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Scientists make alarming discovery after hearing bubbling sounds from deep within Arctic ice: 'We decided to have a look'

"The drillers heard a bubbling sound coming from the well."

"The drillers heard a bubbling sound coming from the well."

Photo Credit: iStock

Researchers in Norway have discovered that ancient diseases aren't the only things lurking beneath permafrost, raising concerns that the overheating of our planet could accelerate if a powerful, heat-trapping gas is unleashed. 

What's happening?

As detailed by ScienceAlert, "substantial" amounts of methane gas were found in half of the exploration wells drilled by dirty energy companies in Svalbard, the archipelago with the northernmost town in the world. 

"The drillers heard a bubbling sound coming from the well, so we decided to have a look, armed with rudimentary alarms designed for detecting explosive levels of methane — which were immediately triggered when we held them over the wellbore," Thomas Birchall, the lead author of the study, told ScienceAlert.  

The research was published in the peer-reviewed journal Frontiers.

Why is this concerning? 

While scientists are unsure just how much methane is leaking from the permafrost, they believe that gas could significantly set back efforts to limit rising global temperatures to 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit above preindustrial levels if it escapes from the protective frozen barrier, per ScienceAlert.

Currently, carbon dioxide is the most plentiful heat-trapping gas, accounting for 65% of planet-warming pollution, according to the Environmental Protection Agency

Even though methane concentrations are much lower at 16%, a study by the United States Geological Survey found that the gas — which is 28 times stronger than CO2 — is "contributing about 25% to warming temperatures." 

Rising global temperatures have been linked to food supply shortages, the spread of disease, and extreme weather events, among other things, and have caused the permafrost to weaken.   

What can be done to protect the permafrost? 

The use of dirty energy, such as gas, oil, and coal, is the main reason temperatures have been skyrocketing in modern times, and powering your home with solar is one type of clean-energy investment that will pay dividends for both the planet and your wallet. 

While community solar programs can help mitigate the upfront cost and hassle of installing the panels, there are lower-fuss ways to assist if a transition like that isn't immediately possible.

Switching to LED bulbs, for example, can cut roughly 5,000 pounds of carbon air pollution over 10 years.

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