Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Ocean Floor Reveals Clues To Global Warming

Date:
January 13, 2004
Source:
University Of Wyoming
Summary:
Scientists at the University of Wyoming may have discovered how massive amounts of carbon enter the atmosphere during periods of global warming.

Scientists at the University of Wyoming may have discovered how massive amounts of carbon enter the atmosphere during periods of global warming.

In a paper published Jan. 8 in the journal Nature, UW Department of Geology and Geophysics graduate student Matthew Hornbach and professors Demian Saffer and Steve Holbrook propose that the source of the carbon is methane gas found beneath methane hydrate -- an ice-like substance consisting of frozen methane and water. Methane hydrate exists in vast quantities beneath the ocean floor and is believed to constitute the largest reservoir of organic carbon on Earth.

Hornbach, Saffer and Holbrook contend that a rise in ocean temperatures can convert the methane hydrate into methane gas. "Since methane is a greenhouse gas, substantial amounts of it released from beneath these hydrate deposits can contribute to global warming," Hornbach says.

For decades climate researchers have recognized that global warming events correspond with rapid spikes in atmospheric methane concentrations. But the UW scientists' discovery of widespread critically pressurized volumes of methane gas below continental margins may answer the often debated question of where the methane comes from and how it gets into the atmosphere so quickly.

Critically pressurized volumes of methane gas exist below many methane hydrate deposits, resulting in a potentially unstable ocean floor that is highly sensitive to changing conditions. Hornbach says any change in temperature or pressure at these critically pressured gas sites can cause hydrate to convert into methane gas. The highly pressurized gas can cause faults in the ocean floor to break apart, allowing the gas to escape.

"It's like a cork in a champagne bottle," he says. "If you shake up the champagne and build up enough pressure, the champagne bubbles can pop the cork."

Because these critically pressured gas volumes are found worldwide, Hornbach says large quantities of methane could be released during a global warming event.

"It is well documented that bottom-water temperatures in the ocean increase by approximately 5 degrees centigrade during periods of global warming," Hornbach says. "Our study indicates that perhaps as much as 2,000 gigatons (a single gigaton is one billion tons) of methane gas might escape from the ocean into the atmosphere during such warming events."

The UW scientists also contend that massive underwater landslides -- the relics of which sprawl across continental margins -- may be the direct result of ocean floor failures caused by overpressured methane gas.

Much of the project's data was collected at Blake Ridge in the Atlantic Ocean, located 300 miles off the coast of North Carolina. The scientists used soundwave technology to image beneath the ocean floor, Hornbach says, and dove some three kilometers below the surface of the Atlantic to find samples of methane gas leaks.

The research was funded jointly by the U.S. National Science Foundation and the U.S Department of Energy.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University Of Wyoming. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University Of Wyoming. "Ocean Floor Reveals Clues To Global Warming." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 13 January 2004. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/01/040113080810.htm>.
University Of Wyoming. (2004, January 13). Ocean Floor Reveals Clues To Global Warming. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/01/040113080810.htm
University Of Wyoming. "Ocean Floor Reveals Clues To Global Warming." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/01/040113080810.htm (accessed October 21, 2014).

Share This



More Earth & Climate News

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Traditional Farming Methods Gaining Ground in Mali

Traditional Farming Methods Gaining Ground in Mali

AFP (Oct. 20, 2014) He is leading a one man agricultural revolution in Mali - Oumar Diatabe uses traditional farming methods to get the most out of his land and is teaching others across the country how to do the same. Duration: 01:44 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
How Detroit's Money Woes Led To U.N.-Condemned Water Cutoffs

How Detroit's Money Woes Led To U.N.-Condemned Water Cutoffs

Newsy (Oct. 20, 2014) The United Nations says water is a human right, but should it be free? Detroit has cut off water to residents who can't pay, and the U.N. isn't happy. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Hey, Doc! Sewage, Beer and Food Scraps Can Power Chevrolet’s Bi-Fuel Impala

Hey, Doc! Sewage, Beer and Food Scraps Can Power Chevrolet’s Bi-Fuel Impala

3BL Media (Oct. 20, 2014) Hey, Doc! Sewage, Beer and Food Scraps Can Power Chevrolet’s Bi-fuel Impala Video provided by 3BL
Powered by NewsLook.com
White Rhino's Death In Kenya Means Just 6 Are Left

White Rhino's Death In Kenya Means Just 6 Are Left

Newsy (Oct. 20, 2014) Suni, a rare northern white rhino at Ol Pejeta Conservancy, died Friday. This, as many media have pointed out, leaves people fearing extinction. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins