From Climate Central's Michael D. Lemonick: It’s been called the Methane Bomb — a stash of gas buried under the Arctic seafloor whose heat-trapping power is much greater, molecule for molecule, than the carbon dioxide people usually worry about.
As climate change forces the Arctic to warm, experts warn that methane could escape, speeding global warming. They can’t predict when the great escape might begin, however, or how fast it might proceed. They can’t even rule out the possibility that it might have already started. So they’ve been cruising Arctic waters to get a better handle on where things stand.
Now they’ve got one.
According to Christian Berndt, of the GEOMAR/Helmholz Center for Ocean Research, he and his colleagues have known since 2008 that methane is leaking from the ocean bottom near Spitzbergen, an island in Norway’s Svalbard Archipelago. But thanks to a research cruise this past summer, they’ve got reason to believe that global warming could be part of the reason, if not the sole culprit. “We have no proof,” he said in a recent interview. “But we have several lines of evidence that fit well [with this possibility].”