Oceans React to Global Warming with Methane Emissions

19.12.2011

Северный Ледовитый океан запузырился метаномThe Arctic Ocean reacts to global warming with methane emission, Russian scientists report. The greenhouse effect of this carbohydrate gas exceeds that of carbon dioxide by 20 times. Large amounts of methane were released from the bed of the East Siberian Sea. Gigantic bubbles filled with gas of up to 1000 meters in diameter rose above rather frequently. The scientists have observed over one hundred of them. And yes, they are being pessimistic about it. Natural gas release is the result of global warming, and the higher the average global temperature gets the more there will be methane in polar waters.

Norwegian scientists also observed methane emissions in the Arctic, however, only in the ocean zones not deeper than 360 meters. Now that lower layers of water are getting warmer, methane emission zones have vastly spread all around the Arctic Ocean.

East Siberian shelf might contain as much as eight million tons of methane. Experts estimate there is at least half a billion ton of methane in the Arctic as total, so far kept within the ocean bed by the permafrost. Global warming may result in release of the gas, which would lead to even more severe climate change on Earth.

Paleontologists discovered that such abundant methane emissions have already taken place on the planet. It happened about 15000 years ago, in the end of the last ice age.