Methane has a warming effect that is 25 times higher than carbon dioxide, despite the fact that it doesn’t last as long in the atmosphere. And now, scientists have discovered the world’s largest underwater pool of this extremely powerful greenhouse gas.
This newest discovery was found to stretch from the western coast of Guatemala to Hawaii, which would mean that the pool is around 5,000 miles long. This extremely vast pool was discovered by researchers from the Queen Mary University of London when they spend six weeks on board the RSS James Cook searching for the source of methane.
According to the researchers, this particular source had been caused by the bacteria found in the seabed that thrive on low-oxygen conditions that are held in this region of the seabed. As time passes, the methane expulsions caused by the bacteria begin to build up and can become frozen in place. However, as the water or ice begins to warm, the methane stores become unstable. In turn, they begin to leak.
In craters found off of the coast of Norway, it was discovered that when methane becomes unstable and begins to leak, it also explodes. These explosions cause the methane to turn into carbon dioxide, which has been found to be the driving force behind climate change and global warming.
One of the researchers, Dr. Felicity Shelley explained to the Independent that,
“If that was on the surface it would be coming out of the water pretty quickly.
“The way the ocean works it is unlikely to ever get to the surface.”
But, she also explained that oxygen-minimum zones, referred to as OMZs would “get thicken and closer to the surface as the world warms due to climate change.”
Human activities including dredging, trawling or installing oil platforms could stir the sea enough to move at least some of the methane to the surface. Furthermore, if global warming was to continue, which would push the methane release into the atmosphere, we could see an exponential increase in the pace of climate change. Due to this, the discovery of this deadly methane pool lying within the pacific ocean is anything but good news.
In order to learn more about methane gas found in the ocean, check out this video regarding methane gas in the Arctic portions of the ocean.