Strange circles have once again appeared in the frozen surface of Lake Baikal in Siberia, as spotted by astronauts aboard the International Space Station this April. News reports described the ice rings as a puzzling phenomenon.
But experts say they can explain the mystery, and it’s not aliens — methane gas rising from the lake floor represents the likely culprit.
Methane emissions can create a rising mass of warm water that begins swirling in a circular pattern because of the Coriolis force, or the phenomenon caused by the Earth’s rotation that also helps create cyclones.
“Once the water mass reaches the underside of the ice on the surface of the lake, the warm water melts the ice in a ring shape,” said Marianne Moore, a marine ecologist at Wellesley College in Massachusetts who has spent much time studying Lake Baikal with Russian researchers. The lake is the largest by volume and deepest fresh water lake on Earth.
The latest ring patterns included a circle of thin ice with a diameter of 2.7 miles 4.4 km, although the circular patch was becoming a hole of open water. Astronauts spotted similar ice circles in both 1985 and 1994, and satellites have also made sightings over the past years.
This phenomenon is nothing new to the Russian government, which has documented circle sightings on an official Ministry of Natural Resources Web site.
“Interestingly, the government is also warning people that abnormally high emissions of methane may occur in these areas in the summer and fall, posing risks for ships,” Moore told LiveScience.
– via Live Science
Methane is more frightening than aliens.
At the ocean floor lies a sleeping monster, one that millions of years ago devastated the Earth, causing a mass-extinction, and today could be released again. It is silent, invisible and deadly, and contains double the energy of the entire world’s fossil fuels combined. It is the frozen methane reserves at the bottom of the sea; capable of causing massive rises in global temperatures and igniting the atmosphere.
Has frozen methane ever been released before?
55 million years ago, 20% of the world’s frozen methane reserves melted. This sparked cataclysmic changes in the atmosphere: global temperatures rose by 13 degrees Fahrenheit, melting the ice cps and forcing many species to extinction. 80% of all deep-sea creatures became extinct, and there were severe consequences for land animals. If vast amounts of methane were released, the highly explosive gas would be ignited by lightning, scorching huge area in a fiery hell-on-earth.