New Study: Ice Sheet Retreat Led to Rapid Methane Hydrate Release at End of Last Ice Age

Andreassen et al. found evidence of large craters embedded within methane-leaking subglacial sediments in the Barents Sea, Norway. They propose that the thinning of the ice sheet at the end of recent glacial cycles decreased the pressure on pockets of hydrates buried in the seafloor, resulting in explosive blow-outs. This created the giant craters and released large quantities of methane into the water above. — Science


At the end of the last ice age, a warming world released a portion of its carbon stores into the atmosphere. The result was, ultimately, an increase in atmospheric CO2 by around 100 parts per million and in increase in atmospheric methane by around 300 parts per billion.

This increase in greenhouse gasses was a direct response to the Earth warming by approximately 4 degrees Celsius over the course of about 10,000 years. Under a present human-forced warming that is currently 1.2 C above late 19th Century averages and that is predicted to reach between 3.3 and 7 C warming this Century if fossil fuel burning continues, it is important to consider what additional carbon forcing the Earth System will produce under such an extreme and short-term temperature departure.

A new study recently published in Science indicates that these massive craters in the sea bed off Svalbard formed as methane hydrate erupted from the sea bed when ice sheets retreated at the end of the last ice age. Many of these craters are over a kilometer wide. Image source: K. Andreassen/CAGE.

One subject of concern is the behavior of methane hydrate deposits under warming conditions. It is estimated that upward of trillions of tons of hydrate exist in various frozen deposits around the world. And that even a fractional release from these deposits could contribute to the increasing greenhouse gas overburden in our atmosphere and further exacerbate warming. A potential for such a release in the short term would add risk of increased warming this Century on top of planned emissions from human fossil fuel burning — adding urgency to already necessary rapid emissions cuts (and a related swift transition to renewable energy based economies).

Paleoclimate Evidence of Massive Hydrate Release

This past week, a new study entitled — Massive blow-out craters formed by hydrate-controlled methane expulsion from the Arctic seafloor — lends credence to concerns regarding hydrate release as a potential amplifier to human warming. The study found that as ice sheets retreated and as pressure was relieved from the sea floor near Svalbard 12,000 years ago, pockets of methane hydrate rapidly migrated toward the surface as they turned to gas. This newly gasified methane formed large, high-pressure, mounds on the sea floor. Such mounds were unstable. Sensitive to changes in the local environment, they generated explosive outbursts which released considerable volumes of methane into the ocean and ultimately also added heat-trapping carbon to the Earth’s atmosphere.

The lead author of the study, Karin Andreasson, a professor at the CAGE Centre for Arctic Gas Hydrate, Environment and Climate noted in last week that:

As [the] climate warmed, and the ice sheet collapsed, enormous amounts of methane were abruptly released. This created massive craters that are still actively seeping methane.

Though the methane craters formed off Svalbard around 12,000 years ago as the ice sheet retreated, they are linked to deeper methane pockets and are still leaking gas into the ocean today. Image source: Andreia Plaza Faverola/CAGE.

The researchers characterized these blow-out mounds as similar to those that have recently been forming in the Russian permafrost in places like Yamal and Yakutia. And their research indicates that a process like the one that occurred off Svalbard at the end of the last ice age may be at play as permafrost thins and as gas beneath this cap of frozen soil more rapidly migrates toward the surface — creating unstable blow-out mounds. Researchers also indicated that places presently locked in surface ice — like Greenland and Antarctica — could generate further methane blow out risk as ice sheets melt, withdraw and remove pressure from the methane deposits beneath them.

Conditions in Context

These are important findings due to the fact that paleoclimate evidence of past large-scale hydrate release provides a study-identified mechanism for how permafrost hydrates and gas deposits are being liberated due to present warming, how such warming may increase their rate of liberation in the future, and how ice sheet withdrawal could contribute to this hydrate liberation trend. What remains highly uncertain is the ultimate volume of hydrate response to a given level of warming over a given period and how significantly such releases would contribute to the already very considerable heat forcing provided by human emissions. That said, the new study does add to serious concerns regarding the potential for future warming and greenhouse gas levels — which will tend to be higher than present model studies indicate due to generally not accounting for these kinds of Earth System carbon feedbacks.


Massive blow-out craters formed by hydrate-controlled methane expulsion from the Arctic seafloor

Massive Craters Formed by Methane Blow-outs on Arctic Sea Floor

Massive Craters From Methane Explosions Found in Arctic

Paleoclimate Record of Atmospheric Greenhouse Gasses

Hat tip to TodaysGuestIs

Hat tip to Andy in San Diego

Leave a comment


  1. bostonblorp

     /  June 7, 2017

    I really hate to quote Rumsfeld but the whole “known unknowns and unknown unknowns” trope keeps coming to mind.

    I came across this excellent visualization of monthly temperature deviations today. One to bookmark.

    • It’s more just simple risk analysis. We have a decent idea what a conceptual worst case scenario looks like. We test reality against that.

      Great progression by rat snake there 🙂

    • Jeremy in Wales

       /  June 10, 2017

      Love these data visualisations found this one today on Reddit regarding CO2 emmisions by all the major industrialised countries since 1800

      • Jeremy in Wales

         /  June 10, 2017

        Blast only meant to put the link in!

      • Pretty impressive dip in the U.S. recently — primarily due to a pretty consistent set of policy changes working in combination with more available renewables and a general shift away from coal.

  2. climatehawk1

     /  June 7, 2017

    Tweet scheduled.

  3. Allan Barr

     /  June 7, 2017

    So increases in CO2 of 100 ppm and CH4 of 300 ppb were enough to enable vast changes in our biosphere in the past. Currently over relatively short timeframes we are looking at increases of 130 ppm CO2 and 1150 ppb CH4, all still on sharp upward exponential curves.

    In the meantime the highest ever reliable temp has just been recorded, 56 C in Iran. 73,000 dead Europeans from Heatstroke was not enough to get the worlds attention back in 2003, wonder just what it is going to take before this significant existential threat moves the masses of the world?

  4. Greg

     /  June 7, 2017

    Vestas Launches 9.5-Megawatt Offshore Wind Turbine; Shell Looks to 10-Gigawatt Projects

    They keep getting bigger and better. Lifetimes now estimated to 30 years and I note Shell is a big investor. Scale, and do it fast, please.

    • Thanks for this, Greg.

      Kind of a big deal when a single wind turbine in the near future could be rated at 14 to 15 megawatts and continuously crank out power over the course of a 30 year period. It’s a kind of economy of scale that can really be a game-changer in energy markets. Will also help wind maintain competitiveness as solar continues along its own economy of scale curve.

      Shell pitching in for 10 GW is pretty significant. For example, the total US capacity for wind is now 82 GW. So a single company looking for 10 GW of capability is a major push. This oil major is now putting its foot in the waters of the renewable market. Looks like real money and investment, not greenwash. Actual interest. It would be nice to have more oil majors that share Total’s outlook for the future. And Shell could be headed more in that direction:

      When oil majors start looking toward wind and solar for future revenue growth and for investment stability, that’s pretty telling. Another trend is that renewable energy continues to make inroads into fossil fuel production regions like the middle east —

      From the fossil fuel standpoint, I’m a keep it in the ground kind of guy. But the efficiency and low cost of wind and solar have even those still extracting oil looking to generate steam for extraction from solar and to shift away from use of traditional natural gas (which is now more costly).

      The above article doesn’t just come out and say it, but it’s basically an admission that renewables have won the cost, efficiency, EROEI, and ease of use and access battles. Pretty telling trends overall.

      • Robert E Prue

         /  June 12, 2017

        The problem I see is transporting the power from where it’s produced to where it’s needed. Wouldn’t we need to “re wire” everything?

        • This is kind of an old an very frequently debunked argument, Robert. Renewable energy is distributed power — you build it where sources are available and where energy is needed. For example, in places like India, this advantage is providing rural areas with energy without the need of a larger centralized grid.

          Where grids exist, longer-range integration increases the ability to load share and deal with intermittency from renewable sources. This is not so much ‘rewiring everything’ as expanding on grid capabilities by integrating grids and making grids smarter.

          Finally, the EV revolution provides a larger and larger surplus of after market batteries that serve as an ever expanding latent energy storage capacity.

          The overall synergies between these systems are pretty overwhelming and difficult to stop once the ball gets rolling. And it’s been rolling for a number of years now.

  5. wili

     /  June 7, 2017

    Also perhaps relevant?…

    “Domes of frozen methane may be warning for new blow-outs”

    ” Several methane domes, some 500m wide, have been mapped on the Arctic Ocean floor. They may be signs of soon-to-happen methane expulsions that have previously created massive craters in a near-by area…

    “Every year we go back to the dome area with our research vessel, and every year I am anxious to see if one of these domes has become a crater,” says lead author of the study Pavel Serov, PhD candidate at CAGE at UiT The Arctic University of Norway.

    These domes are the present-day analogue to what scientists think preceded the craters found in the near-by area, which were recently reported in Science. The craters were formed as the ice sheet retreated from the Barents Sea during the deglaciation some 12.000 years ago.”

    Pavel Serov el al., “Postglacial response of Arctic Ocean gas hydrates to climatic amelioration,” PNAS (2017).

    • Looks like the research from CAGE is really starting to come out. Kind of refreshing after what seems to have been a long blackout in this area that really only served to heighten speculation and rumor.

      Thanks for this, Wili.

  6. The article below concerns ozone loss of the central plains of the US linked to climate change. Full article behind paywall. Degree of loss not clear, but that the authors mention Arctic ozone loss in the same breath cannot be a good thing.

    Stratospheric ozone over the United States in summer linked to observations of convection and temperature via chlorine and bromine catalysis. James G. Anderson et. al.

    “Stratospheric ozone is one of the most delicate aspects of habitability on the planet. Removal of stratospheric ozone over the polar regions in winter/spring has established the vulnerability of ozone to halogen catalytic cycles. Elevated ClO concentrations engendered, in part, by heterogeneous catalytic conversion of inorganic chlorine to free radical form on ubiquitous sulfate−water aerosols, govern the rate of ozone removal. We report here observations of the frequency and depth of penetration of convectively injected water vapor into the stratosphere, triggered by severe storms that are specific to the central United States in summer, and model their effect on lower stratospheric ozone. This effect implies, with observed temperatures, increased risk of ozone loss over the Great Plains in summer. “

    • Seems that there’s a general problem with increased atmospheric mixing due to amplified convection. Research identifies potential problems with both ozone and the hydroxyl sink. Of course, this is an area where more study is needed.

  7. Robert in New Orleans

     /  June 8, 2017

    What concerns me is the possibility of a cascading eruption of methane domes under the Arctic Ocean. A dome blows and destabilizes nearby domes by seismic waves, they blow in turn and you now a domino effect. In this scenario you might also have underwater landslides and subsequent tsunamis churning up unstable hydrate deposits elsewhere too.

    • “A dome blows and destabilizes nearby domes by seismic waves, they blow in turn and you now a domino effect. ” I would expect the primary energy pulse to be a surface wave along an unlithified sea floor, and unlikely to transmit a lot of the power needed to trigger another dome. (Stand back! I’ve got a little knowledge and I’m not afraid to use it!)

      • Robert in New Orleans

         /  June 11, 2017

        I don’t disagree with you, and I hope you are correct in that a cascade eruption of methane gas is less probable than I fear. However the science of climate change/global warming has been a little less than accurate in anticipating the rate and severity of the resulting effects. The science behind genesis of these domes needs a lot intense field research and the sooner the better.

        PS I like the term “unlithified”. 🙂 In the the 9th grade the topic of my formal research paper in English class was Plate Tectonics and only myself and one of the school’s science teachers knew what the hell I was talking about.

        • Mblanc

           /  June 11, 2017

          Bill McGuire talks in his book about the possibility of methane releases off Greenland, as temperatures rise.

          I can’t remember why he specifically mentioned Greenland, but it was in association with underwater landslides, as I recall.

          I would recommend his work, if anyone knows whether cascades are possible, it is probably him. Here is a recent lecture.

        • j_menadue

           /  June 12, 2017

          Instead of “unlithified”, you could have tried “ungorgonized”.

      • A larger general discussion covering the issue would be helpful. And it’s probably a good time to re-approach the overall thread as new bits of information become available.

  8. Tigertown

     /  June 8, 2017

    Not to step on anyone’s toes, but I don’t necessarily think the ice that was involved has been gone that long. The Barents shelf is not that deep, in the hundreds of meters rather than thousands. The way ice covered the Arctic a couple hundred years ago, I can easily picture ice from the floor of the shelf up to the surface, until the Industrial age began not very far away, as the crow(frozen crow) flies. Of course that would implicate us humans all the more so, if proven true.

    • Brian

       /  June 8, 2017

      I was actually concerned about the inverse of that. Basically, do we know that ice covered this area all the way to the sea floor? If not, then how do we know that these blowouts are from the most-recent ice-age retreat? I should read the report, but I don’t have focused time for that right now.

      • Allan Barr

         /  June 11, 2017

        Sailors trying to find a Northwest passage reported arctic sea ice as high as 20 feet which implies ice thickness over 100 feet. I suspect much of that ice may have been grounded.

    • 3-4 kilometer tall ice sheet extent during glacial maximum:

      Close up of Svalbard extent to include the study’s region of interest:

      It appears that the last time these regions were covered by large ice sheets was during the Younger Dryas of about 14,500 years ago. And the study timeframe of approximately 12,000 years ago coincides with the loss of large ice sheets. To be clear, we’re not talking about sea ice. These would have been massive grounded glaciers comparable in height to those now on Greenland.

      • Brian

         /  June 12, 2017

        Thank you for clearing that up. With grounded glaciers, it’s clear that these craters cannot be older than that.

  9. Ryan in New England

     /  June 8, 2017

    A new study has found that the chances of 100 year floods will increase dramatically in the coming years, with the average risk of a 100 year flood increasing 40 fold by 2050.

    The research found that if emissions are not curbed, San Francisco and Seattle would both get a 100-year flood every year by 2050, while San Diego would expect 10 such events annually and Key West in Florida would be hit 11 times a year. Some of the worst affected areas would be in Hawaii, with Mokuoloe island, situated off Oahu, forecast to be deluged by 130 floods a year that are currently considered to be 100-year events.

    Look at those numbers! San Diego and Key West will be getting a 100 year flood every month while places in Hawaii will experience them every 2-3 days. That it not something that can easily be adapted to.

    • Thanks for this, Ryan. Excellent study well worth exploring further.

      Perhaps what needs to be clairified here is that this particular research explores the combined effects of increased heavy rainfall and sea level rise:

      “Sea level rise of just a few centimeters is enough to significantly raise the risk of flooding, with the problem exacerbated by an increase in the severity of storms due to a warming, moisture-laden atmosphere.”

  10. Greg

     /  June 8, 2017

    These numbers need to keep rising fast. The IEA has been conservative but solar adoption rates have taken almost all of us by surprise.

  11. Timescales of methane seepage on the Norwegian margin following collapse of the Scandinavian Ice Sheet

    “Methane efflux continued for 7–10 kyr, tracking hydrate stability changes controlled by relative sea-level rise, bottom water warming and fluid pathway evolution in response to changing stress fields. The protracted nature of seafloor methane emissions probably attenuated the impact of hydrate dissociation on the climate system.”

    It’s becoming apparent that large amounts of methane hydrate can accumulate under ice sheets. When the ice sheets melt, that hydrate can start to dissociate. If that hydrate dissociates slowly, over thousands of years, it’s impact on the climate system is minimal.

    But modern climate change is happening very quickly.

    The danger is that this will all happen so quickly that the oxidation mechanisms of the oceans and the atmosphere will be overwhelmed. Basin scale anoxia due to nutrient depletion of bacterial communities is predicted to occur by the modeling of the now de-funded IMPACTS group of national labs and universities. As entire ocean basins become anoxic, an increasing fraction of methane is predicted to make it past the barrier of the oceans and into the atmosphere.

    Terrestrial meta-stable methane hydrates under Siberia are likely causing the alternative pingos and methane blowout craters there.

    The amounts of methane hydrate that can accumulate under an ice sheet are disturbing. They are talking an increase in the thickness of the gas hydrate stability zone of about 500 meters, due to the pressure of the ice sheet.

    If the layer of meta-stable methane hydrate probably existing under Siberia is millions of square kilometers in area, and hundreds of meters deep, how much methane hydrate is that?

    Each cubic meter of methane hydrate that dissociates will release 170 cubic meters of methane gas.

    • This meta-stable layer of methane hydrate likely existing under Siberia will of course not be solid methane hydrate – a small percentage of it will likely be methane hydrate. What percentage of the sediment is methane hydrate? The gas hydrate under Siberia is certainly outside the hydrate stability zone – it is hundreds of meters too shallow to be be truly stable.

    • It is common knowledge among Russian drilling crews in Siberia that there is a high gas layer at 50-200 meters depth that they have to use thick drilling mud to punch through, to prevent a drilling rig blowout.

      If this layer covers a million square kilometers, and has a total hydrate thickness of one meter, that’s 1000 cubic kilometers of methane hydrate. At roughly 10 percent methane, that’s something on the order of 100 Gt of methane, I think.

      Since we only have about 5 Gt of methane in the atmosphere right now, and forcing from methane is currently the second largest greenhouse effect, 100 Gt under Siberia could be significant, I think, depending on how rapidly it is released.

      Certainly, the methane blowout craters are unusual. So, something odd appears to be going on under Siberia, and it could be meta-stable methane hydrate, left over from past glaciations.

    • Impact of Regional Climatic Change on the Stability of Relic Gas Hydrates

      M. M. Arzhanov, Corresponding Member of the RAS I. I. Mokhov, and S. N. Denisov
      Received February 25, 2016

      ” Discovered craters of smaller diameter with
      traces of thrown out rocks [2], surface features in the
      Yamal Peninsula, and numerous small lakes of round
      shape suggest a fairly high probability of such events in
      the region. In particular, small lakes ranging in size
      from a few meters to more than 200 meters make up
      about 97% of the total number of lakes in the Central
      Yamal Region, according to the interpretation results
      of ultrahigh resolution satellite images ”

      The size distribution of the small lakes covering hundreds of thousands of square kilometers of Siberia is not random, I realized last night. These guys have noticed it too – 97% of lakes in the Yamal region are from a few meters to 200 meters in diameter.

      It’s almost like this narrow size distribution was caused by an underlying physical process constrained by similar physics…like methane blowouts.

      Are most of these hundreds of thousands or millions of small lakes produced by methane blowouts? If so – this characteristic topography containing huge numbers of small lakes covers huge areas of Siberia, and very small areas of North America.

      Is this characteristic topography containing a narrow distribution of lake size generated by an underlying layer of metastable methane hydrate? If so, even if this layer is quite thin, this could total up to a lot of methane hydrate, because the area of this characteristic topography is really huge.

    • Thanks for the added comment and research, Leland. I would generally like to see more light shone in this area.

  12. Jacque

     /  June 8, 2017

    New post on Sam Carana’s Arctic blogspot:

    High Waves Set To Batter Arctic Ocean

    “…these storms come as Arctic sea ice thickness is at record low…Strong winds over the Arctic Ocean can cause high waves and these waves can break up the sea ice, mix warmer water all the way down to the seafloor, and destabilize hydrates that can contain huge amounts of methane…”

    • Jacque

       /  June 8, 2017

    • The near term forecast for the Arctic isn’t too remarkable when it comes to storms. But, yeah, any open water and you get the potential for large swells. The North Atlantic, however, seems unusually stormy for this time of year. And we could get a big storm running up through the Barents at any time if this trend continues.


      Similar conditional trends for North Pacific. Though we’d tend to expect a stormy N Pacific at this time of year, a weaker and further northward extending Jet Stream may also provide an opening for storms to enter the Arctic Ocean.

      Short term forecast shows a high maintaining over the Beaufort which would tend to increase compaction and ice edge withdrawal there, while fending off storms. The Kara and NE Barents looks rather stormy in the short term forecast. Very warm conditions over central Siberia are creating a dipole anomaly that is helping to fuel relatively strong storms over the Kara. Recently we’ve had a number in the upper 970 to 980s mb range. So rather strong here too.

      That said, nothing amazing on the horizon in the 5-7 day model runs. Longer runs show a generally stormy situation on the Siberian side due primarily to that dipole mentioned above.

  13. bostonblorp

     /  June 8, 2017

    Heat related deaths expected to soar in India

    ” a 0.9 degree Fahrenheit (0.5 Celsius) rise in temperature, the probability of a heat wave with more than 100 deaths in India increased to 32 percent from 13 percent. …. Some experts expect India’s temperature to rise by 4 to 10 degrees Fahrenheit (2.2 to 5.5 Celsius) by the end of this century.”

    The deaths are of course the ultimate tragic outcome but what of the greatly diminished quality of life? Having spent time in the tropics I know firsthand how miserable it is to be in humid, mid-90s heat. Which is comparatively mild relative to the forecast.

    • Jeremy in Wales

       /  June 11, 2017

      In no way do I want to trivialise the serious situation that is taking place in India but there is a corollary and that is fewer winter deaths from hypothermia in northern latitude countries. The UK has an excess of winter deaths over summer months, partly caused by respiratory diseases but also hypothermia caused by under insulated homes and fuel poverty, plus deaths in rough sleepers. While the Office of Official statistics show excess winter deaths in the region of 25,000 to 49,000 per year, dependent on whether the flu jab has been effective, they do no breakdown those caused by cold.
      This article suggests it could be as high as 15,000. From experience living in an old cold house in a cold winter can be miserable and it must get worse the older you get.

  14. Erik Frederiksen

     /  June 9, 2017

    The higher we let global temperatures rise the greater the risk of them going really high.

    Amplifying feedbacks are still not nailed by any means.

    During the PETM temps reached around 14C above pre-industrial.

  15. Abel Adamski

     /  June 9, 2017

    What is happening with JAXA ?.
    NSIDC is only up to 08/06/2017

  16. June

     /  June 9, 2017

    Good Category 6 blog post by Bob Henson. And nice acknowledgement of Neven.

    Arctic Sea Ice Primed for Phenomenal Melt Season

    • Erik Frederiksen

       /  June 10, 2017

      From PNAS in 2013. “Using satellite measurements, this analysis directly quantifies how much the Arctic as viewed from space has darkened in response to the recent sea ice retreat. We find that this decline has caused 6.4 ± 0.9 W/m2 of radiative heating since 1979, considerably larger than expectations from models and recent less direct estimates. Averaged globally, this albedo change is equivalent to 25% of the direct forcing from CO2 during the past 30 y.”

      The reduction in snow cover in the North adds a similar warming as the sea ice melt.

      The amplifying feedback of ice melt, already quite large according to the above, will increase significantly as Arctic summer ice largely disappears by mid-century or earlier.

    • Scheduling tweet on this, thanks.

    • Excellent comprehensive blog by Bob Henson here. Early model predictions are inconclusive for strong June melt, IMO. We do have a high tending to form over Beaufort. And we do have strong lows over the Siberian side — which is pretty bad. But for this to be a record-smashing June we need a strong Beaufort High and strong lows on the Siberian side. It seems to want to go that way, be the forecast isn’t quite lining up yet.

  17. Abel Adamski

     /  June 10, 2017

    Some great footage

    Melbourne-based adventurer Liam Suckling has scaled Antarctica’s tallest mountain and has captured astonishing drone footage of some never-before-seen areas of the icy continent.

    The summit of Mt Vinson is almost five kilometres above sea level, and is more than twice as high as Australia’s highest peak, Mount Kosciuszko. It is the world’s eighth-highest mountain, and it was discovered only in 1958, five years after Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay scaled Mount Everest.

    Stuck with the ad

  18. Robert in New Orleans

     /  June 11, 2017

    A really good article from the NY Times:

    • One way to educate students about climate science would be for the New York Times to cover climate science fully and fairly. They seem somewhat better now, but for decades their coverage of global warming has been really terrible, with many global warming stories covered only briefly or not at all.

      Typical of the Times to help create a problem, then create conceptual frames in their stories that absolve them of any responsibility, I think.

      I doubt seriously that young people are the problem with climate science education of the general public. Polls show younger people much more concerned with global warming than older people. Those young people who are resistant to global warming science probably get it from their parents…some of whom read the Times. Let the New York Times do its job, and the young people will follow, I think.

      • Hatrack

         /  June 13, 2017

        Not hiring op-ed columnists with a well-documented history of science denialism would also be a step in the right direction. Not disbanding the NYT Environment team back in 2012 would have probably been a worthy move as well.

  19. Abel Adamski

     /  June 11, 2017

    Americans ‘under siege’ from climate disinformation – former Nasa chief scientist

    Fake news spread by those with a profit motive is leaving many people oblivious to the threat of climate change, says former head of US space agency

  20. Good video featuring Vladmir Romanovsky, geophysicist from the University of Alaska, discussing permafrost melt, and formation of possible blowout lakes from Siberian relic methane hydrate.

    He makes the point that there are hundreds of thousands of small lakes in the area, and that an unknown number of them could be methane blowout lakes.

    He was quoted in the Washington Post saying that there may be 100,000 alternative pingos in Siberia – small hills that grow and may later become methane blowouts. He believes that these alternative pingos may contain relic methane hydrate. He makes the point that there are hundreds of thousands of these small lakes, that could originate as methane blowout craters.

    Is there a widespread layer of relic metastable methane hydrate under Siberia? Evidence is mounting that this layer actually exists.

    I was looking at the topography of this area on Google Earth. To me, it looks entirely consistent with a massive number of blowouts several thousand years ago, since turned into lakes. Some of these lakes have since been apparently erased by erosion, as small streams cut through these apparent blowout areas. This erosion gives us some idea of the time they were formed, and from the shallow depth of these water erosion features several thousand years seems like a good guess.

    These methane blowouts could have been popping like popcorn nine to five thousand years ago, during the Holocene Climate Optimum.

    I urge readers to get on Google Earth, and look at some of these lakes in Yamal and surrounding areas. The lakes in question cover hundreds of thousands of square kilometers, and are generally one hundred meters to several hundred meters in diameter. Readers could also look how shallow streams created by water erosion cut through and partially erase these small lakes.

    • Great additional points here, Leland 🙂

      • Thanks, Robert. If this stream erosion idea holds up, maybe it could be used to find new craters and alternative pingos.

        It’s a shame this is not a happier subject. If there is a regional layer of metastable methane hydrate under Siberia, left over from previous glaciations, that could be a huge serious problem for the climate.

        If this idea holds up, areas wiped clean by stream erosion over the last several thousand years of colder climate should be free from old blowout craters and alternative pingos. So any blemishes that show up in those wiped clean areas could be new.

        We need higher resolution satellite images, though, or a mixture of satellite and aerial photography.

  21. wharf rat

     /  June 12, 2017

    California DWR
    Published on Jun 7, 2017

    Kiewit continues demolition of the Lake Oroville flood control spillway, and begins pouring concrete in the lower section of the chute onto recently cleaned rock

  22. This article doesn’t have anything to do with methane, but at least it’s in English. Results of a decades long comparison between fragments of Amazon Rainforest, noting the influence of edges and exceptional weather (droughts in 2005, 2010, 2014, floods, etc):

  23. Viv

     /  July 17, 2017

    Hi, I am fairly sure I saw a methane blowout while flying Helsinki- Narita, Tokyo with finnair on the night of 9/10 April 2017. We arrived at 9am Tokyo time. I saw a very big pillar of fire in the dark over Siberia. If it was a controlled burn off from a well it was too big. We were at height and this thing was as big as my thumb held up to the starboard window. As it was dark I have no idea how far away it was but I imagine we were at cruising altitude. This pillar of fire burned the whole time it was in view and must have been massive. I guess it may have been industrial but it was just too big, you couldn’t have anyone near it. Anyway no idea who to report it to but it does seem to match up with a reported new crater in yamal.


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