Arctic methane deposits starting to release: Scientists find

Frozen methane deposits, also known as the carbon cycle’s sleeping giants, are melting at an unprecedented rate. The release has begun in a large area, which will release hazardous elements into the seawater. As a result, the temperature of the artic has risen more than twice.

Hazardous amounts of greenhouse gases have been detected in the Laptev Sea near Russia. The dangerous limits go down to 3,500 meters depth. It might be new climate feedback, researchers think.

These contain frozen hydrates, which trap methane gas. When released in the air and inhaled by humans, it can cause catastrophic effects. The methane levels are currently four to eight times higher than normal.

“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,” said the Swedish scientist Örjan Gustafsson.

Shelf study expedition

The finding is a part of a multi-year International shelf study expedition. The scientists said that their findings were preliminary. The scientists yet do not confirm the released quantity of methane. However, the analysis of the data will go for peer-reviewing before publication.

But the discovery of potentially destabilized slope frozen methane raises concerns. An increase in the speed of global heating increases the tipping point. The artic is the ground zero of frozen methane deposits in the ocean.

The temperature rose more than twice. The pace was similar to the global average. Whether or not it will be released into the atmosphere has been a matter of considerable uncertainty.


The instability of warm Atlantic currents into the eastern Arctic has caused the artic to melt. Consequently, it has led to human-induced climate disruption, which causes Atlantification. There is a third source of methane emission from the region. The shelf of the Arctic releases the gas. The biggest shelf of any sea.

The Laptev Sea and East Siberian sea has crater-like pockmarks. The discharging bubble jets of methane. The sea surface at levels tens to hundreds of times higher than normal. Similar craters and sinkholes were reported from the inland Siberian tundra.

“The discovery of actively releasing shelf-slope hydrates is very important and unknown until now,” said Igor Semiletov, of the Russian Academy of Sciences.

In Siberia, temperatures were five-degree Celcius higher than average from January to June this year, an anomaly made at least 600 times more likely by human-caused emissions of carbon dioxide and methane.

Image courtesy of Flystock/Shutterstock

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