One big worry in the scientific community is that the arctic permafrost starts to thaw out, and in the process it releases massive quantities of methane. Methane is a greenhouse gas far more powerful than carbon dioxide, so it doesn’t take much methane to have an effect on global warming.
Scientists have found evidence that frozen methane deposits in the Arctic Ocean – known as the “sleeping giants of the carbon cycle” – have started to be released over a large area of the continental slope off the East Siberian coast, the Guardian can reveal. High levels of the potent greenhouse gas have been detected down to a depth of 350 metres in the Laptev Sea near Russia, prompting concern among researchers that a new climate feedback loop may have been triggered that could accelerate the pace of global heating.
The problem is that once this cycle gets started, it can create a positive feedback loop. The methane that is being released causes heating that causes more methane to be released and so on, vastly accelerating the pace of global warming.
There is also methane leaking out under Antarctica for the first time:
Scientists have, for the first time, discovered an active leak of methane gas from the sea floor in Antarctica. It is a process that’s likely to accelerate the process of global heating.
It is the same kind of problem.
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