A paper published today in the journal Nature by scientists from various universities around the world warns that the methane trapped under the Antarctic Ice Sheet is a bomb ready to burst into the atmosphere with devastating effects for the environment and climate change.
Their studies revealed that micro-organisms could have turned massive amounts of organic carbon into methane, which exists now in the form of a stable methane hydrate under the permafrost.
The melting ice sheet could warm the hydrate which would release the methane, fueling more global warming.
“We calculate that the sub-Antarctic hydrate inventory could be of the same order of magnitude as that of recent estimates made for Arctic permafrost.”
50 gigatons of methane could then be released and would increase the content of atmospheric methane by a factor of 12.
Unfortunately, the Arctic and Antarctic regions are racing towards meltdown, and I don’t thing there’s anything we humans could do at this point but watch and learn. These phenomena would’ve happened by themselves had we not been here, but it’s good to know that we’re accelerating the process, whatever that is.