How Siberia’s methane craters affect the whole planet

Siberian crater, Yamal Peninsula, methane bomb, gurgling methane, methane craters, global warming, melting landmass, Arctic, melting permafrostIn 2011, scientists warned that giant plumes of methane gas could fast-track planetary warming. And now – a version of this prediction has come to pass in Siberia. Despite being at the “ends of the Earth,” Yamal Peninsula’s three methane craters contain a cautionary tale for us all.

While more research needs to be done before we can jump to hasty conclusions, the details surrounding the craters that suddenly emerged in Siberia point to a climatic disaster of epic proportions, the kind Bill McKibben from has been warning us about for decades.

Three craters have appeared in the Arctic environment, where temperatures have risen on average 5 degrees Celsius in the last couple of years, according to the Washington Post. One is nearly 100 feet in diameter and contains extraordinarily high levels of methane.

“Gas pressure increased until it was high enough to push away the overlaying layers in a powerful injection, forming the crater,” “href=””>explained geochemist Hans-Wolfgang Hubberten of Germany’s Alfred Wegener Institute.

The other two craters have diameters of 45 feet and 13 feet. And while the pockmarked peninsula poses a particular risk to local people, especially considering that industrial plants have been erected on the frozen land that is now melting away, the global community will be affected as well.

Despite the danger of investigating this “spooky” unstable landmass, archaeologist Andrei Plekhanov from the Scientific Center of Arctic Studies in Salekhard, Russia reported in a recent Nature article that the air at the bottom of the crater consists of up to 9.6 percent methane – compared to the standard 0.000179 percent.

Related: Giant plumes of gurgling methane could fast-track planetary warming

This is worrisome because methane is far more potent than carbon dioxide when it comes to trapping greenhouse gases in our atmosphere – the one atmosphere that everyone on planet Earth shares.

“Pound for pound, the comparative impact of [methane gas] on climate change is over 20 times greater than [carbon dioxide] over a 100-year period,” the Environmental Protection Agency reported.

NIMBYism refers to the idea that as long as something bad (pollution, mining, social injustice) is taking place anywhere other than my back yard, it’s not my problem. But the thawing permafrost and subsequent release of methane bombs is everyone’s problem.

:: Washington Post

Image of the Siberian crater via AFP/Getty Images

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4 thoughts on “How Siberia’s methane craters affect the whole planet”

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  3. Elle says:

    Yes, some of us knew that a tipping point was near. Scientists, world-wide, have stated the result of global warming would be exactly this–permafrost melt releasing poison into the Earth’s atmosphere. Damn the “who is creating it” obstructive arguments by finger-pointing profiteers around the globe. While governments and corporations continue their decades long worthless debate over the efficacy of the experts’ statements and persist in obstructing the truth with statements like, “scientists don’t AGREE”, (when true scientists do agree, not the hired lobbyists lying to protect corporations) the world has been edging toward disaster, yearly. Those of us who have been awake to the permafrost melt potential are well aware the evidence presented in these craters is dire.

    The manner by which the truth would become too obvious to be ignored was, of course, the X factor. Given carbon ppm counts and, barring immediate and decisive action on humanity’s part, we were told that Earth would not be breathing much longer. Such primary evidence as the craters may awaken the public because it will not be ignored nor can it be covered-up. Climate scientists have been very clear on the subject–once the ppm tipping point is reached we face a planetary death. Of course, no one knew exactly how these gases would manifest and be released into the atmosphere or where it would begin. Now we do–huge craters boiling up from the earth emitting methane gas, among other gases.

    The Internet is rift with precise scientific information from extremely credible scientists on this subject. If you want to know what the carbon ppm number is, LOOK IT UP. There is no going back, people. It has been made clear to everyone that poison gases will spread around the globe and guess what? TIME’S UP.

    AND, It’s not Siberia’s craters. It’s humanity’s shame arising from Siberia.

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