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‘This is truly terrifying’: Scientists discover ocean waters ‘boiling with methane’ in Arctic

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Scientists studying the consequences of methane emissions from underwater permafrost in the Arctic Ocean announced this week that they found a 50-square-foot area of the East Siberian Sea “boiling with methane bubbles.”

“This is the most powerful seep I have ever been able to observe,” lead scientist Igor Semiletov said Monday, using a term for methane gas bubbling up from the seafloor to the surface. “No one has ever recorded anything similar.”

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Semiletov, a Russian researcher who has participated in 45 Arctic expeditions, set out on the Academic Mstislav Keldysh last month, accompanied by scientists from the United Kingdom, the United States, Italy, the Netherlands, and Sweden.

Their discovery was announced in a statement from Russia’s Tomsk Polytechnic University, where Semiletov is a professor. The researchers’ findings from the expedition and Semiletov’s remarks were translated and reported on Tuesday by The Telegraph.

Permafrost is a mix of soil, rocks, and sand bound together by ice that stays frozen for two or more years straight. As human activity causes global temperatures to rise, the world’s permafrost is thawing—releasing ancient bacteria and viruses as well as greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide and methane that further heat the planet.

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Compared with carbon dioxide, methane has a shorter lifetime in the atmosphere but is better at trapping radiation, so methane’s impact is more than 25 times greater than that of carbon dioxide over a 100-year period, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Experts are increasingly concerned about the consequences of thawing permafrost that is located both beneath land and water in the planet’s coldest regions. Last week, the Washington Post reported on “stunning and dramatic” scenes from a region of Eastern Siberia where “sections of many older, wooden buildings already sag toward the ground—rendered uninhabitable by the unevenly thawing earth,” and “rivers are rising and running faster,” sweeping away entire neighborhoods.

The Academic Mstislav Keldysh expedition’s research team, led by Semiletov, traveled to an area of the Arctic Ocean known for methane “fountains” to study the effects of permafrost thawing. Around the “powerful” fountain they found east of Bennett Island, the concentration of methane in the atmosphere was more than nine times higher than the global average.

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Describing the researchers’ discovery of the fountain based on the university’s statement, The Telegraph reported:

When researchers drew near to the “emerald-colored” water of the methane fountain, they “could see how gas was rising to the surface from the black depths of the sea in thousands of bubbly strands,” according to expedition member Sergei Nikiforov.

They took samples of bottom sediments, water, and gas, scooping up the extraordinarily large methane bubbles in buckets rather than small plastic capsules and filling several pressurized canisters.

The next day, the expedition stumbled upon another giant seep of roughly the same size, even though discovering seeps among rough ocean waves is usually “harder than finding a needle in a haystack,” Mr. Nikiforov said.

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The expedition’s findings, also reported on Tuesday by Newsweek, elicited alarmed reactions from readers and climate activists the world over:

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A New Zealand chapter of the Extinction Rebellion movement—which launched a fresh wave of peaceful acts of civil disobedience around the world on Monday to demand bolder climate policies—tweeted in response to the expedition’s discovery, “This is why the disruption we caused is very minor in comparison to what’s coming.”

https://twitter.com/ExtinctionNZ/status/1181691508988108800

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“This is truly terrifying,” tweeted Jim Walsh, an energy policy analyst at the U.S.-based group Food & Water Watch, linking to Newsweek’s report. Noting scientists’ concerns about permafrost thaw reaching a tipping point, he added that “we can’t get off fossil fuels fast enough.”

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‘Wow’: CNN’s Jake Tapper stunned by Sen. Rick Scott’s factually-impaired attack on Joe Biden

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Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL) has launched a new ad attacking 2020 presidential candidate Joe Biden just ahead of the caucuses this coming Monday, declaring that despite the Democrats' ongoing impeachment effort against President Trump, the "real story here is the corruption Joe Biden got away with." According to the Wall Street Journal, the ad buy was worth $19,000 and will appear on local cable TV in Des Moines, Iowa.

On CNN this Wednesday, Jake Tapper was taken aback by the ad's message, saying, "Wow!" after airing a clip of the ad.

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‘Are you done?’ The View audience goes wild as Whoopi Goldberg cuts off Alan Dershowitz during combative interview

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"The View" host Whoopi Goldberg clashed with Alan Dershowitz after he refused to move on from an argument and let the other co-hosts ask questions.

The Harvard Law professor emeritus appeared Wednesday on the daily talk show after defending President Donald Trump from his impeachment trial, where he argued that Democrats had not proven he broke any laws -- which he defined was the standard for conviction by the Senate.

"I'm not arguing about witnesses," Dershowitz said. "What I'm saying is, the charge of obstruction of Congress and abuse of power are not within the constitutional terms high crimes and misdemeanors. The framers rejected terms just like that. They rejected maladministration as a potential term and maladministration is virtually the same as abuse of power."

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‘It’s pretty much over’: Ex-RNC chief Michael Steele says ruse to call witnesses is ‘head fake’ by McConnell

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Former Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele on Wednesday said that the Senate trial of President Donald Trump is "over" for all practical purposes.

Steele shot down reporting that House Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) does not have the votes to prevent witnesses from being called in the impeachment trial.

"At the end of the day, there will be no more witnesses added to this conversation," Steele told an MSNBC panel. "This is pretty much over. I mean, I think we just need to wrap our heads around that and think about the longer game to come."

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