Methane-laden Arctic Ice on the Move

Let us understand what Greenhouse gases are! In layman’s terms, Greenhouse gases are those groups of compounds that are able to trap heat in the atmosphere. These are water vapor, carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide and methane. This trapped heat makes the surface warmer than it would have been in the absence of these compounds. Because of these compounds the heat gets trapped and cannot escape back into space which would actually cool the surface of the earth’s atmosphere.

Methane one of the trace gases plays a major role in what is known as the ‘Greenhouse effect’. There are six major sources of atmospheric methane namely anaerobic decomposition from wetlands, paddy fields, livestock production, biomass burning, and fossil fuels.

Researchers from the Alfred Wegener Institute found that on the seabed of the shallow coastal regions of Siberia, microorganism produce methane when they break down plant remains. This clathrate derived methane is slowly getting released through perforations in the seabed permafrost. Permafrost is rock, soil or sediment that is frozen for more than two consecutive years.

If this gas finds its way into water it will get trapped into the sea ice and can travel thousands of kilometers across the Arctic Ocean. The ice covered Arctic is a natural barrier between the trapped methane and its contact or release into atmosphere. However, it is a cause for concern as with raising temperatures the ice is breaking faster and it is being carried faster and as such the trapped methane in the ice can get transported to other regions.


By: Madhuchanda Saxena




Related News