Tags: russian | craters | permafrost | melts

Russian Craters Form as Permafrost Melts, Spelling Trouble

Image: Russian Craters Form as Permafrost Melts, Spelling Trouble

A crater recently discovered in the Yamal Peninsula in Russia. (AP Photo/Associated Press Television)

By    |   Tuesday, 01 Aug 2017 07:38 AM

Russian craters are forming across Siberia as permafrost continues to melt and a University of Oxford professor said that could spell trouble across the globe.

Gideon Henderson told CNBC the melting is happening at a faster rate than ever and is causing major changes in the region's ecology.

"The last time we saw a permafrost melting was 130,000 years ago," Henderson said, per CNBC. "It's a natural phenomenon because of changes in the earth's orbit. But what is definitely unprecedented is the rate of warming. The warming that happened 130,000 years ago happened over thousands of years … What we see happening now is warming over decades or a century."

The Atlantic magazine reported in June that a number of huge craters appeared in Siberia in 2014 in areas rich in natural gas.

Satellite imagery showed mounds along with more craters.

The permafrost regulates the amount of carbon in the environment by taking up and storing significant portions of carbon that humans release from burning fossil fuel, CNBC said. That balance is being reversed in Siberia.

"When (permafrosts) release carbon, it will accelerate the rate of warming in the future," Henderson said, creating a loop where warming releases more carbon, which in turn produces greater warming, per CNBC.

Last year, Russian officials found themselves fighting an anthrax outbreak in a desolate portion of Siberia where scientists believe a heat wave thawed frozen soil and released the deadly infection, National Public Radio reported.

More than 2,000 reindeer were felled and some families living there had to be airlifted and hospitalized, NPR reported.

"Permafrost is a silent ticking time bomb," Robert Spencer, an environmental scientist at Florida State University, told Wired magazine in December, saying that melting ice could release bacteria, carbon, methane, and viruses that had been long trapped there.

Henderson said the melting permafrost will have another impact on residents living in Siberia.

"People in permafrost regions rely on frozen ground for their infrastructure," Henderson told CNBC. "As the ground melts, the railway collapses, the roads fall apart, the buildings sink into the ground … It's happening already."

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Russian craters are forming across Siberia as permafrost continues to melt and a University of Oxford professor said that could spell trouble across the globe.
russian, craters, permafrost, melts
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2017-38-01
Tuesday, 01 Aug 2017 07:38 AM
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