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Antarctica could hold large volumes of methane, warn British scientists

Wednesday, September 5th 2012 - 00:44 UTC
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Study leader Jemima Wadham: ‘more than ten times the size of carbon stocks in northern permafrost regions’. Study leader Jemima Wadham: ‘more than ten times the size of carbon stocks in northern permafrost regions’.

Large volumes of methane - a potent greenhouse gas - could be locked beneath the ice-covered regions of Antarctica, according to a new study. Methane could be released into the atmosphere as ice retreats, contributing to climate warming.

The findings indicate that ancient deposits of organic matter may have been converted to methane by microbes under the ice. An international team reported the results in Nature journal.

Study leader Jemima Wadham, from Bristol University, said: “This is an immense amount of organic carbon, more than ten times the size of carbon stocks in northern permafrost regions.

”Our laboratory experiments tell us that these sub-ice environments are also biologically active, meaning that this organic carbon is probably being metabolised to carbon dioxide and methane gas by microbes.“

They estimate that there could be hundreds of billions of tons of carbon stored in methane reservoirs under the ice sheet.

The authors say that the predicted shallow depth of these methane reserves means that they could be destabilised by climate change, and might act as a positive feedback on global warming.

Co-author Dr Sandra Arndt, also from the University of Bristol, said: ”It's not surprising that you might expect to find significant amounts of methane hydrate trapped beneath the ice sheet.

“Just like in sub-seafloor sediments, it is cold and pressures that are high, which are important conditions for the methane hydrate formation.”

In their Nature paper, the authors comment that their “findings suggest that the Antarctic Ice Sheet may be a neglected but important component of the global methane budget”.
 

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  • vestias

    Com o aumento da temperatura o mundo vai ter de enfrentar varios problemas segundo falam os cientistas mas o mundo não pode baixar os braços

    Sep 05th, 2012 - 09:49 am 0
  • Santa Fe

    shhhhh Dont tell the RGS they will want to claim it
    They have a monopoly on hot air already with Kretina

    Sep 05th, 2012 - 11:41 am 0
  • Doveoverdover

    With increasing temperature the world will have to face several problems according to scientists but the world cannot ease up.
    Google Translate

    Meanwhile, back in the world of fueling that momentum, is there a potential market for methane hydrate I wonder? Well, what about this as a good place to start:

    http://www.netl.doe.gov/technologies/oil-gas/publications/Hydrates/2011Reports/MH_Primer2011.pdf

    I'm thinking of starting a little company, HQ'd in a farmhouse somewhere in Wiltshire or perhaps even Kent, to float on AIM and snaffle up the exploration rights on this one. Just a few minor issues of Antarctic sovereignty to deal with but I'm open to offers from Argentinian and Chilean potential partners as risk mitigation measure. Socialists, Brits and Falkland Islanders need not apply - you will be able to subscribe to the “Antarctic Methane Bubble” when we float.

    Sep 05th, 2012 - 11:58 am 0
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