Russian researchers report unusually large Arctic methane release
© RIA Novosti. Pavel Lvov

Russian researchers report unusually large Arctic methane release

Researchers from Tomsk Polytechnic University (TPU) and their colleagues from several other Russian research centers and universities have reported record-breaking levels of methane emissions in the East Siberian Sea.

A research expedition was sent to the eastern Arctic to study the biogeochemical and environmental consequences of submarine permafrost thawing. In particular, they studied a part of the East Siberian Sea where gas seeps had been reported.

The researchers have not only recorded the seeps with special equipment but also saw a string of methane bubbles rising from the depths of the sea.

 "It was the largest seep I ever saw. We registered dissolved methane in a concentration of 16 parts per thousand (ppt), which is nine times more than the world's average. Nobody has ever reported this before," said expedition head Igor Semiletov, a TPU professor and non-voting member of the Russian Academy of Sciences.

The area of the gas fountain was estimated at 4 or 5 square meters. The researchers collected a sample without using any special equipment, because a simple bucket could be used to collect the water boiling with methane. Several drums of condensed gas have been taken ashore, TPU sources said. The next day a similar seep was reported in another part of the testing area, where the researchers conducted the required tests, including underwater filming.