Recently, New York City was disturbed and mystified by the strong odor of hydrogen sulfide. No serious effort was made to identify its source and the media dropped the story in a day. We identified the smell as possibly coming from a release of the methane which is stored on the ocean floor?a major sign of global warming. Now there are signs that this is happening in Canada too.
The odor in New York could have come from hydrogen sulfide being outgassed along with methane from the walls of the Hudson Canyon, a massive underwater geologic feature off the coast of New York. The walls of the canyon are filled with methane hydrates which will become gas if water temperatures get high enough.
In the past, global warming events have climaxed when increasing water temperatures have released hydrates of methane from the sea floor. Methane does not remain in the atmosphere long, but it causes extreme retention of heat, and if outgassing spreads, this is likely to happen.
Now remotely operated vehicle operations have revealed streams of methane-rich gas bubbles coming from the floor of Canada's Beaufort Sea. As fresh water continues to flood the northern oceans, it is likely that methane outgassing will increase, with an effect on global warming that is not yet part of the estimates of most climate researchers, but which will be dramatic.
Art credit: gimp-savvy.com
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