Saturday, September 27, 2008

Study says methane from ocean floor is 'time bomb' (Canada): New research suggests there may be a methane "time bomb" on the ocean floor threatening to catastrophically warm the climate and Canadian scientists wonder what effects this may have on people's efforts to combat global warming. Preliminary findings from an international study suggest that significant amounts of methane gas -- a much more powerful greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide -- are being released from the ocean floor off Russia's north coast.

Permafrost on the ocean floor is currently holding the methane back. But the researchers, working from a ship off the Russian coast, say that the permafrost appears to be melting, causing methane gas to bubble to the surface. Marianne Douglas, the head of the Canadian Circumpolar Institute at the University of Alberta, said this latest research raises some important questions. "It's a time bomb because, as the permafrost thaws -- and we don't know how fast it will thaw -- it's going to slowly and maybe catastrophically at some point, release all that methane that's trapped underneath as a solid," she said….

Locations of known and inferred gas hydrate (methane clathrate) occurrences in oceanic sediments of outer continental margins and permafrost regions. US Geological Survey

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