Methane deposits in the Arctic ocean are releasing greenhouse gases

Researchers have found evidence that large amounts of greenhouse gases are being released from frozen methane deposits in the Arctic Ocean. The gases are being let into a slope of the East Siberian coast, according to a report from the Guardian.

The new findings have alarmed climate scientists, as the new depleting deposits could accelerate the timeline of global warming and climate change. The gases released from the deposits have been detected up to 350 meters below the Laptev Sea near Russia. The slopes off which the gases are being released off contain sediments with large amounts of frozen methane deposits.

Methane is one of the more dangerous greenhouse gases—making it one that climate scientists focus a lot of their time on. The United States Geological Survey has even listed the destabilization of methane from the Arctic Sea as one of the four most serious scenarios that could have an immediate effect on climate change. Methane is also known to have up to 80 times more of a warming effect compared to other greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide over a time period of 20 years.

An international research team on the ship R/V Akademik Keldysh said the methane levels above the surface of the ocean (above the deposits) were 4-8 times greater than normally expected levels—and these gases are being released into the atmosphere. The levels above the surface are this high even though the ocean is dissolving a lot of methane before they form bubbles and dissipate into the atmosphere.

“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,” Swedish scientist Örjan Gustafsson from Stockholm University said in a satellite call from the ship.

The team onboard the ship emphasizes that their findings are still preliminary and that there is more analysis required before a conclusion of the scale of methane release is announced. Before that happens, the team plans on analyzing the data and publishing their findings in a peer-reviewed journal.

This news comes just about a week before the United States is slated to withdraw from the Paris climate accord, an international climate crisis response collective. The accord comprises nearly 200 countries and was signed 5 years ago.

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