This chapter of the Fever Rising series takes a look at the East Siberian Arctic Shelf where there are many plumes of methane gas releasing. To look
back at the first 28 chapters, check the last thread and there are links back to all the previous chapters.
The Phenomenon of Eagle Alaska
Chapter 29: A Closer Look at the Russian Arctic Vent
One of the most disturbing trends cropping up in the world today is the massive release of methane gas in the East Siberian Arctic Shelf. A research
team, led by Igor Semiletov of the Russian Academy of Sciences, has been studying the Arctic shelf off the coast of Siberia for decades. In the past
he stated that they had found methane bubbles off the seabed that were in the tens of diameters, but in 2010, they had discovered massive bubbles a
kilometer in size. He found hundreds of them over a 10,000 square kilometer area, but estimated that there were more likely hundreds of thousands of
them stretching across the East Siberian Arctic coast, which is more than 2 million square miles.
"Earlier we found torch-like structures like this but they were only tens of metres in diameter. This is the first time that we've found continuous,
powerful and impressive seeping structures more than 1,000 metres in diameter. It's amazing," Dr Semiletov said. The doctor went on to say that he
was impressed with the sheer size and high density of the plumes.
These ‘torch-like structures’ are massive continuous seeps of methane gas from frozen clathrates under the sea floor of the Arctic Ocean. As the
waters warm, the frozen methane deposits melt, thus, releasing from their ancient resting places where they have been stored for thousands of years.
These plumes go directly into the atmosphere where they affect climate change at a rate 20 times that of carbon dioxide. Methane molecules are 70
times more effective at trapping the sun’s heat than a CO2 molecule, but luckily, methane molecules break down in the atmosphere at a much faster
rate, so scientists estimate that it’s actually 20 times more potent.
The Arctic region is already one of the fastest warming places on earth. As I’ve shown several times in this book, the jet stream is carrying warm
ocean air considerably north over Arctic regions, which include the East Siberian shelf and Alaska over the North Pacific, and Greenland over the
North Atlantic. Both regions are suffering from an alarming rate of permafrost melt. If the pattern continues, what we should fear the most can
ultimately happen, the trapped frozen methane could suddenly melt and release, causing disastrous climate change.
If this were too happen, the damage would be irreversible and life on this planet as we know it would cease to exist. We would cross a tipping point
that would lead to an explosive world around us with fireballs of toxic gas erupting unpredictably, seismic and volcanic activity surging and human
and animal die-offs on a scale beyond comprehension. The world beneath our feet would literally become unstable with earth crustal movement in the
form of massive sinkholes, landslides and cracks. The soaring heat and atmospheric moisture would create a world where bacteria would thrive, causing
known diseases to flourish and new life-threatening ones to emerge.
Most of the information for this chapter came from a 2011 article in the Independent. Here is a small part of the article with some additional
Vast methane 'plumes' seen in Arctic ocean as sea ice retreats
From www.independent.co.uk, Dec. 13, 2011
By Steve Connor
Natalia Shakhova, a colleague at the International Arctic Research Centre at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, said that the Arctic is becoming a
major source of atmospheric methane and the concentrations of the powerful greenhouse gas have risen dramatically since pre-industrial times, largely
due to agriculture.
However, with the melting of Arctic sea ice and permafrost, the huge stores of methane that have been locked away underground for many thousands of
years might be released over a relatively short period of time, Dr Shakhova said.
"I am concerned about this process, I am really concerned. But no-one can tell the timescale of catastrophic releases. There is a probability of
future massive releases might occur within the decadal scale, but to be more accurate about how high that probability is, we just don't know," Dr
"Methane released from the Arctic shelf deposits contributes to global increase and the best evidence for that is the higher concentration of
atmospheric methane above the Arctic Ocean," she said.
"The concentration of atmospheric methane increased unto three times in the past two centuries from 0.7 parts per million to 1.7ppm, and in the
Arctic to 1.9ppm. That's a huge increase, between two and three times, and this has never happened in the history of the planet," she added.
The Siberian Arctic vents may be releasing 17 million tons of methane gas into the atmosphere each year. Previously, it was commonly held that the
nearby Siberian wetlands were the primary source of methane release in the Northern Hemisphere, but now the Arctic vents may be. Put them together and
it is no wonder that the Arctic region has the fastest warming temperatures on the planet. The warmer air temperatures are now contributing to rapidly
warming temperatures of the deep sea water. This is like having your finger on the trigger and squeezing just enough to add some tension on the firing
pin. If we squeeze much harder, we could fire the Clathrate Gun. We’re playing Russian roulette with climate change and the climate change deniers
won’t understand that until the gun goes off.
It isn’t just the sea floor hydrates that should concern us. The Siberian permafrost is also melting at unprecedented levels. A study was performed
from 2003 through 2007 and researchers discovered that methane escaping from under the permafrost increased 31% over the five years of the study.
According to a 2010 article in the Guardian, “The discovery follows a string of reports from the region in recent years that previously frozen boggy
soils are melting and releasing methane in greater quantities. Such Arctic soils currently lock away billions of tons of methane leading some
scientists to describe melting permafrost as a ticking time bomb that could overwhelm efforts to tackle climate change.”
According to the study, scientists believe that it only takes a small increase in temperature to cause a large release of methane gas. The Siberian
wetlands were only a small part of the global methane emissions, until recently.
I will conclude this chapter with some eye-opening information from the Guardian article.