Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Scientists discover massive methane 'time bomb' under the Arctic seabed

From the Daily Mail

Global warming could rapidly accelerate as millions of tons of methane escape from beneath the Arctic seabed, scientists warned today.

Huge deposits of the greenhouse gas - 20 times more potent than carbon dioxide - are rising to the surface as the Arctic region heats up, according to preliminary findings.

Researchers found massive stores of sub-sea methane in several areas across thousands of square miles of the Siberian continental shelf and observed the gas bubbling up from the sea floor through 'chimneys', according to newspaper reports.

The researchers believe escaping sub-sea methane is connected to rises in temperatures in the Arctic region.

One of the expedition leaders, Orjan Gustafsson, of Stockholm University in Sweden, said researchers had found 'an extensive area of intense methane release'.

'At earlier sites we had found elevated levels of dissolved methane. Yesterday, for the first time, we documented a field where the release was so intense that the methane did not have time to dissolve into the seawater but was rising as methane bubbles to the sea surface.

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