The discovery of pockets of methane gas trapped in ice on the ocean floor has directed attention to the effects this gas may have on our climate. The recent warming of the atmosphere and of the oceans has increased the risk of these methane hydrates melting and liberating potent greenhouse gases. How do we assess the impact of these leaks on our climate and on ocean health?
Fears that methane could exacerbate climate imbalance have also brought about first-rate discoveries: such as the incredible role of water-column bacteria that make methane released into the water disappear, and equally surprising, the biomass hidden beneath the ocean floor that will act in the climate’s favour! In addition, the vast quantities of organic matter stocked in the permafrost of the Far North look set to release huge quantities of methane into the atmosphere if global warming continues. It’s the “freezer door left open” syndrome! For the time being, the increase in these emissions is offset by the increase in Canada’s boreal forest.