For those of familiar enough with the science of climate change there is nothing more chilling than the thought of vast reserves of methane gas being released due to a warming climate.
The BBC reports on a recent study which indicates this is exactly what is happening:
Scientists have identified thousands of sites in the Arctic where methane that has been stored for many millennia is bubbling into the atmosphere.
The methane has been trapped by ice, but is able to escape as the ice melts.
Writing in the journal Nature Geoscience, the researchers say this ancient gas could have a significant impact on climate change.
Methane is the second most important greenhouse gas after CO2 and levels are rising after a few years of stability.
The study can be found here, but is behind the pay wall (titled ” Geologic methane seeps along boundaries of Arctic permafrost thaw and melting glaciers):
Methane, a potent greenhouse gas, accumulates in subsurface hydrocarbon reservoirs, such as coal beds and natural gas deposits. In the Arctic, permafrost and glaciers form a ‘cryosphere cap’ that traps gas leaking from these reservoirs, restricting flow to the atmosphere. With a carbon store of over 1,200 Pg, the Arctic geologic methane reservoir is large when compared with the global atmospheric methane pool of around 5 Pg. As such, the Earth’s climate is sensitive to the escape of even a small fraction of this methane.
Or course, scientists could be just making it up as part of their cunning plan to get more funding – charting ships and aircraft, lugging millions of dollars of equipment to remote locations in order to perpetrate a massive conspiracy.
So what exactly makes this news a little chilling?
For those not faint of heart, I suggest you take a look at the clathrate gun hypothesis.