Concerns related to the acceleration of global warming are not new, as well as the dedication to the development of solutions that reverse it, but the scenario may be about to gain a protagonist difficult to face. An international team of scientists has found evidence that methane deposits located in the Arctic Ocean, known as “sleeping giants of the carbon cycle”, have begun to be released over a large area of the east coast of Siberia – and everything indicates that the world will soon will suffer the consequences of the phenomenon.
According to researchers on the R / V ship Akademik Mstislav Keldysh, high levels of the gas, whose heating effect is 80 times more potent than that of carbon dioxide, were detected at a depth of up to 350 meters from the Laptev Sea, near the Russia. The team also claims that many of the substance’s bubbles are dissolving in the water, but that, on the surface, the concentration is already four to eight times stronger than would be considered normal. All of this, of course, is heading towards the Earth’s atmosphere.
“For the time being, there is unlikely to be any significant impact on global warming, but the problem is that the [substantial release] process has been activated,” warns Örjan Gustafsson, a scientist at Stockholm University, suggesting that things will not stop at the stage where they are.
A path of no return?
The warning is nothing more than a preliminary finding, and no data will be confirmed until the team returns from its expedition, which will make it possible to analyze the information and later publish the results in a scientific journal. Still, due to the amount of methane it stores and its temperature rise twice as fast as the global average, the Arctic is considered the ground zero in debates and responsible for a great deal of uncertainty when it comes to projections for the future of the climate on Earth.
Composed of 60 scientists, the team believes to be the first to prove that the events in question are already taking place. In 6 months of observation, it found methane concentrations of up to 1,600 nanomols per liter, which is 400 times higher than would be expected if the sea and atmosphere were in balance. “The discovery is very important and unknown so far,” says Igor Semiletov, of the Russian Academy of Sciences.
Temperatures in Siberia were 5 ° C higher than the average from January to June this year. The freezing that normally occurs in winter has not yet started – a far greater delay than surveys carried out by humanity indicate.