MOSCOW, May 24. /TASS/. Russian scientists opened a new mechanism, explaining influence from salt migration emerging from decomposition of huge gas (methane) hydrates reserves on the Arctic shelf, the Skolkovo Institute of Science and Technology’s (Skoltech) press service said. Results of the studies are published on Geosciences magazine’s website.
Methane is a main greenhouse gas, which affects the global warming. Russian scientists came to "understanding of the mechanism of massive methane release from bottom sediments of the East Siberian Arctic shelf," the article reads. Active releases not only influence the global warming, but also affect carbon balance and cause accidents in the Arctic, a most promising region for hydrocarbon production. This is why President of the Russian Academy of Sciences Alexander Sergeyev named as a priority the problem to study reasons of methane releases on the East-Siberian shelf, the press service said.
"Experts from Skoltech, the Tomsk Polytechnic University and the Academy of Sciences’ Pacific Oceanology Institute saw that one of the reasons for big methane emissions from bottom sediments on the East-Siberian shelf is destabilizing of gas hydrates, which are located on submarine permafrost, when they react with salt solutions (sea water), which migrate into the thawing underwater permafrost," the press service said.
"Gas hydrates are crystalline clathrate compounds that are formed from gas (mainly methane in natural conditions) and water under certain temperature and pressure conditions," the Russian scientists said in the article. "An important characteristic of gas hydrates is a huge accumulation of gas in the clathrate structure-up to 160 volumes of gas in one volume of hydrate."
"As it is well known, methane is one of the most active greenhouse gases. In this regard, the dissociation of Arctic gas hydrates, accompanied by the active emission of methane into the atmosphere, can have a significant greenhouse effect and cause climate change," the article reads.
"Special experiments were conducted on the interaction of frozen sandy sediments containing relict methane hydrates with salt solutions of different concentrations at negative temperatures to assess the conditions of intrapermafrost gas hydrates dissociation," the press service quoted Skoltech’s expert Evgeny Chuvilin as saying. "Experiments showed that the migration of salts into frozen hydrate-containing sediments activates the decomposition of pore gas hydrates and increase the methane emission. These results allowed for an understanding of the mechanism of massive methane release from bottom sediments of the East Siberian Arctic shelf."
Skoltech is a non-governmental scientific and educational institution established in 2011 as part of a multi-year partnership with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.