The heatwave Siberia experienced in 2020 during the summer caused an exponential increase in methane gas emissions from limestones and this could result in Earth getting bombarded with a methane bomb, increasing the already rising global temperatures.
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This is according to a new study (published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences) conducted by University of Bonn researchers who found that extreme heatwaves in Siberia caused a massive temperature anomaly of 6 degrees celsius over the previous baseline period from 1970 to 2000.
Researchers have been observing an increase in methane concentration since June 2020 in two regions — the Taymyr Fold Belt and the rim of the Siberian Platform. In 2021 this methane concentration spread all over the region.
What is important to note here is that these two areas are formed over limestone formations from the Paleozoic era that can be dated back as far as 541 million years ago.
Researchers compared the spatial and temporal distribution of methane concentrations in the air (over northern Siberia) with geological maps and found that around 15 percent of the Northern Hemisphere — which is roughly 11 percent of the entire globe — is covered by permafrost, as per an April 2021 study.
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If this portion of the ground ever melted due to climate change, it would create a far larger impact than the 0.2-degree celsius increase in temperature as previously believed. The limestones in the cave systems in the aforementioned regions would get porous with higher temperatures.
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University of Bonn professor Dr Nikolaus Froitzheim explained, “As a result, natural gas being mainly methane from reservoirs within and below the permafrost can reach the Earth’s surface. The estimated amounts of natural gas in the subsurface of North Siberia are huge. When parts of this will be added to the atmosphere upon thawing of the permafrost, this could have dramatic impacts on the already overheated global climate.”
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