As Arctic sea ice melts, scientists discover large plumes of methane bubbling to surface

December 13, 2011

A team of Russian scientists studying  eastern Arctic sea ice has discovered large plumes of methane bubbling to the surface. It is estimated that hundreds of millions of tones of methane, a greenhouse gas 20 times more potent than carbon dioxide are locked in the Arctic permafrost. As climate change warms the planet these gases are being released at a rapid rate. The scale of the release of methane has shocked the scientists, 

“In a very small area, less than 10,000 square miles, we have counted more than 100 fountains, or torch-like structures, bubbling through the water column and injected directly into the atmosphere from the seabed,” Dr Semiletov said. “We carried out checks at about 115 stationary points and discovered methane fields of a fantastic scale – I think on a scale not seen before. Some plumes were a kilometre or more wide and the emissions went directly into the atmosphere – the concentration was a hundred times higher than normal.”

Read more in the Independent.