High Concentrations of Methane Likely Released fromSiberian Crater

A large, new crater has  had the local Nenets people in northern Sibera buzzing –loud enough to get launched into global media.  Aliens!  Unknown forces!

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A mystery crater spotted in the frozen Yamal peninsula in Siberia earlier this month was probably caused by methane released as permafrost thawed, researchers in Russia say.

Air near the bottom of the crater contained unusually high concentrations of methane — up to 9.6%.  Air normally contains just 0.000179% methane.

And, if you’ve been paying any attention at all you’ll know that methane is a far more potent greenhouse gas than CO2 — by about 20 times.

The fear is that the malevolent feedback loop may be kicking into high gear.

Plekhanov and his team believe that the release is due to the abnormally hot Yamal summers of 2012 and 2013, which were warmer than usual by an average of about 5°C. As temperatures rose, the researchers suggest, permafrost thawed and collapsed, releasing methane that had been trapped in the icy ground.

Other researchers argue that long-term global warming might be to blame — and that a slow and steady thaw in the region could have been enough to free a burst of methane and create such a big crater.

And to make the bad even worse, several other holes, incipient craters, have appeared in the same area.

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