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At some locations, methane concentrations reached 100 times background levels. These anomalies have been seen in the East Siberian Sea and the Laptev Sea, covering several tens of thousands of square kilometres, amounting to millions of tons of methane, said Dr Gustafsson. "This may be of the same magnitude as presently estimated from the global ocean," he said. "Nobody knows how many more such areas exist on the extensive East Siberian continental shelves.
Fire in Ice: What Are Gas Hydrates?
In 1810, Sir Humphrey Davy discovered a new class of materials, known as gas hydrates or clathrates. These ice-like structures form when high pressure and low temperature trap light natural gases within rigid cages of water molecules. The trapped gas can be methane (hence “methane hydrate”), butane, propane, ethane or a number of other light natural gases.
The hydrates containing hydrocarbons, such as methane, are truly “fire in ice.” If you light a methane hydrate deposit, it will burn like an oil lantern wick.
Gas hydrates occur in permafrost regions as well as beneath and just above the seafloor on the slopes flanking every continent, where the pressure is high and the temperature is low. Both industry and the academic community are studying the substances to better understand their past, present and future roles for climate, energy and development.
Some researchers speculate that blowouts of marine gas hydrates in the geologic past may have released enough methane, a potent greenhouse gas, to drive up global temperatures. Additionally, some researchers hypothesize that when hydrates broke away from steep slopes on the seafloor, they could have triggered massive seafloor avalanches and even tsunamis. Other scientists are investigating the potential of gas hydrates, onshore and offshore, as a future energy source.
Originally posted by ...and justice for some
So just a few degrees warm and the Earth could be sent spiraling out of control?
If global temperatures continue to rise, massive amounts of methane gas could be released from the 10,000 gigaton reserves of frozen methane that are currently locked in the world’s deep oceans and permafrost. Passing this climate tipping point would result in global warming that would be far worse and more rapid than scientists’ current estimates. … The study’s lead author suggests it could happen fast — not over thousands or millions of years, but possibly within a century.
Kennedy’s predictions on the potential timescale of the methane release are the most alarming to date; other researchers have predicted that it would take thousands of years for methane to be released from the oceans.