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.”
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.
Russian scientists find 'most powerful' ever methane seep in Arctic Ocean https://t.co/v6HrbjPlXv
— Telegraph World News (@TelegraphWorld) October 8, 2019
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.
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.
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.
The expedition’s findings, also reported on Tuesday by Newsweek, elicited alarmed reactions from readers and climate activists the world over:
— Callum Grieve (@callumgrieve) October 9, 2019
Oh, fuck. https://t.co/OnwCW2rL2c
— Ray Monk (@Raymodraco) October 8, 2019
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.”
“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.”
This is truly terrifying, and one of the worst case scenarios for a climate #tippingpoint.
— Jim Walsh (@jimrwalsh) October 9, 2019
‘Political blood in the water’: MSNBC’s Morning Joe mocks ‘desperate’ Trump for losing Kentucky and Louisiana
MSNBC's Joe Scarborough scorched President Donald Trump for squandering his political capital on vulnerable Republican candidates in two red-state losses.
The "Morning Joe" host questioned the president's decision to hold 11th-hour campaign rallies for Eddie Rispone in Louisiana and Gov. Matt Bevin in Kentucky -- both of whom lost their races.
"The president went all in," Scarborough said. "I want you to imagine a business owner whose daddy gave him $400 million, right? And then that business owner says, 'I'm going to start casinos in New Jersey,' right? Imagine that, and imagine a guy whose daddy gave him $400 million. We're just making this up right now, $400 million in today's dollars."
Trump is going through a mental health crisis that makes his judgment even more impulsive and ‘catastrophic’: psychologist
The first week of public impeachment hearings against Donald Trump in the House of Representatives has concluded. Despite the obsessive efforts of Trump’s Republican Party minions, his personal spokespeople and the right-wing disinformation media, the facts are clear: Multiple witnesses independently report that Donald Trump abused the power of the presidency for personal gain in an effort to bribe and extort the president of Ukraine into aiding his re-election campaign.
This article first appeared in Salon.As documented by Robert Mueller's report, the Ukraine scandal is part of a long pattern by Donald Trump and his supplicants to seek out foreign assistance to subvert American democracy, with the goal of first installing Trump in power and then keeping him there.
North Korea will not hold ‘useless’ summits with US: KCNA
Another summit between North Korea and the US would be "useless" unless Washington offers new concessions in their nuclear negotiations, Pyongyang said Monday, hours after Donald Trump hinted at the prospect.
"You should act quickly, get the deal done," Trump tweeted Sunday, referring to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. "See you soon!"
Kim and Trump have met three times since June last year, but talks have been gridlocked since their Hanoi summit in February broke up in disagreement over sanctions relief, while October's working-level talks rapidly broke down in Sweden.
Pyongyang has set Washington a deadline of the end of the year to come forward with a fresh offer, and foreign ministry advisor Kim Kye Gwan said the US was "buying time while acting as if it has achieved progress".