A team of 60 researchers on a Russian mission to the Arctic evidently confirmed huge swatches of methane deposits called “sleeping giants of the carbon cycle” have starting to ooze out of the frozen sea, posing a major theoretical threat to the global fight against climate change.
The scientists on the mission ship called R/V Akademik Keldysh traced high levels of potential methane 350 meters beneath the surface of the frozen Laptev covering large areas of the continental slope off the East Siberian coast, the Guardian reports.
The scientists found huge volumes of methane and other gases called hydrates trapped inside the Laptev sea, prompting concerns that new feedback of climate change could be triggered while the world is already battling the same.
Methane, unlike Carbon-di-Oxide, has a warming effect 80 times more than carbon dioxide over a course of 20-years. Methane gas is a major source of global warming.
Previous researchers have already found the effect of global warming in the Arctic aggravates manifolds than what it is in the other areas of the world.
As of now, the scientists confirm that most of the methane bubbles are dissolving in the water, but the level of the poisonous gas is already four-to-eight times than expected and that the gas was escaping into the environment.
“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,” Örjan Gustafsson, of Stockholm University, told the Guardian in a satellite call from the vessel.
They have also stressed that their findings are preliminary and the level of methane currently near the surface will not be confirmed unless the scientists return and their findings are peer-reviewed.
The chief scientist onboard the ship said the level of Methane discharges were “significantly larger” than anything seen before. The team claims to be the first to observationally claim the release of the gas.
“This is a new page. Potentially they can have serious climate consequences, but we need more study before we can confirm that,” Igor Semiletov, of the Russian Academy of Sciences, who is the chief scientist on board told the Guardian.