Pingos or hydrolaccoliths are mounds found in Siberia (and our Arctic) formed in permafrost when ice is forced upward and trapped. The base is usually round and the top may be fissured or cratered. Permafrost decay due to global warming has contributed to the development of pingos and when they break through the soil and the ice core melts, craters may form.
Russian scientists have found 7,000 similar alternative pingos in Siberia. The core of these alternates is methyl hydrate, a milky solid made when methane gas and water are mixed and then freeze. As the permafrost warms, methane gas, aka natural gas, is released, swelling upward. It is as though the tundra is developing an acne of methane-filled knobs. Geologists drill into pingos safely when their interior is water but if it is methane, it is dangerous.
The release of methane increases the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere and contributes to global climate change. The Arctic is warming faster than other parts of the world and the alternative pingos could be a result. The alternative pingos may have always been a feature of the landscape; they may be one more change caused by increasing world temperatures. Exploding pingos aren't something we want near Oil and Gas exploration and their development is random. At present, we can't predict where they will form.
This pingo-formed crater filled with water to become a lake. Some craters like this have been found with smooth sides, leading scientists to speculate that they were formed by explosions- possibly an alternative pingo blew up?
Methane gas is bubbling out of lakes all over Alaska, our Arctic and Siberia. It is adding to the greenhouse gas load of the atmosphere. Rising temperatures free the methane from the bottom of the lakes and then it contributes to global warming so that the millions of lakes in these region will release more and more methane.
It depresses me. I didn't start out to talk about climate change but I've come around to it. The Trump administration has gutted the EPA and yesterday started to roll back environmental protections the Obama administration introduced. Coal is back in production and oil exploration is freed from environmental constraints if the rollbacks actually go through. Pingos- one more indication of environmental degradation.
I've been writing on and off for years and this is where my more serious pieces will be.