7,000 underground gas bubbles poised to 'explode' in Arctic

Bulging bumps in the Yamal and Gydan peninsulas believed to be caused by thawing permafrost releasing methane.

Scientists have discovered as many as 7,000 gas-filled 'bubbles' expected to explode in Actic regions of Siberia after an exercise involving field expeditions and satellite surveillance, TASS reported.

A number of large craters - seen on our images here - have appeared on the landscape in northern Siberia in recent years and they are being carefully studied by scientists who believe they were formed when pingos exploded.  

Alexey Titovsky, director of Yamal department for science and innovation, said:  'At first such a bump is a bubble, or 'bulgunyakh' in the local Yakut language. 

'With time the bubble explodes, releasing gas. This is how gigantic funnels form.' 

The total of 7,000 - reported by TASS -  is startlingly more than previously known. 

Norway fines French Arctic adventurer

A Norwegian court on Tuesday slapped the leader of a French maritime expedition with a fine of 30,000 kroner (3,300 euros, $3,500) for violating the regulations of the Arctic Svalbard archipelago.

Gilles Elkaim was convicted of violating several local rules including anchoring in a forbidden nature reserve, failing to notify the authorities of his stops in protected areas, and travelling with dogs without necessary veterinary authorisation.

A court in Tromsø, located in northern Norway, also ruled the 56-year-old Frenchman must reimburse legal costs of 10,000 kroner (1,090 euros, $1,180).

"It's a safe bet that we will appeal the decision if it's not favourable, "Elkaim had told AFP in a written message on Monday, slamming the case against him as a "parody of justice".

Norwegian authorities impounded his Arktika 2.0 vessel, a 15-metre sailboat carrying three people and seven sled dogs, last October in Longyearbyen, the capital of Svalbard.

Elkaim claims to have decided to spend winter in a northeastern fjord of the archipelago due to a pump failure and bad weather that prevented his boat from reaching its point of departure in the Arctic.

The purpose of a planned two-year expedition was to drift in icy waters between the islands of New Siberia and Greenland, then reach the North Pole by sledge.

In November, the adventurer refused to pay a fine of 25,000 kroner (2,730 euros, $2,950), which resulted in a trial in Longyearbyen in February.

Arctic starts 2017 with 'heat waves'

The Arcitic is experiencing what amounts to heat waves, the World Meteorological Organisation says.

Last year's global temperature record has been followed this year by warm spells in the North Pole region that amount to Arctic heat waves, the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) says.

This phenomenon has occurred three times during this Arctic winter due to warm, moist winds from the Atlantic Sea, leading to melting-point temperatures at a time when the sea ice normally refreezes.

The WMO also reported record low ice levels in the Antarctic this year.

"We are now in truly uncharted territory," the WMO's chief climate researcher David Carlson said in a statement.

The warmer temperatures at the North Pole are changing the way that sea waters and air streams move around the globe to influence weather, the UN agency said.

Arctic and Antarctic sea ice at record lows during unusually warm February

By Robert Ferris

Sea ice cover in both the Arctic and Antarctic reached record lows during an exceptionally warm February, according to new data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Both land and ocean surface temperature averages from December through February were the second highest they have been since measurements began in 1880, and were right behind the record setting temperatures observed in the same winter period of 2015/2016.

February itself was also the second warmest February on record, again, as measured in average land and sea surface temperatures, NOAA said. 


In the Arctic, the lower levels of sea ice cover, known as sea ice extent, continues a longer-term trend of losses over the last several decades. 

Average Arctic sea ice extent during February totaled more than 450,000 square miles — the smallest since record-keeping began in 1979, and 7.6 percent below the 1981-2010 average. Notably this is 15,400 miles less than the previous record, set in 2016, according to the National Snow and Ice Data Center.

Arctic: ban oil drilling and mitigate tensions, urge MEPs





Climate change is bringing new environmental and security challenges in the Arctic, as the melting ice cap opens up new navigation and fishing routes, and competition for its natural resources heats up, say MEPs in a resolution voted on Thursday. They call for measures to protect the vulnerable Arctic ecosystem, ban oil drilling there and keep it a low-tension and cooperation area. 


“The Arctic region is very sensitive and vulnerable. If we destroy this area by using the resources there unsustainably, we shall not only be destroying a unique region, but also accelerating climate change and polluting a source of clean water. The effects on global fish stocks would also be catastrophic“, said co-rapporteur Sirpa Pietikainen (EPP, FI).