June 15, 2015 in Lambton Shores, Ont., was clearly no regular water hazard.

The exploding pond at the Indian Hills Golf Course in Lambton Shores, Ontario, Canada is on Lake Huron and is only 25 miles from the US border in Michigan.