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‘Gateway to hell’ in Siberia ‘rapidly expanding’, experts warn as landmark can be seen from space

The crater’s ever-increasing size will pose problems for the surrounding habitat, scientists say

The giant “Gateway to Hell” crater in Siberia which can be seen from space is “rapidly expanding” due to climate change.

Scientists say that the 200-acre wide, nearly 300-foot-deep Batagaika crater’s increasing size is posing problems for the surrounding habitat.

In a recent study, it was reported that the ginormous crater has grown by 35 million cubic feet (around one million cubic meters every year).

It was first formed in the 1960s, when melting “permafrost” soil within the Siberian tundra began to release tons of previously frozen methane, a powerful greenhouse gas, into the planet’s atmosphere.

The crater was first detected on images taken in 1991 and has been growing in size ever since, as global warming causes permafrost to melt.

Glaciologist Alexander Kizyakov, the study’s lead author, said that it “demonstrates how quickly permafrost degradation occurs”.

The research, published in Geomorphology, discovered that the rate of methane and other carbon gasses released as the crater grows has reached 5,000 tons per year.

Kizyakov said that soon enough, the “Gateway to Hell” will leak all of its remaining greenhouses gases.

A recent computer-generated image shows its current size

He said that there is little room for it to grow deeper as the permafrost melt has almost reached the bedrock at the bottom.

This will likely cause problems for the nearby Batagay River, as it will increase erosion on the riverbank.

However, Kizyakov, who teaches at Lomonosov Moscow State University in Russia, said that the melt could continue but sideways.

“Expansion along the margins and upslope is expected,” Kizyakov told Atlas Obscura.

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