By: Ella Ford
Summary: Seeps of gas hydrates have found their way from the Atlantic Ocean floor to the atmosphere in regions such as the Gulf Stream and locations surrounding Antarctica and South Georgia Island. Gas hydrates, also commonly referred to as methane hydrates and "climate time bombs," are a type of clathrate, a substance in which a crystal-like cage-forming structure of a water molecule encloses a gas. The formation of gas hydrates requires specific geological, physical, and chemical conditions in the realms of water temperature and pressure. Although the best conditions for gas hydrate formation is in waters of low temperature and high pressure, warm water temperatures and very high amounts of pressure with great depths allow for these clathrates to form, as well. Primarily configuring in continental slopes of the ocean floor, gas hydrates begin to shape at depths of around 500 meters in the open ocean and when brought to the surface, the lumps of gas hydrates resemble ice surrounded by the ocean floor. Methane is suspected to be leaking into the atmosphere due to delays in the consumption of the gas by microbes within the ocean sediment or the water column above the ocean floor. Researchers studying the seafloor in Antarctica have found that microbes were late to arrive at "seep sites," causing the methane to escape into the atmosphere during the time they were not present. Leaks of gas hydrates are believed to be set off by climate change, as well, as the warming of ocean water causes the greenhouse gas formations to dissolve at a more rapid pace. If gas hydrates become unstable and unfreeze, enormous volumes of methane may pour into the ocean and eventually roam into the atmosphere, contributing further to ocean acidification and climate change.
Why we should care? I believe that humans should care about the release of methane from the ocean and sea floors because, as mentioned, the leakage of methane into the atmosphere contributes further to climate change and ocean acidification.
I found this particular topic interesting because I have seen photos of bubbles rising from the ocean or sea floor before, but I do not think that I had ever questioned where these bubbles came from and what was causing them to escape from the ocean and sea floors. I did not have previous knowledge concerning the release of methane from the sea and ocean floors, and I think that this article explained how the delay of the microbes arriving contributed to the escape of the methane into the atmosphere very well. I also enjoyed how the author included two scientist's perspectives and overall knowledge on this issue, Andrew Thurber and Jemma Wadham. The picture attached to this article of the seastars and microbes on the sea floor of a dive site in Antarctica drew me in, as well!
Science in Action.
Dr. Andrew Thurber in an Assistant Professor at Oregon State University.
Andrew Thurber is an Assistant Professor at Oregon State University with over 20 publications of research ranging from topics like food-webs and viral outbreaks in coral to ocean biogeochemistry and polar ecosystem dynamics. Thurber's profile mentions his research interest of the impacts cross-domain interactions have on ecosystem function in marine communities and the research he is currently embarking on. Presently, Thurber is aiming to pinpoint how what an animal eats impacts the biogeochemical processes of bacteria and archaea. His profile details the two specific habitats of Antarctic Spionid beds and deep-sea methane seeps that Thurber works in for his current research, as "each allow a different approach when studying these interactions." This scientist's research is relevant to my blog because he has contributed to and lead studies directly relating to the release of methane from the sea-floor, and his current research within deep-sea methane habitats revolves around my chosen topic, as well.
I think that this article is very interesting and we should definitely care about the release of methane from the ocean floor because as the article mentioned it affects humans as well. The release of methane messes with the climate as well as the ocean wildlife. If ocean acidification continues, certain organisms won't be able to survive changing the food chain in the ocean and also effecting our part of the food chain.
I thought that both the topic and the article were very interesting. It seems that methane being released from the ocean is something we should all care about. It not only affects the life in the ocean, but it also affects human life. The methane escaping from the ocean is affecting climate change and it should be something people are concerned about.
That's actually crazy! I didn't know that there was methane underwater too. It's kind of scary how much methane we are producing on and off the land. It's almost like we can't escape it at this point, looking at the numbers for both areas now. However, it does look cool underwater.
Its mind boggling when I hear that there is methane embedded in the sea floor too. Methane is a gas that it can warm up the seas and have a huge impact on the sea wild life. Too much of it, it can start to kill sea animals which also has an impact on the food chain diagram.
Very interesting article you have. I have never heard of methane gas embedded into the sea floor. I have always heard of methane gas on land because of our trash disposals. However, hearing about this is very sad because methane has the capability of warming up the seas. Too much gas being leaked, can start to have an impact on the sea wildlife since they are not living in their normal temperature zones. Ultimately if it gets worse, we can even see sea animals start to die which can also impact the food cycle.
I honestly had no idea that this was occurring or the ramifications of it! First of all, I did not know that there were microbes that are able to consume these gas hydrates. I find it astonishing that there are living creatures capable of consuming a crystallized form of methane! The amount of variety and diversity on our planet is something that is truly amazing to me. Everyday we find new species and different aspects of how our planet works and I absolutely love that. Another thing that I had no idea was that methane is able to leak form the sea floor and then into our atmosphere. I know methane is a serious form of greenhouse gas, but I did not know that it could come from the sea floor and then into our air. I applaud the researchers studying these microbes and the sea floor on the continent of Antarctica. These individuals must be the best of the best and truly dedicated to their work. I am so glad that I was able to read this blog post. I wonder how these scientists are able to study the sea floor. Are they taking a submarine down to the floor and then studying the sea floor? I have learned so much form it. I will now be able to share this information with friends and family and show them what I learned from you and your blog post. You wrote an excellent post and I am sure others were to learn from you!
I am glad to have read about this. I think you did very well on this pot. It was very interesting. I knew methane was coming up from the ocean but I had no idea how much. Also, to think that the ocean takes up most of our planet; that is a lot of gas being evaporated.
Very well written and interesting blog post! I had not heard of gas hydrates before. I am surprised because I have great interest in the ocean and want to study marine biology. The release of this methane really harms the environment and it feels like it would be difficult to prevent these gas hydrates because of how large and vast the ocean actually is. On top of that how deep the ocean floor can reach.
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