Global Warming

Warming oceans are releasing methane

Warming oceans are creating a whole host of problems. From driving schools of fish closer to shores, to disrupting fragile ecosystems, the gradual increase in water temperatures could spell trouble for Planet Earth. Now, long-frozen methane is bubbling up from the ocean depths, adding more greenhouse gases (GHG) to the atmosphere.

The most recent discovery of so-called methane plumes is off the coast in the Pacific Northwest. This is no small matter as methane is a much more powerful greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide and could potentially accelerate global warming.

Besides the West Coast, research last year found a huge increase in methane plumes off the East Coast. Given that methane is a very powerful greenhouse gas, this could spell trouble for a planet many already believe is warming.

Methane is 23 times more powerful of a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide.

Methane is suspected for previously causing big and often sudden swings in the Earth’s climate. Much of the methane on Earth is actually trapped, frozen in the ocean, but as oceans warm up, this powerful greenhouse gas could be released. Global warming could thus accelerate.

Essentially, the methane at the bottom of the ocean mixes with sediments and forms a substance called methane hydrate. Methane is able to exist in this form due to high water pressure levels and the cold-temperatures.

A sonar image shows a bubble plume rising from the seafloor off the coast of Washington state.

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