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Posted Thu Mar 4 2010: from National Geographic:
Arctic Sea Belching Tons of Methane
Arctic seabeds are belching massive quantities of methane, according to a new study that says ocean permafrost is a huge and largely overlooked source of the powerful greenhouse gas, which has been linked to global warming. Previous research had found methane bubbling out of melting permafrost -- frozen soil -- in Arctic wetlands and lakes. But the permafrost lining the deep, cold seas was thought to be staying frozen solid, holding in untold amounts of trapped methane. "It's not the case anymore," said study leader Natalia Shakhova, a biogeochemist at the University of Fairbanks, Alaska. "The permafrost is actually failing in its ability to preserve this leakage."... The scientists found that much of the seawater above the shelf is laden with methane, which in turn is being released into the atmosphere. What's more, the team found that current atmospheric methane levels in the Arctic are three times higher than those recorded across previous climate cycles going back 400,000 years. This phenomenon most likely isn't limited to the East Siberian Sea, the researchers note. If permafrost is melting in this part of the Arctic, all shallow areas along the Arctic shelf should be similarly affected.
[Read more stories about: ocean warming, arctic meltdown, methane release, death spiral]

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Methane: the organic alternative to CO2!

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