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Siberia's Massive Permafrost Craters May Be Result Accumulation of Methane Gas Due to Climate Change

A member of an expedition group is seen on the edge of a newly formed crater on the Yamal Peninsula, northern Siberia November 8, 2014. Credits: Reuters,

A member of an expedition group is seen on the edge of a newly formed crater on the Yamal Peninsula, northern Siberia November 8, 2014. Credits: Reuters,

The team of scientists studied the 17th crater that formed in the remote Yamal and Gyda peninsulas of the Russian Arctic since the first was spotted in 2013

Scientists may have found the reason why massive craters are being formed in the Siberian Tundra.

In recent research published in Geosciences Journal last week, scientists have observed that large accumulation of methane gas due to climate change in the permafrost may have led to the explosions in the Russian region that has led to the blowouts leaving massive craters.

The team of scientists studied the 17th crater that formed in the remote Yamal and Gyda peninsulas of the Russian Arctic since the first was spotted in 2013. The research team consisted of seven scientists: Evgeny Chuvilin, a lead research scientist at the Skolkovo Institute of Science and Technology's Center for Hydrocarbon Recovery in Moscow, Igor Bogoyavlensky from the Oil and Gas Research Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences (OGRI RAS), Vasily Bogoyavlensky (OGRI RAS), Roman Nikonov, Tatiana Kargina, Boris Bukhanov, and Andrey Umnikov.

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With the help of drone photography, artificial intelligence, and 3D Modelling, the team found that the massive blowout was preceded by long-term growth of the perennial heaving mound (PHM) on the surface of the third marine terrace. Based on the interpretation of satellite images, it was inferred that the crater C17 was most likely formed between May 15, 2020, to June 9, 2020.

The study also mentions that for the first time, as a result of aerial photography from inside the crater with a drone, a 3D model was built that showed the crater and a giant cavity underneath formed during its thawing from below. With the help of these tools, scientists found that methane gas builds in a cavity in the ice that causes a mound to appear at ground level. As the accumulation of the greenhouse gas increases the mound grows in size until it blows out ice and other debris in an explosion leaving behind the massive crater.

Scientists have observed that warming in the Arctic region is causing the degradation of permafrost. A permafrost is nature’s way of containing the excess greenhouse gases under the surface of the earth. However, as temperatures rise permafrost is also melting which intensifies gas emissions into the atmosphere facilitating the process of climate change.

The study has observed intensive gas emissions from permafrost in the Russian Arctic in the north of Western Siberia especially on the Yamal and Gydan Peninsulas, in the north of the Krasnoyarsk region, in the Yakutia and the Chukotka Peninsula where the recent crater was found.