A GIANT hole has punctured the ground in Siberia and is thought to be the result of a methane gas explosion caused by melting permafrost.
The gaping void is around 165 foot (50 metres) deep and could be linked to climate change.
Giant new 50-metre deep ‘crater’ opens up in Arctic tundra. Blocks of soil and ice thrown hundreds of metres from epicentre of the funnel at the Yamal peninsula https://t.co/2fTA8GZRS4 #YamalFunnels2020 pic.twitter.com/t5CJRVwuRS
Permafrost is a layer of ground that has remained frozen for years.
With increasing global temperatures, more of it is melting.
According to The Siberian Times, a TV film crew spotted the new Siberian crater when flying over the Yamal peninsula.
Scientists were sent to investigate and found blocks of rock and ice had been thrown hundreds of miles from the epicentre of the hole.
Evgeny Chuvilin, lead research scientist at the Skoltech Center for Hydrocarbon Recovery, told us: “The process that leaves behind these craters is sometimes called cryovolcanism, and it is very poorly studied.
“So far, these craters have mostly been appearing in the remote Arctic, but if that changes, they can pose a threat to human activity.
“That is why we need to study the craters to figure out how and why gases accumulate in the permafrost, including in its upper horizons and what can make the situation explosive.
“No one knows for sure when the hole was formed or whether climate change can definitely be blamed.”
The giant hole is the 17th large crater to appear in the region over the past six years.
Previous mega-holes have sparked oddball conspiracy theories about everything from UFO launch sites to Kremlin nuke tests.
The role of global warming has come into question because a very similar event happened in the same area back in 2014.
Chuvilin told us: “There is some evidence that climate change might be contributing to cryovolcanism (the process that forms the craters), but it is inconclusive, and this issue needs further research.
“Potentially, warming in the top layer of permafrost can contribute to these explosions, and this might have been the case for the 2014 Yamal Crater.
“The link is much less clear for other craters, and, like I said, this definitely needs further research.”
A different hole was also spotted in the Yamal peninsula in northwest Russia and was linked to melting permafrost causing methane to build up under the surface and a subsequent explosion.
Permafrost melt can cause gases, like methane, that were frozen in the soil to suddenly release.
This can cause mounds in the ground to form and even explosions.
The Arctic is currently seeing a rapid loss of permafrost so some experts are linking holes in Siberia’s landscape to this.
However, there are still very few studies investigating how climate change could be causing land to collapse.
Methane is 84 times more potent than Carbon Dioxide as a greenhouse gas so the melting permafrost could cause more harm than a few deep craters.
Researcher Evgeny Chuvilin, who studies permafrost melt at the Skolkovo Institute of Science and Technology, previously explained: “The frost heaving that precedes a crater usually happens quite quickly, over one to two years, and this sudden growth is hard to observe, so almost all craters were discovered after everything had already happened.
“We have only piecemeal evidence from locals who say they heard a noise or saw smoke and flames.
“Plus, a crater turns into a lake in another one to two years, which is then hard to distinguish from common thermokarst lakes in the Arctic.”
When asked whether the crater was dangerous Chuvilin told us: “As far as we can tell, this crater poses no immediate danger to people, although they pose a threat to animals, as they can fall into them.
“In theory, craters like this can be dangerous even for sparsely populated areas of the Arctic.”
In other news, ice sheets are melting at ‘worst-case scenario speeds’ as experts warn of half-a-metre sea level rise in our lifetimes.
Scientists previously warned that sea levels could rise by up to four feet by 2100 and 16 feet by 2300.
And, a Nasa astronauts captured pictures of the recent devastating California wildfires from space.
What do you think of the giant Arctic hole? Let us know in the comments…
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