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A study led by geologists from the University of Bonn found that the extreme 2020 heat wave in Siberia increased the methane gas emissions from limestones as permafrost continues to melt. They compared methane concentrations in the air of northern Siberia with geological maps and found a temperature anomaly of about 42.8 degrees Fahrenheit (6 degrees Celsius) from 1979 to 2000.

Daily Mail reported that geologists measured an increase in methane concentration in the Taymyr Fold Belt and the rim of the Siberian Platform. Experts said that the increase of methane concentrations from thawing permafrost could lead to Earth's atmosphere getting hit with a methane bomb.

They published the full findings of the study, titled "Methane release from carbonate rock formations in the Siberian permafrost area during and after the 2020 heat wave," in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

 Thawing Permafrost in Siberia Could Release
(Photo: Wikimedia Commons)
Ponds resulting from thawing permafrost in the Yamal Peninsula in northwest Siberia were captured by the Copernicus Sentinel-2 mission on 27 August 2018. In Earth’s cold regions, much of the sub-surface ground is frozen. Permafrost is frozen soil, rock, or sediment – sometimes hundreds of meters thick. When permafrost warms and thaws, it releases methane and carbon dioxide, adding these greenhouse gases to the atmosphere and making global warming even worse.

Methane Emissions from Thawing Permafrost in Siberia after 2020 Heatwave

The limestones in Siberia's two most affected permafrost regions were formed during the Paleozoic era way back 541 million years ago. Most previous studies only looked at methane emissions from dead plants and animals and did not consider limestones.

Study lead author Dr. Nikolaus Froitzhelm said that methane emissions are hazardous because they could accelerate global warming at a higher rate than carbon dioxide. The Environmental Defense Fund added that methane has 80 times the warming power than the 20 years carbon dioxide has on the atmosphere.

Science Daily reported that if permanently frozen permafrost soils that cover large swaths of land thaw due to global warming, they can pose new dangers because they release carbon dioxide and methane that amplify the greenhouse gas effect.

 The new study challenges previous projections that greenhouse gas from thawing permafrost only contributes 32.36 degrees Fahrenheit (0.2 degrees Celsius) to global warming. The study found that significantly elevated methane concentrations in the two areas in Siberia from limestone formations could dramatically impact the already warming planet. Some would even call it an imminent "methane bomb."

 They are now looking at measurements and models that could tell how much and how fast natural gas may be released to Earth's surface, given the huge amount of natural gas in North Siberia.

ALSO READ: Russia's Oil Spill Blamed on Melting Permafrost; Clean-up Could Take 10 Years


Thawing Permafrost in Siberia Affects All Humans

According to National Geographic, Siberian permafrost is thawing gradually, as scientists predicted. It is thawing almost overnight and releases masses of carbon that have been locked in the frozen dirt for thousands of years. It enters the atmosphere as methane and carbon dioxide that exacerbates global warming and accelerates climate change.

Aside from that, increased permafrost melt also results in to release of ancient microbes that could cause sickness to both animals and humans. It will also damage landscapes and roads as the water from thawing permafrost runs off the ground and deform it. But also, it could threaten the loss of natural history records.

Ultimately, melting permafrost affects the world, although not many would understand this threat.

 RELATED ARTICLE: Melting Permafrost Could Mean Return of Ancient Diseases

Check out more news and information on Climate Change in Science Times.