The evidence of Global Warming and its associated climate changes are here for sure and the need for cutting down the release of green house gasses has never been so urgent than today. As the delegates from more than 140 countries across the globe are meeting for the climate talks in Lima, new information about the ill effects of global warming is being revealed.
Methane or CH4 is a component of many things and it is produced in the intestine of herbivorous animals as well as man. It is methane which gives flatulence its characteristic smell. It also is one of the most potent green house gases and its release into the atmosphere could aggravate the changing climate.
Researchers from the University of Washington have unearthed a possibility of millions of tons of Methane into the atmosphere due to the melting of carbon deposits as the temperatures of the water in the intermediate depths of Pacific Ocean rise
Evan Solomon, a University of Washington assistant professor of oceanography said, “Methane hydrates are a very large and fragile reservoir of carbon that can be released if temperatures change. I was skeptical at first, but when we looked at the amounts, it’s significant.”
The waters of the Pacific Ocean at depths of 500 meters are warming and this phenomenon is suspected to be happening in the Sea of Okhotsk, located between Russia and Japan. The surface water becomes dense and spreads before sinking all through the Pacific.
The study estimates that 4 million metric tons of methane has been released from hydrate decomposition off the coast of Washington in the period between 1970 to 2013.Proximity to the tectonic activities makes the Northwest Pacific a hot bed of methane hydrates.
Similair studies conducted earlier reveals that the Sea of Okhotsk has become warmer in the past 50 years. The warm waters from the Sea of Okhotsk take 10 to 20 years to cross the Pacific.
The melting of the Methane Hydrates is much akin to the pattern in which snow lines move over land as the temperatures rise. In the oceans the frozen methane hydrates retreats into colder, deeper waters.
Scientists do not know what will happen to Methane when it will be released from the hydrates. Theory is that the methane will be used by the bacteria on the ocean floor or in the water itself and will make the water more acidic and less oxygenated. This could have catastrophic effects on the oceans ecosystem.