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Oh Floe! Melting Ice Releases Millions of Tons of Methane Gas

Scientists working on greenhouse gas emissions have discovered a new source of gas which is potentially 20 times more potent than carbon dioxide: Methane. Now don't start blaming the poor cows, this time it's not their stink. It's worse. Methane is currently being released into the atmosphere from beneath the Arctic seabed all because of the eroding ice cap.

These underground pockets of methane are believed to be, in the past, the cause of rapid increases in global temperatures, fierce climate fluctuations, and extinctions on a mass scale. Scientists working off of Russian’s northern coast have witnessed concentrations of methane, up to 100 times the normal level, bubbling up to the surface. To see what scientists make of the phenomenon,


This intense resurfacing of methane is called a “methane chimney” which used to be kept submerged by permafrost — but once the permafrost began to melt away, more and more of these chimneys began to appear spilling methane into the atmosphere. Scientists now think that the amount of methane locked beneath the Arctic is more than the total amount of carbon stored in global coal reserves — and the Arctic is currently the fastest heating region on Earth.

Dr. Orjan Gustafsson one of the leaders of the expedition described the methane release: “Yesterday, for the first time, we documented a field where the release was so intense that the methane did not have time to dissolve into the seawater but was rising as methane bubbles to the sea surface.” One more tidbit to mull over? The lack of ice on the Arctic pole, which used to reflect the heat from the sun is now open ocean, which absorbs the heat causing an even greater temperature increase. I think I just felt a chill.


Join The Conversation
CaterpillarGirl CaterpillarGirl 8 years
my hubby tried to light some methane on fire once, on a bet, didnt turn out well.
UnDave35 UnDave35 8 years
I guesss my question would be: Is the lack of snowfall just a shift in the westher pattern? Is this a one time event, or is it going to become the norm?
Twinkle1 Twinkle1 8 years
We've been feeling the affects of global warming here in Finland. We only live a few hours south of the Arctic Circle and got very little snow last winter. Our summers have gotten hotter too. But I guess since it's part of God's plan, we should just roll with it. :oy:
UnDave35 UnDave35 8 years
I have yet to see any type of warming. We are expecting the worst snowfall in 40 years. Last year was just as bad. I wonder if they have scrubbers to remove methane out of the air. I saw on the Discovery Channel a couple days ago that a machine had been created that could remove 51 pounds of CO2 in a day. That's the equivalent of 4000 cars driving at 55 for 4 hours. I definitely see a market for that in LA
suziryder suziryder 8 years
This is very, very sad.
Jude-C Jude-C 8 years
"The lack of ice on the Arctic pole, which used to reflect the heat from the sun is now open ocean, which absorbs the heat causing an even greater temperature increase. I think I just felt a chill." I think I just broke a sweat, man.
stephley stephley 8 years
I've seen video of scientists capturing the methane in what looked like giant plastic bags - it is frightening.
sexylibrarian sexylibrarian 8 years
That's right go ahead and deny the severity of this with passing it off as just the "environment going through a massive change!"
ilanac13 ilanac13 8 years
wow - see this is really shedding light on how the environment is going through a massive change. i think that it's a shame to think that regardless of what we try to do to minimize gasses in the atmosphere that are caused by man - things like this are going to happen. we know that we can't change the ice caps from melting and knowing that these 'chimneys' are out there - it's just a scary thing to think that it's even more massive than we knew. i wonder if this is what caused the melting of the ice caps in history.
amybdk amybdk 8 years
Ah... what a great way to start the day! Doom and despair...
Mina-Xue Mina-Xue 8 years
For something that isn't so real and blown of proportion, I sure am nervous about the whole thing. Sure, the Earth goes through cycles.. but, uh, we're kinda not helping to slow the process down...
terryt18 terryt18 8 years
I'm sure scared.
rabidmoon rabidmoon 8 years
The same thing is happening due to the ice melt in Siberia. The whole thing is just accelerating the process to a really scary degree. :(
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