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Thawing underwater permafrost may cause industrial accidents in the Arctic, scientists say

This conclusion was made by the Russian expedition, studying greenhouse gases’ emissions in the Laptev Sea and in the East Siberian Sea

MOSCOW, October 17. /TASS/. The underwater permafrost’s thawing in the Eastern Arctic’s seas may cause major industrial accidents on the Arctic shelf. This conclusion was made by Russian scientists, who study greenhouse gases’ emissions during an Arctic expedition, the Ministry of Science and Higher Education’s press service said.

The expedition, surveying the Arctic offshore areas as sources of greenhouse gases, continues working in the Eastern Arctic seas - in the Laptev Sea and in the East Siberian Sea. The expedition is organized by the Academy of Sciences’ Viktor Ilyichev Ocean Studies and the Pyotr Shirshov Ocean Studies Institutes and Tomsk’s Polytechnic University.

"Scientists say that in the progressing thawing of the underwater permafrost, methane’s emissions from the East Arctic’s seas may affect the planet’s entire climate system," the ministry’s press service said.

"As for preliminary results, which the expedition has received, we can say quite confidently that most surveyed seeps have grown in sizes after the recent studies in 2014 and 2016," the press service quoted the expedition’s leader, Professor at the Tomsk Polytechnic University Igor Semiletov as saying. "Consequences of the geo-ecological catastrophes, which may occur in exploration and production works, and which will ignore results of the latest scientific studies - uncontrolled emission of hydrate gas and so forth - in the material sphere may cause damages, which are hard to overestimate."

According to the ministry’s press service, it is for the first time that the expedition studies the East Arctic’s seas using unmanned underwater vehicles with manipulators, and seabed seismic stations.

About the expedition

The expedition’s base in on board the Russian scientific-research fleet’s flagship Akademik Mstislav Keldysh, which left Arkhangelsk’s port on September 21. The expedition of 55 scientists from the country’s leading scientific institutions will last for 35 days.