23 Sep 2008:
Numerous Methane `Chimneys’
Discovered by Vessel in Russian Arctic
Scientists surveying the Arctic Ocean above Russia have discovered extensive areas where large quantities of methane
, long trapped in sub-sea permafrost, are being released, raising concerns that the rapidly warming Arctic is starting to churn out this potent greenhouse gas. In recent weeks, an international team of researchers aboard a Russian vessel has traveled along much of Russia’s northern coast, discovering significant releases of methane across thousands of square miles. The methane concentrations have sometimes been 100 times greater than background levels. So much methane has been rising from the sea floor in certain spots that it has caused the sea to foam above so-called methane chimneys, according to Orjan Gustafson of Stockholm University. Several recent studies have detected high concentrations of methane above the Arctic Ocean, leading scientists to hypothesize that melting permafrost on the sea floor is allowing stores of methane — locked up since before the last ice age — to bubble into the atmosphere. Methane has 20 times the heat-trapping capacity of carbon dioxide.
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, winner of the Yale Environment 360 Video Contest, documents the work of African researchers monitoring wildlife in Uganda's remote Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. Watch the video.