However, while Sparrow and Kessler dated methane found in modern-day seawater, Petrenko radiocarbon dated methane from the ancient atmosphere that was preserved in the ice of Arctic glaciers. 1, eaao4842, DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aao4842 , document is subject to copyright.
"Petrenko and his co-authors studied a rapid warming event from the past that serves as a modern-day analog," Sparrow says. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission.
In response to warming ocean waters, hydrates can degrade, releasing the methane gas.
Scientists have warned that release of even part of the giant reservoir could significantly exacerbate ongoing climate change.
By employing a technique they developed that involves collecting methane from roughly ten thousand gallons of seawater per sample, they made a surprising discovery: ancient-sourced methane is indeed being released into the ocean; but very little survives to be emitted to the atmosphere, even at surprisingly shallow depths.
"We do observe ancient methane being emitted from the seafloor to the overlying seawater, confirming past suspicions," Kessler says.
of Minnesota Duluth); Ph D candidate Fenix Garcia-Tigreros (UR); Sparrow; and Kessler, associate professor of earth and environmental sciences, aboard the research vessel in Prudhoe Bay, Alaska.Sparrow; her advisor, John Kessler, an associate professor of earth and environmental sciences; and a team of scientists from the Universities of Rochester, California Irvine, Minnesota Duluth, and Colorado Boulder, as well as the US Geological Survey and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, conducted fieldwork just offshore of the North Slope of Alaska, near Prudhoe Bay.Sparrow calls the spot "ground zero" for oceanic methane emissions resulting from ocean warming.With the combination of the aggressive warming occurring in the Arctic and the shallow water depths, any released methane has a short journey from emission at the seafloor to release into the atmosphere.The researchers used radiocarbon dating to fingerprint the origin of methane from their samples.