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Source: Reuters Published: 2020/7/23 19:08:40
Scientists have discovered an active methane seep from Antarctica's sea bed that could shed light on the potent greenhouse gas trapped beneath the frozen continent.
Scientists believe there is a massive amount of methane stored below the ocean floor in Antarctica. The discovery, published on Wednesday in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B, marks the first time a natural seep has ever been detected in the continent.
There is no evidence that climate change is behind the Antarctic methane seep - good news to scientists concerned that global warming could cause permafrost to thaw and release methane long trapped within.
Marine ecologist Andrew Thurber noted that the microbes found near the Antarctic seep actually help keep methane out of the atmosphere by consuming the gas before it can rise through the water into the air.
Enormous amounts of methane hydrate have been found beneath Arctic permafrost, beneath Antarctic ice, and in sedimentary deposits along continental margins worldwide. In some parts of the world they are much closer to high-population areas than any natural gas field. These nearby deposits might allow countries that currently import natural gas to become self-sufficient. The current challenge is to inventory this resource and find safe, economical ways to develop it.
In 2008, the United States Geological Survey estimated the total undiscovered gas hydrate resource for the Alaska North Slope area. They estimate that the total undiscovered natural gas resource in the form of gas hydrate ranges between 25.2 and 157.8 trillion cubic feet. Because very few wells have been drilled through the gas hydrate accumulations, the estimates have a very high level of uncertainty. 
Methane Hydrate Hazards
Methane hydrates are sensitive sediments. They can rapidly dissociate with an increase in temperature or a decrease in pressure. This dissociation produces free methane and water. The conversion of a solid sediment into liquids and gases will create a loss of support and shear strength. These can cause submarine slumping, landslides, or subsidence that can damage production equipment and pipelines. 
Methane is a powerful greenhouse gas. Warmer Arctic temperatures could result in gradual melting of gas hydrates below permafrost. Warming oceans could cause gradual melting of gas hydrates near the sediment-water interface. Although many news reports have presented this as a potential catastrophe, USGS research has determined that gas hydrates are currently contributing to total atmospheric methane and that a catastrophic melting of unstable hydrate deposits is unlikely to send large amounts of methane into the atmosphere. [9