An international team of scientists have discovered evidence that frozen methane deposits in the Arctic Ocean are starting to be released, potentially adding dangerous fuel to fast-changing global climate conditions.
According to the International Siberian Shelf Study (ISSS-2020), methane levels at the surface of the ocean are currently four to eight times higher than normal, while slope sediments extending across the continental shelf contain a wealth of frozen methane hydrates, reports The Guardian.
The frozen methane deposits are believed to be “sleeping giants of the carbon cycle,” because the release of the greenhouse gas could potentially expedite climate change due to the fact that it has a warming effect that is about 80 times more potent than carbon dioxide. The release of methane into the atmosphere is believed to be one of the major contributors to global warming, scientists have warned.
“Climate warming is awakening the ‘sleeping giants’ of the carbon cycle, namely permafrost and methane hydrates,” Stockholm University Prof. Örjan Gustafsson, a leader of the ISSS-2020 expedition, said in a statement last month.
“How much this will lead to added emissions of the strong greenhouse gas methane is poorly understood,” he added. “This is one of the grand challenges in current climate change research and a central goal of the expedition to address.”
The new discovery of methane released in the Arctic Ocean is now raising major concerns that a new climate feedback loop may have just begun.
The ISSS-2020 explained:
“One of the greatest uncertainties surrounding climate warming [concerns] the emission of naturally occurring greenhouse gases, such as methane, carbon dioxide, and nitrous oxide (N2O) from Arctic thawing permafrost, and collapsing methane hydrates—crystals made of methane gas molecules ‘caged’ between solid water molecules—in the seabed north of Siberia will increase in the future.”
The chief scientist of the expedition, Prof. Igor Semiletov of the Russian Academy of Sciences, called the methane discharges “significantly larger” than anything previously observed. The leader of the ISSS-2020 team also acknowledged that their findings are preliminary, and the actual scale of methane releases still need to be analyzed and confirmed.
“The discovery of actively releasing shelf slope hydrates is very important and unknown until now,” Semiletov said. “This is a new page. Potentially they can have serious climate consequences, but we need more study before we can confirm that.”
Likewise, any impact on the climate won’t be felt in the near future. However, in time the massive release of methane could very likely contribute to the changing climate.
“At this moment, there is unlikely to be any major impact on global warming, but the point is that this process has now been triggered,” Gustafsson said. “This East Siberian slope methane hydrate system has been perturbed and the process will be ongoing.”
Get Ready for This Week’s Full “Strawberry Moon” – The Last Supermoon of 2021
However, this month will see the year’s last supermoon– with a full “strawberry moon” gracing our night skies in the latter half of this week.
A “supermoon” takes place when a new or full moon is at its closest approach to Earth in its orbit. As a result, the moon will appear to be significantly larger and brighter than the usual full moons taking place throughout the year. Researchers remain split on whether the upcoming June moon is, indeed, a supermoon.
Much of this has to do with the different criteria used by various publications over which full moons actually qualify as supermoons, according to NASA.
“For 2021, some publications consider the four full Moons from March to June, some the three full Moons from April to June, and some only the two full Moons in April and May as supermoons,” said the space agency’s Gordon Johnston.
And while the expectation of a dazzling red- or pink-hued moon would make sense given the June moon’s title as a “strawberry moon,” the moon will be its typical golden hue.
The strawberry moon name instead reflects the time of year when Native American peoples harvested the fruit in parts of North America, notes the Farmer’s Almanac.
The strawberry moon marks the final full moon of spring or the first of the summer season. It has also gone by a number of other names, according to The Farmer’s Almanac. These names include the birth moon, blooming moon, egg laying moon, green corn moon, hoer moon, hatching moon, honey moon and mead moon.
The full moon will be at its brightest on Thursday, June 24, at 2:40 p.m. ET, but won’t be fully visible until later that evening when it ascends past the horizon. The moon will then appear full for roughly three days, from about Wednesday morning through Saturday morning.
The precise time of the moonrise and moonset in your location can be found at timeanddate.com.
And don’t worry if weather conditions won’t allow you to view this rare lunar event – you can also view it live from the comfort of your home using the Virtual Telescope Project’s livestream of the moon over Rome, Italy, which begins on June 24 at 3 p.m. ET.
Police Rescue Dogs Trapped In Car on Sizzling Hot Day, Owners Complain About Broken Window
Police in the UK acted quickly to save a two dogs locked inside a car in sizzling hot temperatures by smashing open a window, upsetting the car’s owner over the damage.
Officers responded Sunday to reports that a beagle and another dog were trapped in a car parked in the seaside British city of Brighton on a day of boiling heat.
In video captured of the incident, an officer can be seen jamming his baton through a rear window before finally shattering it to free the pooches.
This prompts the car alarm to go off as the car’s owners can be seen rushing toward it, upset over the police intervention.
A woman, standing with her shocked family, says: “You broke my window out!”
One of the officer responded: “It’s a hot day. You shouldn’t be leaving the dog in the car in this weather.”
The incident happened on a day when people across the region flock to the seaside resort city to dip into the beaches amid surging hot temperatures.
The onlooker who filmed the incident noted that the owners seemed unaware of the dangers posed to their pets by weather conditions.
“Where they had parked there is just no shade,” they told The Sun. “It’s directly on the seafront in 25°C (77°F) weather outside – I’ve got no idea what it was inside the car.”
The family was indignant over what they claim was an overreaction by the police.
“At first it was ‘what the f*** are you doing, why did you break my car window? I was only gone for 10 minutes,’” another witness explained.
“The bloke obviously thought he was completely in the right,” they added. “He didn’t really seem to have much empathy.”
According to UK animal welfare group RSPCA, outside temperatures of 22°C (71°F) can reach a brutal 47°C (116.6°F) inside a car within an hour.
“Police officers attended and tried to get a contact number for the owners of the car but were unable,” a Sussex Police spokesperson said. “Officers had no choice but to smash the side window to gain access and a kind member of the public donated a bottle of water.”
Authorities added that the officers let the pet owners off with a stern warning, without ticketing the family or separating their dogs from them.
Scientists Prove What Causes Aurora Borealis for the First Time
Since the dawn of time, humans have been mystified by what causes the aurora borealis or northern lights. However, a group of scientists have finally uncovered what causes the dazzling lightshow that has captivated people for so long.
Researchers at the University of Iowa have proven that the shimmering auroras are the result of powerful electromagnetic waves during geomagnetic storms, according to a newly published study.
According to the study, phenomena known as Alfven waves propel electrons toward Earth and cause the particles to produce the brilliant display of northern lights seen in the higher latitudes of our planet,
“Measurements revealed this small population of electrons undergoes ‘resonant acceleration’ by the Alfven wave’s electric field, similar to a surfer catching a wave and being continually accelerated as the surfer moves along with the wave,” Prof. Greg Howes, a co-author of the study, told CNN.
Scientists have long understood that the aurora was the likely result of electrons surfing across the electric field, at least since the theory was introduced in 1946 by Soviet scientist Lev Landau.
However, the University of Iowa professors were able to finally put the theory to the test through a simulation at a lab at the Large Plasma Device (LPD) in the Basic Plasma Science Facility of the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA).
Using a 20-meter-long chamber to simulate the magnetic field of the Earth through state-of-the-art magnetic field coils, scientists were able to generate plasma similar to that which exists in spac.
“Using a specially designed antenna, we launched Alfven waves down the machine, much like shaking a garden hose up and down quickly, and watching the wave travel along the hose,” said Howes.
While this didn’t result in the type of auroras we might see in the sky, “our measurements in the laboratory clearly agreed with predictions from computer simulations and mathematical calculations, proving that electrons surfing on Alfven waves can accelerate the electrons (up to speeds of 45 million mph) that cause the aurora,” Howes noted.
Scientists across the country were elated by the results of the experiment.
“I was tremendously excited! It is a very rare thing to see a laboratory experiment that validates a theory or model concerning the space environment,” said Patrick Koehn, a scientist in the Heliophysics Division of NASA.
“Space is simply too big to easily simulate in the lab,” he added.
Researchers are hopeful that a greater understanding will allow forecasters to better understand weather conditions in space.
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