An international team of scientists has found hundreds of methane gas plumes in the depths of the Arctic Ocean.
German and English researchers used sonar to detect 250 columns of bubbles pushing out of the seabed of West Spitsbergen and then sampled the water in those areas, finding that the gas was predominantly methane. The discovery indicates there may be more of the gas being released and from deeper areas of the Arctic seabed than expected. In a recent paper in Geophysical Research Letters, the researchers attribute the seeps to the warming of northward-flowing currents, making this the first time increased methane leaks can be attributed to global warming. Icelike methane hydrate is trapped in the seabed, but the gas is released as the sediment thaws. The US Department of Energy says there is more potential energy in methane trapped on the seafloor than in all the world’s other fossil fuels combined. The majority of methane currently released from ocean seabeds is dissolved in the seawater before it reaches the atmosphere, preventing the greenhouse gas from reaching the atmosphere, but intensifying the water’s acidification.