The Beacon

Elly's Hot Topics: the Methane Menace

You probably know methane as the stinky greenhouse gas. It's potent, long-lived, and is released from places like agricultural lands and wetlands. But a new study published in Nature discusses how the gas may also be released from destabilized clathrates, or forms of methane that are stabilized beneath ice sheets.

Although the methane in clathrates presently lies dormant, scientists are worried that increasing temperatures due to climate change could destabilize them resulting in a massive release of methane into the atmosphere, which would significantly amplify global climate change.

It has been shown that at low latitudes, if one clathrate destabilizes in front of an ice sheet, others will soon follow in a chain reaction of destabilization because clathrates are in a temperature-pressure balance of only a few degrees.

Now that would really stink.

For more on climate change, check out http://www.oceana.org/climate.


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