Methane causing GHG Concerns again
Recent research, published in “Proceedings of the Royal Society B”, reports the discovery of a methane seepage at a 10-meter deep site (McMurdo Sound, Antarctica).
Large amounts of methane may be stored under the Antarctic seabed. Gas could start to leak as the climate crisis warms the oceans, a prospect researchers say is “incredibly concerning.”
“The delay [in methane consumption by microbes] is the most significant discovery, ”said Andrew Thurber of Oregon State University in the United States, who led the research. “This is not good news. It took over five years for the microbes to start appearing and even then there was still methane rapidly leaking from the seabed.
The release of methane from frozen underwater reserves or regions of permafrost is one of the main tipping points of concern to scientists, which occurs when a particular impact of global warming becomes unstoppable.
“The methane cycle is absolutely something that we as a society have to be concerned about,” Thurber said. We know that methane is at least 24 times as damaging to the climate as CO2.
“We ran into the methane seep at a site that has been submerged since the 1960s and it had just come on,” Thurber said. There were no methane bubbles, “Most of the methane in a lot of seeps actually comes out in what we call diffuse flows. So it is just dissolved in water.
The source of the methane is likely deposits of decaying algae buried in the sediment and probably several thousand years old. In most parts of the oceans, the methane that escapes from the seabed is consumed by microbes in the sediment or the water column above. But the slow growth of microbes at the research site, and its shallow depth, means that methane is almost certain to leak into the atmosphere.