Methane: A Time Bomb!


Methane Vs Carbon Dioxide:

What major component of greenhouse gases comes to mind when you hear the term "greenhouse gas"? Because of its more deleterious effect, I'm quite sure it's carbon dioxide. You are not to blame if Methane cannot have equally lethal effects than you believe. Now, to clarify the concept, both Carbon Dioxide and Methane are major contributors to greenhouse gas emissions, but it is worth noting that carbon dioxide, as opposed to methane, has a higher concentration but a lower warming potential.

While Carbon Dioxide is often portrayed as the villain of greenhouse gases, Methane is around 30 times more effective as a heat-trapping gas than carbon dioxide. Methane can have a significant impact on climate because it is a powerful greenhouse gas—about 28 times stronger than carbon dioxide over a 100-year timescale, and more than 80 times more potent over a 20-year timescale.

When it comes to concentration, there's only around 1,800 parts per billion of Methane in the atmosphere, which is roughly the same as two cups water in a swimming pool. This is around 200 times less than Carbon Dioxide in the atmosphere. However, because Methane's molecular structure is so powerful at trapping heat, even a small increase in Methane in the atmosphere can have a significant impact on how much and how rapidly the globe heats.

Methane in the Arctic:

In the Arctic, there are two probable methane sources. Methyl clathrate is the first source of methane. Methyl clathrates are methane molecules that have formed ice crystals. They can occur deep below the Earth or beneath the sea, but only under very specific conditions, like as high pressure and low temperature. The ice that holds the methane will break apart if the temperature or pressure changes, allowing the methane to escape.

Organic debris frozen in permafrost is another significant source of methane in the Arctic. Permafrost has a large amount of carbon in its biological materials. It's made up of thousands of years' worth of dead plants and animals frozen deep in permafrost. It will persist in the permafrost as long as the organic matter remains frozen. It will, however, decompose if it thaws, releasing methane into the atmosphere.

Methane Bomb in Siberia:

In latest years, climate scientists have warned that thawing permafrost in Siberia might be a slow detonating "methane time bomb." Warming temperatures in Russia's far north are releasing large amounts of methane, according to a peer-reviewed study based on satellite imagery and an assessment by an international agency. Large levels of methane were identified from exposed limestone in satellite pictures of a newly unexplored region in Siberia. The emissions were caused by a heat wave in 2020.

Temperatures in the basin climbed approximately 11 degrees Fahrenheit above average in 2020, causing old methane deposits to be released from the limestone. The Climate Crisis Advisory Group (CCAG) has issued a statement calling for a "global state of emergency" as temperatures in Siberia and other Arctic regions continue to rise. Permafrost covers 65 percent of Russian territory, but it is rapidly melting.

Warming temperatures in the Arctic may be driving the region toward an "irreversible" tipping point, resulting in the emission of methane and other pollutants, as well as deteriorating infrastructure in Siberia, including dams and a nuclear power plant. Scientists have long suspected that global warming could trigger a "methane bomb" in the Arctic, with massive amounts of methane released rapidly from thawing permafrost and undersea methane hydrates. An emission of this magnitude could result in extinction-level warming!

About the Author: Iman Haroon is presently a student of Bachelor of Environmental Science at the Government College Women University, Sialkot. She's a green blogger who is volunteering to write for TENL in order to raise environmental awareness.




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