Frozen methane deposits have released from areas of the Arctic Ocean, causing concern among scientists about the speed of global warming.
Reports from The Guardian revealed how researchers detected methane and other greenhouse gasses at both surface-level and depths of 382 yards in the Laptev Sea, Russia, which may lead to a new climate feedback loop.
The continental slope sediments, located just off the East Siberian coast, contain large amounts of methane and other hydrates that are rising to the surface level of the ocean through bubbles.
Scientists working in the region are part of the research team on board the R/V Akademik Keldysh. They have been monitoring the amount of gas produced in the region and believe the level of methane now reaching the surface is four to eight times the usual amount.
The research team has been observing activity in the Laptev Sea at six different points within a 93-mile-long and a six-mile-wide area. The 60-member crew have recorded the presence of methane gas, which has released from the sediment. In one area, the concentration level of methane was believed to be 400 times stronger than usual.
Örjan Gustafsson, a Swedish scientist working as part of the team, explained the effects will not be immediately noticeable in relation to global warming.
“At this moment, there is unlikely to be any major impact on global warming, but the point is that this process has now been triggered. This East Siberian slope methane hydrate system has been perturbed and the process will be ongoing,” he said.
Methane and the hydrates found in the continental sediment are estimated to have a warming effect 80 times more powerful than carbon dioxide. The scientists’ findings, however, have not been fully analyzed and are still subject to peer review.
Chief scientist of the expedition, Igor Semiletov, said the discovery is the first of its kind, but the true impact of the released gasses won’t be known until more studies have been conducted.
“The discovery of actively releasing shelf-slope hydrates is very important and unknown until now. This is a new page. Potentially they can have serious climate consequences, but we need more study before we can confirm that,” Semiletov explained.
The presence of methane gas emitting from the Arctic has caused concern in recent years. As The Inquisitr previously reported, 7,000 mysterious underground bubbles emerged in Siberia and emitted the dangerous gas into the atmosphere due to high temperatures melting ice sheets and exposing the bulging molds of gas.