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Huge pits forming in Arctic permafrost

Huge pits forming in Arctic permafrost

Unread postby Plantagenet » Tue 05 Aug 2014, 16:04:30

Siberian pits formed by methane release

Russian scientists studying one of the large pits that are forming in Arctic permafrost across northern Siberia suggest that the pit formed due to a huge release of methane.

The release of massive amounts of methane from Arctic permafrost is one of the predicted side effects of anthropogentic greenhouse warming. Methane is much more powerful greenhouse gas than CO2.

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Pit caused by Methane eruption
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Re: Huge pits forming in Arctic permafrost

Unread postby BobInget » Tue 05 Aug 2014, 17:05:45

(Mother Jones)

The Siberian Permafrost Just Sent Us a Warning Message

One of the scary aspects of climate change is the possibility of positive feedback loops. When Arctic ice melts, for example, it exposes seawater, which doesn't reflect as much sunlight as ice. So more sunlight is absorbed, which makes the planet even warmer, which melts more ice, rinse and repeat.

Of all of these feedback loops, the scariest might well be the melting of the Siberian permafrost. As the permafrost melts, it releases large amounts of methane, which is a very powerful greenhouse gas. That warms the planet, which speeds up the permafrost melt, which releases more methane, ad infinitum.

The good news about the permafrost is that it's probably not going to start seriously melting until the middle of the century or beyond. The bad news is that it might already be starting:

By now, you’ve heard of the crater on the Yamal Peninsula. It’s the one that suddenly appeared, yawning nearly 200 feet in diameter, and made several rounds in the global viral media machine....There’s now a substantiated theory about what created the crater. And the news isn’t so good.

It may be methane gas, released by the thawing of frozen ground. According to a recent Nature article, “air near the bottom of the crater contained unusually high concentrations of methane — up to 9.6% — in tests conducted at the site on 16 July, says Andrei Plekhanov, an archaeologist at the Scientific Centre of Arctic Studies in Salekhard, Russia. Plekhanov, who led an expedition to the crater, says that air normally contains just 0.000179% methane.”

This particular crater is apparently due to abnormally hot summers in 2012 and 2013, and one or two hot summers could happen regardless of changes in global temperatures. As usual, then, we can't say for sure that this is a direct result of climate change. But what we can say is that it's a canary in the coal mine. As the climate warms, we're going to see more and more craters like this. Individually, we'll never know if climate change is to blame. But collectively, there won't be much doubt. And if and when the permafrost goes into an irreversible meltdown, you might want to pack your bags and move to Tierra del Fuego.
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Re: Huge pits forming in Arctic permafrost

Unread postby dinopello » Tue 05 Aug 2014, 18:29:45

BobInget wrote: And if and when the permafrost goes into an irreversible meltdown, you might want to pack your bags and move to Tierra del Fuego.


Interesting choice of location - "Land of Fire"!

If the methane burps start happening at a rate fast enough to see them happening cause their happening in many places, all the time it's:

Game over, man!
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Re: Huge pits forming in Arctic permafrost

Unread postby Lore » Tue 05 Aug 2014, 18:42:07

BobInget wrote:
The good news about the permafrost is that it's probably not going to start seriously melting until the middle of the century or beyond. The bad news is that it might already be starting:



The bad news is that scientists didn't think the Arctic ice cap would melt as fast as it is.
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Re: Huge pits forming in Arctic permafrost

Unread postby Graeme » Tue 05 Aug 2014, 19:06:30

We started discussing these in the runaway thread. Rockdoc is trying to convince us that they are pingos (because their formation has nothing to do with global warming) but if you look at images of them from wiki, they don't look like pingos. These are steep-sided pits not mounds.

The best explanation so far comes from the Nature article I referred to in that thread.

But Plekhanov and his team believe that it is linked to the abnormally hot Yamal summers of 2012 and 2013, which were warmer than usual by an average of about 5°C. As temperatures rose, the researchers suggest, permafrost thawed and collapsed, releasing methane that had been trapped in the icy ground.

Other researchers argue that long-term global warming might be to blame — and that a slow and steady thaw in the region could have been enough to free a burst of methane and create such a big crater. Over the past 20 years, permafrost at a depth of 20 metres has warmed by about 2°C, driven by rising air temperatures1, notes Hans-Wolfgang Hubberten, a geochemist at the Alfred Wegener Institute in Potsdam, Germany.

Hubberten speculates that a thick layer of ice on top of the soil at the Yamal crater site trapped methane released by thawing permafrost. “Gas pressure increased until it was high enough to push away the overlying layers in a powerful injection, forming the crater,” he says. Hubberten says that he has never before seen a crater similar to the Yamal crater in the Arctic.

Larry Hinzman, a permafrost hydrologist at the University of Alaska in Fairbanks and director of the International Arctic Research Center, says that such craters could become more common in permafrost areas as the region heats up.
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Re: Huge pits forming in Arctic permafrost

Unread postby Plantagenet » Tue 05 Aug 2014, 19:31:46

Graeme wrote:We started discussing these in the runaway thread. Rockdoc is trying to convince us that they are pingos ... but if you look at images of them from wiki, they don't look like pingos.


You are right, Graeme and Rockdoc is wrong. They are not pingoes.

Pingoes take hundreds of years to form. These craters are forming in short-lived explosive events as methane eruptions are released from the permafrost. These huge methane releases are scary---there are thousands and thousands of miles of permafrost across northern Siberia and Alaska and Canada that is clearly becoming destabilized due to warming. Some of the permafrost contains methane hydrates----there are huge amounts of methane in the permafrost

Holy bejeesus this is scary.

Image
Methane is leaking up through lakes in permafrost and seeping up through permafrost Arctic continental shelves. Now these craters show it is starting to erupt from terrestrial permafrost. AAAAAAAAGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHH!!!!!! Not good! Not good! Not good!
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Re: Huge pits forming in Arctic permafrost

Unread postby dohboi » Tue 05 Aug 2014, 20:03:53

Good thread, free so far of WUWT ditto-heads.

The other round lakes in the region were mostly formed long ago, some during the "Holocene Optimum" when global temperatures were nearly as warm as they are now. I'm guessing we will see quite a few more of these in the coming weeks and years.
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Re: Huge pits forming in Arctic permafrost

Unread postby Plantagenet » Tue 05 Aug 2014, 20:06:40

dohboi wrote:Good thread, free so far of WUWT ditto-heads.

The other round lakes in the region were mostly formed long ago, some during the "Holocene Optimum" when global temperatures were nearly as warm as they are now. I'm guessing we will see quite a few more of these in the coming weeks and years.


Yup. Exactly right.

Typical "thaw lakes" are broad but shallow. When you core them, the sediments in them consist of debris eroded from the margins of the lake as it thawed away the permafrost around its margins.

These giant craters are something entirely new.
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Re: Huge pits forming in Arctic permafrost

Unread postby ChilPhil1986 » Tue 05 Aug 2014, 23:06:29

This actually is the topic matter that first got me searching the web in the avenues that would eventually led me to peak oil, so I felt like I should add to the thread.

http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=m6pFDu7lLV4

This link is the video that started it all for me. It was the methane that utterly convinced me that BAU was no longer sustainable. Later, peak oil taught me that nature would be crashing the party of modern first-world life soon enough.

They start discussing methane in depth around forty-five minutes, but the interview with Dr. Shakova around 53:00 is what spooked me. Mostly because SHE (and her colleague) was so spooked.

I get it, these guys obviously need to push for funding and so every research scientist out there is a pitch person of sorts. It just seems strange to me that they would all be pitching the same thing.
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Re: Huge pits forming in Arctic permafrost

Unread postby Cid_Yama » Wed 06 Aug 2014, 07:33:22

Confirmed: Siberian Crater Caused by Hydrate Blowout
By now, you’ve heard of the crater on the Yamal Peninsula. It’s the one that suddenly appeared, yawning nearly 60 metres in diameter.

There’s now a substantiated theory about what created the crater. And the news isn’t good.

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

According to a recent Nature article, “air near the bottom of the crater contained unusually high concentrations of methane - up to 9.6 per cent - in tests conducted at the site on 16 July, says Andrei Plekhanov, an archaeologist at the Scientific Centre of Arctic Studies in Salekhard, Russia. Plekhanov, who led an expedition to the crater, says that air normally contains just 0.000179 per cent methane.”

The scientist said the methane release may be related to Yamal’s unusually hot summers in 2012 and 2013, which were warmer by an average of 5 degrees Celsius.

Scientists contend the thawing of such terrain, rife with centuries of carbon, would release incredible amounts of methane gas and affect global temperatures.

link

A methane eruption is like blowing the cork on a champagne bottle, and does not involve explosions.

One litre of fully saturated methane clathrate solid contains about 120 grams of methane (or around 169 litres of methane gas at 0°C and 1 atm).


Therefore when it dissociates you have 169 times the volume gas under extreme pressure. And it literally blows it's cork.

The fact that residents reported one of the holes formed at the end of September last year, lends credence to it being a hydrate blowout. We have here physical evidence of methane hydrate dissociation due to climate change.

We'll be seeing more of these, no doubt, as temperatures continue to warm in the arctic.

*sounds of goal posts dragging*
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Re: Huge pits forming in Arctic permafrost

Unread postby Cid_Yama » Wed 06 Aug 2014, 07:40:32

I have to admit I never expected to see anything so dramatic as hydrate dissociation. There was already enough free methane gas, dissociated by geothermal flux, to do the job. But this really does look like hydrate dissociation.

The depth of the crater also appears to lend credence to it being due to hydrate dissociation.
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Re: Huge pits forming in Arctic permafrost

Unread postby GHung » Wed 06 Aug 2014, 08:53:29

Meanwhile:

On July 23, Ulf Hedman – who is aboard the Oden and who is Science Coordinator for the Swedish Polar Research Secretariat – gave a vivid description of the discovery in his blog:

We are ‘sniffing’ methane. We see the bubbles on video from the camera mounted on the CTD or the Multicorer. All analysis tells the signs. We are in a [methane] mega flare. We see it in the water column we read it above the surface an we follow it up high into the sky with radars and lasers. We see it mixed in the air and carried away with the winds. Methane in the air. Where does it come from? Is it from the old moors and mosses that used to be on dry land but now has sunken into the sea. Does it come from the deep interior of the Earth following structures in the bedrock up into the sand filled reservoirs collecting oil and gas then leaking out upwards, as bubbles through the sea bed into the water, into the mid-water sonar, the Niskin bottles the analysis and into our results?

Where does the methane come from? Is it organic or not? What’s the volume? How much is carried up into the air? Is there an effect on the climate? One mega flare does not tell the truth. It’s not evidence enough.

We carry on for the next station.


http://prn.fm/scientists-discover-vast- ... sea-floor/
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Re: Huge pits forming in Arctic permafrost

Unread postby vtsnowedin » Wed 06 Aug 2014, 08:57:16

I would look for evidence of a lighting strike igniting a methane seep coming from the pingo. The resulting torch could then quickly melt out the surrounding ice and pockets of concentrated gas would explode throwing out the observed ejecta.
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Re: Huge pits forming in Arctic permafrost

Unread postby Subjectivist » Wed 06 Aug 2014, 09:24:51

Cid_Yama wrote:I have to admit I never expected to see anything so dramatic as hydrate dissociation. There was already enough free methane gas, dissociated by geothermal flux, to do the job. But this really does look like hydrate dissociation.

The depth of the crater also appears to lend credence to it being due to hydrate dissociation.


Hey Cid, long time no see. It appears the same thing is happening on the submerged shelf so go ahead, say I Told You So.

I spent the last several years hoping you were wrong, but its looking more every day like you were right.
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Re: Huge pits forming in Arctic permafrost

Unread postby dohboi » Wed 06 Aug 2014, 10:38:20

Yes, good to see you back, cid. If you haven't yet, please note this story from the expedition that S&S and others are on, posted by Graeme on the other thread: http://www.natureworldnews.com/articles ... floors.htm
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Re: Huge pits forming in Arctic permafrost

Unread postby Graeme » Wed 06 Aug 2014, 18:53:27

Pity discussion is now split between this one and the other thread. Rockdoc was foolish in quoting the WUWT website because contributors to the site are well-known climate skeptics. He would have been better to quote ScientificAmerican who mention 2 scientists who believe that the craters are collapsed pingos but there isn't universal agreement. in the summary at the top of the article, SA state:

The holes are likely a type of sinkhole formed from melting permafrost or ice, which most likely erupted due to a collection of natural gas within the underground spaces


Further down in the article itself:

"My personal opinion is it's some type of sinkhole," said Vladimir Romanovsky, a geophysicist who studies permafrost at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. Sinkholes are pits in the ground formed when water fails to drain away.

The water likely came from melting permafrost or ice, said Romanovsky, who has spoken with the Russian scientists investigating the site. But whereas most sinkholes suck collapsed material inside, "this one actually erupted outside," he told Live Science. "It's not even in the [scientific] literature. It's pretty new what we're dealing with," he added.


But Romanovsky said the hole doesn't look like a typical collapsed pingo; such features usually form from larger mounds that slowly cave in over a period of decades, with all the material falling inside.

From the photo of the Yamal crater, "it's obvious that some material was ejected from the hole," Romanovsky said. His Russian colleagues who visited the site told him the dirt was piled more than 3 feet (1 m) high around the hole's edges.


And there's more recently published in Salon:

Temperatures across the Arctic are warming roughly twice as fast as the rest of the globe, largely due to the reduction in the amount of sunlight reflecting off of white, snow-covered ground. “At some point, we might get into a state of permafrost that is not comparable to what we know for 100 years or so, some new processes that never happened before,” says geologist Guido Grosse of the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research in Germany.

The mysterious craters in far northern Russia are just such an example. “There is nothing described in the scientific literature than can really, fully explain those craters,” says Grosse, who is headed to the Lena River Delta in Siberia this summer, which hosts a joint German-Russian research station. The most likely explanation for the newly discovered craters in Russia is an accumulation of methane over centuries or more that then burst out of the thawing ground sometime in the last few years. “High pressure built up and [the ground] literally popped open,” explains biogeochemist Kevin Schaefer of the U.S. National Snow and Ice Data Center. “If it is indeed caused by melting methane ice, we should expect to see more.”
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Re: Huge pits forming in Arctic permafrost

Unread postby Plantagenet » Wed 06 Aug 2014, 19:11:11

In the Siberian Times, Anna Kurchatova from the Sub-Arctic Scientific Research Centre explains how it works:

Global warming, causing an 'alarming' melt in the under soil ice, released gas causing an effect like the popping of a Champagne bottle cork.


Methane Gas seen rising through permafrost

The debris blasted out of the huge pits is the key to understanding them. Thawing pingos collapse down into the pit. These pits are ringed with debris thrown up and out from the pit.

The only way to to do that is to blast material out within a streaming gas phase, and methane is the mostly likely gas that could have done it.
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Re: Huge pits forming in Arctic permafrost

Unread postby Keith_McClary » Wed 06 Aug 2014, 21:35:12

In the 15 min. Marina Leibman interview
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E5fK3TT2GAQ
she says at 3:40 that the rim material was blown out and settled
and at 8:30 that it was not this year because there are fresh leaves growing from branches that are covered by the mud.
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Re: Huge pits forming in Arctic permafrost

Unread postby dissident » Wed 06 Aug 2014, 21:37:04

Seriously, isn't there a way to blame these features on Putin? They are obviously not a normal feature, so it must be yet another proof of Russian wrong doing.
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Re: Huge pits forming in Arctic permafrost

Unread postby Plantagenet » Thu 07 Aug 2014, 11:15:41

Putin certainly contributed to the Greenhouse Warming that caused the pits to form. But so did we all, to greater or lesser extents. :)
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