Due to climate change, methane stored in the Arctic begins to come to the surface and its amount cannot be compared with the emissions that humanity produces.
The methane "time bomb", consisting of ancient deposits of greenhouse gases that were trapped in the ice, has already been activated and very little is left before the global release of methane - the timer of this bomb has already started.
Satellite images of northern Siberia show vast stretches of limestone that were previously trapped under permafrost are surfaced and thawed, according to a study published Monday in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. When the limestone warmed up during the Siberian heatwave last year, it began to crack and gas burst out of it, releasing huge amounts of methane, which has so far been reliably isolated from the atmosphere.
"It's scary," says Robert Max Holmes, senior fellow at the Woodwell Climate Research Center. "This is not good news."
Scientists from various European and Russian research institutes have discovered thawed limestone in a roundabout way. Thanks to mapping technology called PULSE, scientists first detected alarming methane emissions using satellite scans, Inverse reports, and then pieced together where they came from.
"We found that the two elongated areas of increased methane concentration on the PULSE map ideally coincide with the two bands where limestone formations occur in the bowels," said lead author of the study, University of Bonn geophysicist Nikolaus Freutzheim.
There is the potential for global, worldwide disasters if all the gas currently trapped in permafrost is released.
“What we do know with a great deal of certainty is how much carbon is trapped in permafrost. This is a large number, and as the Earth warms and the permafrost melts, this ancient organics becomes available to microbes for microbiological processes, resulting in the release of CO2 and methane".