Second (not-so-mysterious) hole discovered in Siberia

It's just like the first one, except smaller

Published July 24, 2014 3:54PM (EDT)

    (Screenshot, Siberian Times)
(Screenshot, Siberian Times)

The mystery deepens! Or, to be more accurate, becomes less and less mysterious by the day. In any case, a second hole has been discovered in Siberia's Yamal Peninsula.

Discovered by reindeer herders, the hole lies about 30 kilometers (18.6 miles) away from the original, the Moscow Times reports. Local lawmaker Mikhail Lapsui reports that hole No. 2 is "exactly" like hole No. 1, except "much smaller." Like the first, it too appears to have been formed very recently.

"Inside the crater itself," Lapsui added, "snow can be seen."

Slate's Eric Holthaus has more on why, as theorized by several experts, the culprit behind Siberia's increasingly punctured permafrost is likely climate change:

As permafrost melt accelerates across the Arctic, there’s increasing concern that the natural release of methane and other greenhouse gases will also accelerate. Arctic permafrost in Alaska, Canada, and Russia holds more frozen carbon (in the form of both carbon dioxide and methane) than currently exists in the entire atmosphere. Methane is more than 20 times more potent at trapping heat in the atmosphere than carbon dioxide. Some studies have linked massive releases of methane to the biggest mass extinctions in Earth history.

Needless to say, it’s a region that scientists are following closely. It’s not likely that there will be a rapid, catastrophic release of methane from Arctic permafrost, but gradual methane farts (of the sort that this hole represents) could gradually escalate in the coming years due to global warming. The thing is, the Arctic is so remote that it’s difficult to get good numbers on how much methane is being released. For that reason, the Arctic continually surprises scientists, just like last week.

By Lindsay Abrams

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