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Arctic Scientists Discover ‘Unexpected’ Evidence of Global Cooling

Methane is a far more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide. It traps almost 30 times as much heat in the atmosphere. In the ocean, methane bubbles up out of deep seeps where it’s often stored in ice-like, crystal lattices of water called hydrates.

When the hydrates melt because of changing temperatures and pressure, the methane is released and it percolates into the atmosphere.

The absorption of carbon dioxide by waters where the methane bubbles up surprised scientists who’ve been researching climate change for years.

“This is … totally unexpected,” says Brett Thornton, a geochemist at Stockholm University who was not involved in the research. These new findings challenge the popular assumption that methane seeps inevitably increase the global greenhouse gas burden.”

Pohlman and his researchers concluded that the physical forces pushing pushing the methane bubbles up also pump nutrient-rich cold waters from the seabed to the ocean surface, thus fertilizing phyloplankton blooms that soak up carbon dioxide.

this “fertilization effect” proved surprising as well. Pohlman and his team have published their study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

In fact, the study finds that in such zones, nearly 1900 times more CO2 is being absorbed than methane emitted. That’s a small but real consolation for those concerned about global warming, Pohlman says. In these limited zones, the atmospheric benefit from COsequestration is about 230 times greater than the warming effect from methane emissions.”

Now, the question is how these findings might apply to ocean seeps in other parts of the world. Pohlman doesn’t assume that the methane fertilizing effect will be the same everywhere. But the recent discovery certainly calls for more search to get a better understanding of the overall impact of methane hydrate reservoirs.

It would seem that in no way is climate science truly settled.

Via Science Magazine