(ORDO NEWS) — The release of methane to the environment and human activities are a major problem in the accumulation of greenhouse gases. Methane is many times more efficient at capturing heat than carbon dioxide, and scientists say the moon plays a key role in how much gas enters the atmosphere.
It’s all about the tidal effect that the gravitational pull of the Moon has on the Earth – a phenomenon that we can measure. By placing a piezometer in the Arctic Ocean for four days, the researchers were able to measure changes in temperature and pressure over time.
They found that the presence of methane gas near the seabed increases with the ebb and flow, which is an important contributor to the methane release and contributing to the climate change we are seeing now.
“We have noticed that gas accumulations that are in sediments within a meter of the seabed are vulnerable to even minor pressure changes in the water column,” says geophysicist Andrea Plaza-Faverola of the University of Tromsø – the Arctic University of Norway.
“Low tide means less hydrostatic pressure and higher methane emissions. High tide means high pressure and less blowout.”
Methane leaks in the Arctic Ocean have been occurring for thousands of years and were caused by factors such as seismic and volcanic activity, but there are also mechanisms that cause this leak and affect its rate.
This is where the moon comes in and its impact. The researchers say tides can be used as a way to predict the amount of gas emitted from the Arctic Ocean from day to day, even with variations in tide heights of less than 1 meter.
One of the findings is that seabed gas emissions are more common than conventional hydroacoustic surveys indicate, and we may have underestimated how much gas is currently being released in the Arctic.
“The moon causes tidal forces, the tides cause pressure changes and bottom currents, which in turn shape the seabed and affect submarine methane emissions.”
While tidal changes have been associated with methane emissions in the past, the geographic location of this study and the fluctuations observed even with small pressure drops make it an important new data point for modeling future climate change.
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