Earth on Fire: The Overheating Planet

Earth on Fire: The Overheating Planet

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Saturday, 6 March 2010

HUGE METHANE LEAK IN ARCTIC

A section of the Arctic Ocean seafloor that holds vast stores of frozen methane is showing signs of instability and widespread venting of the powerful greenhouse gas, according to the findings of an international research team led by University of Alaska Fairbanks scientists Natalia Shakhova and Igor Semiletov.

The research results, published in Science on March 5th, show that the permafrost under the East Siberian Arctic Shelf, which has long been considered an impermeable barrier that seals in methane, is perforated, and is leaking large amounts of methane into the atmosphere. Release of even a fraction of the methane stored in the shelf could trigger abrupt climatic warming.

'The amount of methane currently coming out of the East Siberian Arctic Shelf is comparable to the amount coming out of the entire world's oceans,' said Shakhova, a researcher at UAF's International Arctic Research Center. 'Subsea permafrost is losing its ability to be an impermeable cap.'

Methane is a greenhouse gas more than 30 times more potent than carbon dioxide.

The full report is on ScienceDaily