Recent research shows that in the depths of the Pacific Ocean carbon deposits may be melted due to the alarming rate at which the ocean’s water is warming. The melting of these deposits can release methane into the water which can be harmful for the fauna found in the ocean.
Researchers discovered that near the coast of Washington, at a depth of 500 meters, the water of the Pacific is getting warm causing methane deposits to change their state from solid to gas form. The methane is considered a gas several times more dangerous than carbon dioxide.
A professor of oceanography at the University of Washington, Evan Solomon, said that methane gas, that is estimated to be the same volume as the oil spilled from the Deepwater Horizon Oil Rig, is being released every year by the water of the Pacific off the Washington coast.
Scientists believed that global warming would eventually release methane from gas deposits all over the world but not from the Pacific Ocean. The researchers believed this phenomenon would start in the Arctic Ocean. Later experts turned their attention to the Pacific, which is estimated to have released almost 4 million metric tons of methane since 1970 to 2013.
Detailed research in this matter has led scientists to discover that the amount of methane released since 1970 from the Pacific is greater than the rate at which this gas is normally released from the bottom of the ocean by 500 times. Also this amount is equal to the burst of methane from Deepwater Horizon in 2010 near the coast of Louisiana.
The methane exposed to low temperatures and high pressure combines with the water forming a crystal called methane hydrate. These hydrates are known to be sensitive reservoirs of carbon and can be affected by the slightest increases in temperature that causes them to rupture and release the methane gas. The waters of the Pacific Ocean are known to be geologically active thus creating lots of methane hydrates at the bottom of the ocean.
Experts are worried about the fact that these deposits of methane hydrate can re-locate because of the rise of the temperature in the ocean. The temperature rise also causes the deposits to move further into the ocean and recent studies have shown that since 1970 these deposits have already moved about 1 km deeper into the Pacific.