Researchers have just achieved something groundbreaking. They have managed to uncover a currently active leak of methane gas originating from Antarctica’s sea floor. This is a process with dangerous ramifications, as it could accelerate the process of global heating with a voracious speed. The study was even published in Proceedings of the Royal Society B, a peer-reviewed scientific journal last Tuesday.
The Science Behind Methane
Methane is a strong greenhouse gas that has been proved to accelerate climate change, warming the planet a lot more than carbon dioxide warms it. Of course, there is a risk regarding this leak. It could get out from under the ice and enter our atmosphere. Some scientists, however, believe that that can be stopped. Theoretically, some microorganisms can aid in the consumption of methane while it is in the water. Unfortunately, some new findings seem to decrease the hope of this working, at least in Antarctica.
In the report, it was mentioned that the first methane leak was uncovered almost a decade ago, in 2011. After that, it took about five years for the microorganisms to filter all the gas that developed at the site. This time, however, researchers reached the conclusion that methane still escapes from under the ice cap, despite the definitive presence of microorganisms.
This is very bad news. More than five years after waiting for the microorganisms to have a significant presence on site, it would seem that their presence does not have the impact that the researchers were hoping it to have, since methane is still escaping from the sea floor. All of this information was made public in a recent interview given to The Guardian by Dr. Andrew Thurber, an oceanographer affiliated with the Oregon State University. According to him, before a community of microbes that can efficiently consume methane develops, we might have to wait 10 more years.