US-Russian talks on methane emissions in the Arctic | Polarjournal
At their meeting in Geneva in 2021, Biden had asked Russian President Putin in passing: “What are you doing with the methane”. (Photo: Wikipedia)

At a meeting between US President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin on June 16, 2021 in Geneva, Biden had addressed the problem of methane release in the Arctic. The White House made the announcement. Biden had expressed concern about the environmental situation and stated that “nobody knows yet how to fix the problem”. Biden said this on March 29, 2024 at a meeting of Democratic Party representatives to raise funds for his election campaign.

Giant holes are appearing on the Yamal and Gydan peninsulas. Scientists are both puzzled and concerned about this phenomenon. (Graphic: Heiner Kubny)

The problem of methane emissions in the Arctic was also a topic of discussion between Russian President Vladimir Putin and US President Joe Biden during their meeting in Geneva in June 2021.

Joe Biden: “I asked Putin “What are you doing with the methane”. He mentioned that he had raised the issue and pointed out significant emissions in the Russian Arctic. There are eight time zones above the Arctic Circle where methane emissions occur, the American president recalled. Putin had made it clear that he was well aware of the existing problem, but that he found it difficult to answer how exactly it should be solved.

Scientist Dr. Evgeny Chuvilin said the crater was the result of “colossal forces of nature”. (Photo: Vesti Yamal)

How dangerous is methane

Arctic methane release refers to the emission of methane from the waters of the Arctic Ocean and from permafrost soils in Arctic regions. Although this is a long-term natural process, the release of methane is exacerbated by global warming.

When the Arctic warms up, methane that has been trapped in the permafrost for thousands of years escapes and create explosions. Released methane that finds its way to the surface contributes to the greenhouse effect of climate change, as it can store even more heat than carbon dioxide.

More than 11,000 pingos are known in the Arctic. Crater-forming explosions are much rarer. So far, they have only been observed on the Siberian peninsulas of Yamal and Gydan. (Photo: Siberian Times)

Crater 17 – Portal to hell

Russian scientists believe that a huge crater above the Arctic Circle, known as the “Portal to Hell”, was created by an explosion caused by accumulated methane. The 20-meter-wide and 52-meter-deep hole was discovered by a helicopter pilot in July 2014.

This is the seventeenth crater to be discovered on the remote Russian peninsulas of Yamal and Gydan. The first hole, which appeared in 2013, puzzled scientists. They assume that the occurrence of craters is linked to climate change. Photos taken by drones, 3D models and artificial intelligence are to help uncover their secrets.

Several such craters have been discovered in the Siberian Arctic since 2014. Scientists believe that the craters are caused by methane and carbon dioxide gases trapped in mounds of dirt and ice (Photo: Evgeny Chuvilin)

“The new crater-17 is very well preserved, as no surface water had accumulated in it at the time of our investigation. This allowed us to study a “fresh” crater that remained untouched by erosion,” said Evgeny Chuvilin, who works as a leading researcher at the Center for Hydrocarbon Production at the Skolkovo Institute of Science and Technology.

Heiner Kubny, PolarJournal

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