Published on Nov 29, 2013
Dr. Natalia Shakhova, International Arctic Research Center, explains the imminence and magnitude of the risk of catastrophic methane release from the East Siberian Arctic shelf.
"... if warming continues, the larger and maybe great and massive amount of methane could be released from this Arctic shelf. Of course there is a potential risk. And in terms of potential risk, I would say that this Siberian Arctic shelf has the most potential. Because, as we said, the carbon pool was huge and the wall of the shell is very shallow, and the warming occurs stronger than in different areas of the world's ocean. And of course it is a potential risk.
"So the methane in the atmosphere, the amount, the total amount of methane in the atmosphere, in the current atmosphere, is about five Gigatonnes.
The amount of carbon preserved in the form of methane in this East Siberian Arctic shelf, is approximately... from hundreds to thousands of Gigatonnes.
And of course it's only one percent of that amount is required to double the atmospheric burden of methane.
But to destabilize one percent of this carbon pool, I think it's not much effort needed, considering that, the state of permafrost and the amount of methane currently involved. Because what divides this methane from the atmosphere is a very shallow water column, and a weakening permafrost, which is losing its ability to seal, to serve as a seal.
And this is, I think it's a matter of, it's not a matter of thousands of years, it's a matter of decades. I think, maybe, at most, hundred years but I think, matter of decades.
"It might potentially happen because, I would list many factors that might, that are very convenient... convincing for us."
"Igor [Dr. Igor Semiletov, International Arctic Research Center] is very convinced person because he spend a lot of time over there.
And where the ice should be about two meters thick, it was 40 centimeters thick.
That means that the processes... all the processes that serves the stabilization of everything... of the sea, ice, of the water column, of the currents increasing.
The currents, I mean the movement of water beneath the sea ice increased.
So everything, everything looks anomalous. Even from our experience from this ten years, everything looks anomalous. And this is what makes him thinking that, making him think that the worst thing might happen.
Truly speaking, we do not like what we see there, absolutely Do. Not. Like."
Excerpts from "Arctic Death Spiral and the Methane Time Bomb" (starting at 54 : 30)
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