(ORDO NEWS) — Scientists have discovered for the first time an active leak of methane from the seabed in Antarctica. It is a process that can accelerate the global warming process.
The results were published Tuesday in the peer-reviewed journal the Proceedings of the Royal Society Bed and.
Methane is a powerful greenhouse gas that accelerates climate change and warms the planet much more than carbon dioxide.
The risk of methane leaking from under the ice has long worried scientists, who say that some microorganisms may consume it before it is released into the atmosphere.
But new research results are dashing hopes for the effectiveness of this process in Antarctica.
The report says the methane leak was first detected in 2011 and it took microorganisms five years to partially filter out the gas.
The researchers found that methane is still abundant despite the presence of microorganisms.
Dr. Andrew Thurber, the Oregon State University oceanographer who led the study, told The Guardian , “This is not good news. It took more than five years for the microbes to begin to show up, and even then the amount of methane was growing rapidly.”
Thurber said the first microbes to emerge in the area were of unexpected origins, and that “it may take five to ten years for the community to fully adapt and start consuming methane.”
Huge amounts of methane are stored under sea ice. The researchers noted that “Antarctica is estimated to contain up to a quarter of Earth’s marine methane.”
Scientists have long warned of the impact on the planet of methane leaks caused by ice melting as global temperatures rise.
In 2018, NASA warned that melting ice in the Arctic could release gases like methane, further accelerating global warming.
The release of methane from beneath the ice is also considered one of the tipping points in climate change, where the effects of rising temperatures cannot be stopped or reversed.
But so far no active methane leak has been recorded in Antarctica.
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