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Posted Sun May 8 2011: from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory:
As Climate Changes, Methane Trapped Under Arctic Ocean Could Bubble to the Surface
A two-part study by scientists from the U.S Department of Energy's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) and Los Alamos National Laboratory paints one of the most detailed pictures yet of how climate change could impact millions of tons of methane frozen in sediment beneath the Arctic Ocean. Methane is one of the most potent greenhouse gases. The initial phase of the project found that buried deposits of clathrates, which are icy crystalline compounds that encase methane molecules, will break apart as the global temperature increases and the oceans warm. In the second phase, the scientists found that methane would then seep into the Arctic Ocean and gradually overwhelm the marine environment's ability to break down the gas. Supplies of oxygen, nutrients, and trace metals required by methane-eating microbes would dwindle year-by-year as more methane enters the water. After three decades of methane release, much of the methane may bubble to the surface -- where it has the potential to accelerate climate change.... Their research counters the view held by some scientists that the oceans will always consume big plumes of methane. Indeed, small-scale methane releases have been seeping from seafloor vents for eons. In these cases, hungry ocean-dwelling microbes quickly oxidize most of the methane before it escapes into the atmosphere. But this cycle will be disrupted if the Arctic region's vast stores of clathrates break apart and unleash a rash of new methane seeps, the scientists found. "Large-scale methane releases have a greater impact than we anticipated," adds Reagan. "When this happens, microbes cannot consume all of the methane because there isn't enough oxygen to fuel them."
[Read more stories about: faster than expected, feedback loop, methane release, arctic meltdown, holyshit]

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How dare the physics and biology of the Arctic waters impede our continuous growth and prosperity!

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