The Azimuth Project
Arctic methane deposits (Rev #1)

Arctic methane deposits

Idea

The cold Arctic regions contain large amounts of the greenhouse gas methane depostied in forms which are currently stable due to the low termperature. It is hypothesised that a small but signficant warming of the Arctic regions could destabilise these and lead to large releases of methane into the atmosphere.

Details

The Arctic “stores” methane in three dominant forms:

  1. Conventional gas deposits.

  2. Locked in permafrost.

  3. Stored as methane clathrates (essentially methane molecules trapped in ice crystals) on the seabed.

The last two are believed to be pretty much stable at historical Arctic temperatures, but may be destabilised by small but significant warming of the Arctic regions. It is believed that 0.5 Mt of methane is currently being released from the Arctic per year (see Shakhova et al). However it is beleived plausible that up to 50 Gt of methane could be released into the atmoshpere very quickly should the storage become destabilised.

References

Wikipedia has information about general Arctic methane

and the chemistry of methane clathrates

category: carbon