Microbes might be gatekeepers of the planet’s greatest greenhouse gas reserves

large iceberg with a through arch in Antarctic waters

Chris Allen, Queen’s University Belfast and Niall English, University College Dublin

Massive greenhouse gas reserves, frozen deep under the seabed, are alarmingly now starting to thaw. That’s according to an international team of scientists whose preliminary findings were recently reported in the Guardian. These deposits, technically called methane “gas hydrates”, are often described as “fiery ice” due to the parlour trick of burning atop a Bunsen burner what appears to be ice.

The research is not yet peer-reviewed and has been controversial, with some climate scientists saying the Guardian article makes unsupported claims. We agree that findings should be peer-reviewed before they are reported. But as experts in these exact methane hydrates, we’re more sympathetic than the climate scientists towards the idea that this a serious possibility that we need to start worrying about. So although it is controversial, let’s suppose for a moment that these latest findings are real and that methane frozen below the seabed really is being released. What does this mean?

Methane is not as common as carbon dioxide, but it also contains carbon and is a potent greenhouse gas. Many people have heard of methane being stored in Arctic permafrost, but few realise that there are also massive and much larger deposits of the gas locked beneath the seabed.

Although seabed greenhouse gas thawing has been foreseen – and feared – for some time, it was only suspected to become a serious problem by the middle of this century. If it now seems to be melting much earlier, its a signal that human indifference to the environment, and release of fossil fuel carbon, is now being effectively amplified by the disintegration of our own planet’s geological balance. https://www.youtube.com/embed/w8d38CXQoJw?wmode=transparent&start=0 ‘Fiery ice’ in action.

To put this into perspective, there is perhaps 20 times more carbon stored in these natural underground reserves than in the entire biomass of Earth combined – that is, all plants, animals and microbes. Clearly, there is at least the potential for greenhouse gas to be released from these deposits on a significant scale.

Methane entrapped in their icy jail cells of hydrates underground ought to stay there for millions of years, accumulating over the aeons. If these deposits are now rapidly thawing, we might think that basic physical parameters such as temperature and pressure are the only things that control their formation and destabilisation. If this was the case, then the problem could be easily understood, and even possibly mitigated through human intervention. However, it increasingly seems that other less predictable factors are also relevant.

World map with shaded areas near the coasts
Estimated methane hydrate occurrences in the world. World Ocean Review (data: Wallmann et al)

One unexpected influence is the Earth’s fluctuating magnetic field which, as we discovered in a study published last year can potentially destabilise the methane deposits. There’s even the possibility that this same effect could eventually lead to mass extinction: global gas-hydrate destruction may have caused the great end-Permian extinction event which wiped out 90% of species on Earth some 250 million years ago.

Microbes may be stabilising these methane deposits

Another overlooked factor is the role of microbial life. Microbes have been with us for more than 3 billion years and are found just about everywhere on our planet, including deep beneath the seabed, in places we might otherwise think living things could not survive – let alone thrive. It seems perfectly natural then that these same microbes interact with stored hydrate reserves, perhaps even using the high-energy methane to flourish.

Black and white photo of some rod-shaped bacteria.
A kind of Methylobacterium, similar to the bacteria that lives off underground methane. Microbe wiki / Anesti et al

What if these microbes also stabilise their “food source”? Our research teams have recently shown that marine methane-using bacteria can easily produce simple proteins or “bio-molecules” that do just that. Furthermore, in laboratory experiments and computer simulations we demonstrated the accelerated formation of gas hydrates by such bio-molecules so that we can now conclude that microbes will indeed coordinate these reserves in the real-world conditions found under our seas and oceans.

The story becomes even more intriguing. We next studied the effect of both magnetic field changes and bio-molecules on the rates of methane-hydrate formation. These two factors appear to complement each other, so that microbes growing on hydrates in the presence of the Earth’s relatively weak, but changing, magnetic field could have adapted and evolved – no doubt over geological timescales – to control adeptly the massive methane-hydrate deposits that are found below the seabed and in the permafrost.

In other words: yes, microbes really may be the gatekeepers of this aspect of the Earth’s climate stability. If, and clearly it is still a big “if”, we have upset this delicate geo-microbial balancing act through global warming, then we won’t just be playing with fiery ice, we may ultimately see a world with temperature rises not seen since before the dinosaurs roamed the planet.

Chris Allen, Professor of Cross-Disciplinary Microbiology, Queen’s University Belfast and Niall English, Professor, School of Chemical and Bioprocess Engineering, University College Dublin

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

120 thoughts on “Microbes might be gatekeepers of the planet’s greatest greenhouse gas reserves

    • Somehow CO2 released by human activity is far more warming than CO2 released by natural causes. And somehow, our warming is far more harmful than warming from natural causes.
      Microbes know the difference!

      Article is what-if Piled Higher & Deeper.
      Does the author have one of those special climatology PHDs?

    • As the concept of a greenhouse gas (GHG) was cobbled up to serve climate alarmism, it is important to understand why no gas at any concentration can warm the climate and, particularly in the global climate models, this is impossible.

      The key is that “climate science” says that it is these gases (CO2, water vapor and methane) in the upper tropical troposphere (UTT) which absorb upward IR radiation from the surface and re-emit it back to the surface, thus warming the surface. Here is the crucial flaw, the UTT is -17 deg C and the surface is 15 deg C. All of the energy levels equivalent to -17 deg C in the surface are full and thus reflect/reject absorption of this downward IR, which is then lost upward to space. Thermodynamics clearly indicates that a cold object cannot warm a hot object.

      Think about it. Your are in a room which has walls at 23 deg C and your body is 37 deg C. Do you warm the walls or do the walls warm you? Now, if you were outside and it was colder than room temperature, say 0 deg C, you would shed heat faster because there would be a steeper temperature gradient than between you and the room. The room keeping you warmer than if outside IS NOT a greenhouse effect, just an intermediate material placed between you and the outside that decreases your heat loss. Heat loss of the building has to be equal over time to your generated heat or the building would get warmer over time.

      The crux of the matter is that IR from the UTT is reflected back to space and does not represent a wall that slows heat conduction or transfer. Interestingly, space does not have a temperature as temperature relates to matter and space is effectively a vacuum, so it is no temperature, tantamount to absolute zero.

      Venus is often wrongly used a an exampled of the greenhouse effect (GHE). Venus is about 95% CO2 and at 90 atmospheres and about 500 deg C. The key here is that a greenhouse requires that solar input (insolation) reach the surface. As Venus has a permanent upper level could deck, solar input does not reach the surface. The average temperature of Venus at the surface is dominated by gravitational heating and not any spurious GHE. The same gravitational heating is what gives Earth its average 15 deg C at the surface.

      In the global climate models, they do not include night-time, having insolation 24/7. They pretend to fix the fact that Earth has a nightside by dividing the insolation by 4. This somewhat corrects for the amount of insolation overall, but, and a big BUTT, is that they do not include the loss of energy during night-time to space. This is where CO2 and water vapor (methane is 1/400th of the concentration of CO2, so it is meaningless), more accurately called “radiative gases,” convert thermal energy in the atmosphere to IR that is emitted both up and down. The down is reflected back up by the always warmer surface and the IR lost to space. This explains why, all year round, the air chills down so quickly after sundown. During daytime, these gases are saturated with solar input and are effectively a wash, except for the fact that some of the energy they do absorb and re-emit is sent upward, thus decreasing solar energy input a small amount.

      Nope, no GHGs to worry about, CO2 and methane both have about a 5-year half-life in the atmosphere, so they are very transient and not a problem. CO2 is also greening the planet, which is just plain wonderful.

      • Hi Charles. Congratulations on getting so much of the story right.
        I’d love to be able to cite a source for your claim that CO2 has a 5-year lifespan in the atmosphere. Can you share it with me?

        However, when you comment ‘a cold object cannot heat a warm object’, the relevant warm object is the sun.
        If the only warm object were the surface of the earth, we’d soon freeze to death.

        As you know, in geological times the sun was 40 percent smaller. The standard explanation of why it was not a giant snowball for all those billions of years is the greenhouse effect. If there is no such thing, then we would have been a permanent iceball.

        • Rubbish – there is no such thing as a “greenhouse effect”.

          Earth’s temperature is the result of two powerful negative feedback systems that are entirely related to the properties and extent of surface water.

          Oceans form sea ice at 271.3K that insulates the water below to prevent heat loss. Tropical oceans form dense cloud through the process of cloud burst once the precipitable water reaches 38mm that can completely block the midday sun. They prevent further heat take up. SST cannot exceed 305K.

          The global average temperature just happens to be the arithmetic mean of these two extremes. – End of story.

          The Nino34 shows the result of the these thermostatic control of the tropical SST:
          https://1drv.ms/b/s!Aq1iAj8Yo7jNg3j-MHBpf4wRGuhf
          Zero trend over the past 40 years.

          If you believe the “greenhouse effect” exists I have quite a few bridges I can sell you. You are truly gullible.

  1. The Holocene Climate Optimum was a warm period roughly from 9,000 to 5,000 years ago, with the peak warmth about 8,000 years ago. Where was all the methane bad news 8,000 years ago, when the planet was WARMER than now.

    And why is it that the future climate is ALWAYS predicted to be bad news?
    We have had intermittent global warming since the late 1600s Little Ice Age, and it has been good news all the way. But the future climate can never one better than it is today? It can only be worse, or worse than we thought, or worse than worse than we thought? Leftist climate alarmists love to be miserable … even while living in the best climate our planet has had, for humans, animals and plants, for over 300 years!

    • > Where was all the methane bad news 8,000 years
      > ago, when the planet was WARMER than now.
      No. Actually, they don’t know it for sure. The _average_ temperature at the _peak_ was like today, maybe a bit warmer, maybe a bit colder, the jury is still out. FYI the article above clearly speaks about the future when we expect higher temperatures. Furthermore, it is known that behind the _average_ there’s quite a _local_ diversity ‘cos latitudes closer to the equator had less warming or were even cooler than today. Conversely, latitudes closer to the poles were warmer.

      • The Holocene was definitely warmer than today. The Arctic was ice-free in Summer, and the boreal treeline was far further North than it is today.

        • > how a light warmng of the atmosphere may warm the depth.
          Well, the effect is not neccessarily caused directly by heating. Just read this fcukin article please! You can read, can’t you? They are talking about the stabilizing effect of microbes, also about magnetic fields, for gods sake! At least for the microbes, even slight surface warming can have destabilizing effect!

          • what they call destabilizing effects….is just simply change…something different
            ….it does not mean something bad….and most time means something better

            Study nitrification, denitrification, ammonification, etc for a better grip….
            …and stop falling for this BS

          • Nyilci, instead of doubling down on your CAGW assertions, why not answer those who told you WHY we do KNOW it was considerably warmer in the last 12 k years.

        • Krishna, that is the very obvious question that only a very few, of the few true sceptics, ever ask.

          And of course, alarmists will ignore it, simply because it is as equally obvious that they have no sensible answer to the question.

          The mere idea that vast deposits of frozen methane, stored in upper levels of the sea bed, itself under 10’s or hundreds of metres of very cold water, could have their stability so badly affected by a 2 or 3 degree’s Centigrade increase in the average temperature of the atmosphere, that those deposits all thaw & escape into the atmosphere, is fairy-tale stuff that no scientist with self-respect could possibly believe.

      • Around the year 1,000 the Norse settled on Greenland where they lived on some 280 farms, raising the likes of oats, barley and rye. Try all of that on Greenland today.
        Reference: Time-Life, series Planet Earth, volume Atmosphere, copyright 1983, revised 1987, pages 156-157.)

          • “At present, local production accounts for 10% of potatoes consumption in Greenland, but that is projected to grow to 15% by 2020.”

            From the Wiki article you cited.

            In short, Greenland still relies mostly on imports for its food, even for a crop as hardy as potatoes. What would happen if those imports were unavailable, as they would have been 1000 years ago?

            Loydo, you are an ignorant dolt.

      • Funny how those trees grew underneath the glaciers , hey nyholist !

        Stop DENYING CLIMATE CHANGE.

        Its been warmer than now for MOST of the Holocene.

        We are LUCKY enough to be living in a small bump of slight warming just after the coldest period in 10,000 years.

      • Nyolci, not only is there strong scientific evidence that it was indeed warmer during the Holocene climate optimum ~7000 years ago than today, evidence that spans several scientific disciplines, but there is even strong evidence that it was warmer during the Roman warm period 2000 years ago and warmer during the Medieval warm period 1000 years ago. For example, the Grand Teton glaciers that exist today were known to have completely melted by the year 1350 – they regrew during the Little Ice Age from 1350 to about 1850. Look, the fact that it has been warmer in the past is even documented in written history. The trouble for alarmists is that for thinking people to believe their doom-and-gloom predictions, like this methane hydrate nonsense, they have to rewrite the well-established scientific record and explain why their predicted catastrophe hasn’t already happened – they’re only going to be able to fool scientific illiterates.

        • “they’re only going to be able to fool scientific illiterates.”

          ie, loy, griff, nyholist, and a few other forgettables.

        • like griff and loy-dumb

          the nyholist is HEAVILY into CLIMATE CHANGE DENIAL !!

          Its the only way he can keep his little CAGW fantasies alive in his brain-hosed little mind.

        • > Nyolci, not only is there strong scientific evidence
          > that it was indeed warmer during the Holocene
          > climate optimum ~7000 years ago than today
          Okay then 🙂 please tell me what part of science you accept and what you reject. ‘Cos those guys who researched this above are the same stock as those dreaded climate scientists. This result you (mis)quote here is a reconstruction just as the “hockey stick” you fear and loathe so much.

          So, according to reconstructions, the peak warm was at different times at different places, and cc. 8000 years ago there was a global peak (ie. the average peaked). There were multiple peaks but this one was the greatest.

          The very recent warming (a matter of instrumental record) is at least 1C warmer than that Holocene peak, and nowadays warming is global, ie. almost every place is warmer than it used to be. Furthermore, this warming is extremely quick in geological timescales (as you rightly pointed out the scientific evidence), and there’s no sign of it ending.

          Oh, and the Medieval Warm period was local to certain places in the Northern Hemisphere, it wasn’t a global phenomenon.

    • Looking at the phase diagram;
      If it did not melt 12 000 years ago, why would it do so now, with ~130 meters of extra water on top of it?

    • In the 60s the Club of Rome and company decided they needed ways to force the world to do what they say. Disease, starvation/poverty, and global warming were selected. The first two were not as feasible as the Scan of Manmade Global Warming as it is something that is not really tangible. While people dying or starving are more tangible. Anthropogenic global warming was born and has been built up over time, counting on the ignorance and gullibility of the people to convince them of the alarm.

      There was a site called The Green Agenda that described many of the participants in this plant, their goals and breakdowns of the deep ecology of the Nazis that fuels the agenda. The site has disappeared from my search engines. I am so glad I pdf’s most of the site and might be able to post it somewhere.

  2. Imaging that greenhouse theory was a myth and that greenhouse gases actually do the opposite. What if an atmosphere wicked thermal energy off a planet by adding an energy transfer mechanism, Convection aids the cooling of a planet by adding yet another mechanism of passive energy transport.

    • The fun part is that without an atmosphere the night side would be about -100 deg C and the sunny side would be about 200 deg C. So, I say that having an atmosphere both warms the night but cools the day—it moderates the temperature, both ways.

      Then, there is the global heat engine of the water cycle that transfers about 85% of solar energy input from the surface to altitude where it is lost to space. This is the 85% that warmist Trenberth tries to claim is lurking in the deep ocean waiting to jump out at us like the boogeyman in the closet. Trenberth ingenuously only considers movement of energy by radiation, which is clearly a minor part of the energy budget.

  3. “Microbes have been with us for more than 3 billion years…”

    Really!? Like earth itself, the existence of microbes greatly exceeds and predates the brief existence of “us.”

  4. Deep water doesn’t heat by so called CO2 warming.
    Frozen methane can’t melt by actual human behaviour, i.e. burning fossils.

      • Yep. In a pinch, would you take legal advice from the Guardian or:

        ……. legal advice from the Man in the Pub ?

        Also, a pity that the pathetic sharks went extinct due to “climate”, and Johnny Fartpants made more methane than anything in this article.

  5. Such active imaginations these “scientists” have! Maybe they should be writing science fiction instead. At least that would serve some purpose.

  6. So-called ‘greenhouse’ gases radiate toward space. The other 99.9% of the atmosphere does not. That has the effect of cooling the atmosphere. Can’t ANYONE get past their beliefs and just THINK about what would happen if we had no greenhouse gases? We would have a warmer world, because the ONLY way the earth could cool would be to increase radiation, which would mean a warmer earth.

  7. Wow. These authors have pointed us to the next natural gas bonanza. Actually the Japanese are already there.

    What again was the temperature at the bottom and how much has it changed over the past century? Less than 0.1C as far as it could be measured.

  8. “We agree that findings should be peer-reviewed before they are reported. But as experts in these exact methane hydrates, we’re more sympathetic than the climate scientists towards the idea that this a serious possibility that we need to start worrying about.”

    In my research days we called that “pleading”, the positing of a hypothetical possibility without saying as much. The advise real scientists give: read no further.

    • This was clearly a popular scientific review and marked as such, not a scientific paper. Furthermore, these professors are really competent in what they are talking about. This blog is neither a scientific paper, so what you deniers do here is arguably the same, minus the competence.

      • As they miss the historic context I can’t see much competence. And I’m certain you aren’t aware, how many scientific competence is commenting here, ok, you are not part of any competence.

      • Why don’t you do as most serious commenters on this blog do and comment under your real name instead of hiding behind a meaningless character string?.

        • Ed Zuiderwilky
          How do we know that is your real name?
          Your real name could be Ludwig L. Lipshitz
          I publish my comments as Richard Greene
          But my blog articles, since 2008 are by
          “The Cluff Claven of Finance”
          And my real name is Eaton N. Faartz
          Of course I’m not a serious commentor.

          • Yes, that is my real name. Want to see my birth certificate? And where I come from we call people like you Dick.

        • > Why don’t you do as most serious commenters
          > on this blog do and comment under your real name
          ??? My comments are serious. And I don’t even need a real name for them 🙂 See, you have your real name and you’re unable to produce serious comments. I do the exact opposite!

          > hiding behind a meaningless character string
          It’s not even meaningless, this is a nick for “Nyolcadik utas”, ie. “[The] Eight Passenger”, the title of the first Alien movie in Hungarian. For the young generation: the 8th passenger was the Alien on the spaceship.

          • Yep, your knowledge science does exist in a alien world, that is for sure !!

            This world.. that knowledge appears basically non-existent.

          • We defer of course to your superior knowledge. But can you enlighten us and point us to some of your undoubtedly many publications?

          • @Ed Zuiderwijk
            > But can you enlighten us and point us to some
            > of your undoubtedly many publications?
            Ed, Ed, is this supposed to be a clumsy attempt to turn the tables? I’m pretty sure you know well my publications (field: mathematics) as well as my qualification are irrelevant when I point to established scientific opinion. Science is a strong thing. Illustration: you wouldn’t ask for my publications when I say the Law of the Conservation of Energy is a valid law of Physics. This is you and your fellow science deniers who have to come up with actual peer reviewed publications (or, for that matter, any valid research) in order to be taken seriously.

      • “Furthermore, these professors are really competent in what they are talking about.”

        no they’re not…..they discovered “microbes”…and have absolutly no clue how they work

        anaerobic, aerobic, anoxic, oxic, sub-oxic….not one friggin clue….all the way to ammonification

        hint….where does all that pee and crap go?….and why hasn’t it turned the oceans into one big toxic out house

      • “so what you deniers”

        Come on little AGE collaborator/apologist……

        What do we DENY that you can provide solid scientific proof for ?

        Can you provide solid measured scientific proof for the very basis of your little nil-science cult religion???

        Do you have any empirical scientific evidence for warming by atmospheric CO2?

        Seems that you and griff, loydo et al are the ones DENYING natural climate change.

    • “…[A]s experts in these exact methane hydrates…”

      It’s a gaggle of geese,
      a cete of badgers,
      a congress of baboons,
      and a plague of experts.

  9. … it also contains carbon and is a potent greenhouse gas.

    Utterly clueless! It isn’t the carbon that causes methane and carbon dioxide to be greenhouse gasses. It is the physical properties of the molecules (not their constituent individual atoms) that causes them to absorb and emit energy at certain wavelengths. H2O, NO2, and O2 are all greenhouse gasses. ie. no carbon is required. link

    It’s kind of like ringing a bell. The bell’s frequency (ie. the inverse of its wavelength) will be determined by its size and shape as well as by the material it’s made from. The bigger the bell, the lower the frequency at which it oscillates. Size is the main variable, material is secondary.

    • > It isn’t the carbon that causes methane
      > and carbon dioxide to be greenhouse gas.
      No, they never claimed that. Your reading is like “it also contains carbon _therefore_ it is a potent greenhouse gas.”. They clearly intended the following: “it also contains carbon, _furthermore_ it is a potent greenhouse gas.” You read too much into a single sentence. The fact that methane contains carbon means the problem won’t disappear when eventually it gets oxidized ‘cos it leaves CO2 behind (and much of that).

        • > Really. Why did they mention that it contains carbon?
          Because it won’t leave the atmosphere even after the methane decompose. Atmospheric methane most likely ends up as atmospheric CO2, with a half time of 12 years. A very potent greenhouse gas slowly transforms to another (less potent) one.

          • “A very potent greenhouse gas slowly transforms to another (less potent) one.”

            And do you have any measured evidence at all that either of them cause any atmospheric warming ??

            Just keep mantra yapping.. its all you have.

      • ” it leaves CO2 behind”

        GREAT NEWS..

        The world NEEDS more atmospheric CO2 to strengthen the carbon cycle that all life on this CARBON -BASED Earth depends on.

      • So we now know how stupid nyolci is …. the only effective way to convert Methane to CO2 is burn it otherwise you need a catalyst 🙂

        These are the major atmospheric oxidation possibilities of methane and none results in CO2

        CH4 + ·OH → CH3· + H2O

        CH3· + O2 + M → CH3O2· + M

        CH3O2· + NO → NO2 + CH3O·

        CH3O· + O2 → HO2· + HCHO

        HO2· + NO → NO2 + ·OH
        CH4 + ·OH → CH3· + H2O

        CH3· + O2 + M → CH3O2· + M

        CH3O2· + HO2· + M → CH3O2H + O2 + M

        CH3O2H + hv → CH3O· + ·OH

        CH3O· + O2 → HO2· + HCHO

    • My reaction was similar. That sentence implies (please, no! these are allegedly scientists!!) that they believe that it’s carbon, not carbon dioxide, that’s the problem. Assuming there is a problem at all. They CANNOT mean that, surely!?

      (And sorry, nyolci; I think you’re being too generous “ Methane is not as common as carbon dioxide, but it also contains carbon …” is what they said, whatever they might have meant!)

    • In a more scientifically rigorous way than the article stated it:
      It has carbon somewhere in there, and carbon has the cooties, so we can’t even touch it! Ewhhh!

      Hopefully that wasn’t over the heads of any climate alarmists or their victims.

      Ps: I started using a pseudonym here once the climate alarmists and lemmings turned into the climate thugs and mob, fully bullying and targeting anyone who dared challenge the lack of proof of catastrophic anthropological climate change.

  10. Methane is not as common as carbon dioxide, but it also contains carbon and is a potent greenhouse gas.

    Oh my! It contains carbon! Did the people that write this stuff ever hear the phrase, “We are a carbon based life form?”

    And methane is a potent greenhouse gas. We are NEVER told how much methane is going to run up world temperatures. The reason for that is it’s not very much, so little in fact to be essentially nothing, no more than a few hundredths of a degree. If anyone can show that it’s more than that, I’d like to see a link.

  11. Wow…

    Check out all the conditionals riddled throughout this fake news BS story: “Not peer-reviewed”, “what if”, “perhaps”, “a ‘big’ if”, “appear to”, “there is at least the potential”, “we may”, “preliminary findings”, “there is perhaps”, etc., etc., etc.,

    And Leftists MSM hacks wonder why nobody trusts them anymore….

    • And, the article states, “One unexpected influence is the Earth’s fluctuating magnetic field which, as we discovered in a study published last year can potentially destabilise [sic] the methane deposits.” Without even bothering with the veracity of the claim, “can potentially destabilize,” the linked article is referring to what might happen with a reversal of the geomagnetic field. IF, that should happen any time soon, we will have more immediate problems to contend with than the release of methane that will oxidize fairly quickly.

  12. Oh, for crying out loud! How many times is the Guardian going to republish this nonsense on gas hydrates. They have been suddenly thawing for 30 years now. The threat from hydrates will happen on the same schedule as nuclear fusion reactors–always 20 years in the future.

    • I remember this one doing the rounds in the media about 20 years ago. The last time the media got hold of it they added in a lot of Hollywood-inspired theatrics to scare the pants off everyone. For example, there was speculation that you could be happily sailing along on your boat, when, all of a sudden … disaster!:
      North Sea wreck in methane mystery
      http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/1047249.stm
      There were even stories in the media about methane releases explaining the sudden disappearance of ships in the ‘Bermuda Triangle’.
      We all should be very, very scared.

  13. Methane clathrates are stable by a fairly wide margin. If you pump methane down to the sea floor, the combination of high pressure and low temperature causes the methane clathrate ice to form spontaneously. The ice formation proceeds quickly and smoothly.
    Several years ago, fear mongering about methane getting released from the clathrate deposits was all the rage. This was brought to a screeching halt when some real scientists looked into the matter and found out that Thermodynamics was holding up a big STOP sign. End of story.

    Curious, this author is claiming that these pet bacteria of his will stabilize the methane hydrate deposits, not destabilize them.
    Well, even still, you have to go where the funding is.
    *sigh*

    • Their 3rd tier of speculation:

      As the methanotrophs that live by eating methane hydrates they disturb the substrate and release small bubbles of methane that slowly float to the surface.

      A combination of geomagnetic changes and a warming ocean will increase the activity of those methanotrophs and thus more methane will be released from the substrate.

      My 4th tier of speculation:

      Methanotrophs are known to live in the water column above dissolving methane hydrates. When methane hydrates start dissolving at higher speeds, the population of methanotrophs in the water column will increase and no net additional methane will be released to the atmosphere.

      • They already know what you have pointed out.

        These researchers noted (another) negative feedback and spun it into something scary.

  14. “Methane is a greenhouse gas”
    ?????????????
    We hear the statement made all the time. Methane longest IR line is ~1300-1350 cm(-1) or about 7.7 microns. This is an energy level just about double that of outgoing LWIR.
    Another way to put it is that LWIR has only half the energy required for this absorption band. So methane should be transparent to LWIR radiating up from the surface.
    Bonus:
    This 1300-1350 cm(-1) Band is completely blanketed by a strong, broad water band. Even if methane were to be IR active here, it’s effects would be completely swamped by the water vapor.

    Fair comments, please.
    Anybody know of the rationale for classifying methane as a greenhouse given the above, please clear up the mystery.
    For reference: (scroll down on both)
    Methane:
    https://webbook.nist.gov/cgi/cbook.cgi?ID=C74828&Type=IR-SPEC&Index=1
    Water:
    https://webbook.nist.gov/cgi/cbook.cgi?ID=C7732185&Type=IR-SPEC&Index=1

  15. I confess my brain cell has always has a blind spot with regard to the volume of methane hydrates that supposedly lie breath the ocean waves.
    My mind is no clearer having viewed the above world map of methane hydrate occurrence. Can anyone better equipped with knowledge and brain cells answer the following from that map:
    1) if the deposits are frozen, why do they appear to be hugging the coastlines of continental landmasses, even in the tropics where, in many cases, coastal waters are shallow and warm? Why aren’t they found under deeper oceans where the sea bed would be considerably deeper and colder?
    2) looking at the key (which I assume actually means methane or methane hydrate, not “carbon”), they seem to imply that there are significant “fields” in which the methane/hydrate occurs at masses of 100kg PER SQUARE METRE or even more. Really? That’s simply huge! The “reservoirs” must be deep indeed! How has so much sediment been displaced and why haven’t we been mining it out in vast quantities for decades?
    Thank you in advance to anyone who can shed light on these matters.

    • “The origin and distribution of methane in marine sediments” (1974) free full is available on-line. The landmass proximity to referenced hydrated deposits is related to land being sources of matter for anaerobic bacterial production of the methane molecule component.

  16. Would the proponents then kindly explain how temperatures changed during the medieval warm period then the little ice age. Then explain why no runaway warming occurred and in fact the earth cooled again and how species survived this chaotic period. As someone already correctly pointed out, it would appear that “man made” CO2 is far more dangerous than the same molecule when it appears ” naturally “.
    As usual the stench of bovine fecal matter is strong. But it never was about climate was it (rhetorical).

  17. IF we can figure out how to harvest that stuff SAFELY, then we could increase the carrying capacity of the continents/ land masses for life. Life is carbon-based.

  18. This article is about microbes–tiny life.
    If there is any dramatic release of a significant amount of methane hydrates, that will not be due to the trivial amount of global warming. It will be due to farming, household, and industrial chemistry poisoning, poisoning, poisoning relentlessly, throwing off the sea biology along with that of the land.

  19. The research is not yet peer-reviewed and has been controversial, with some climate scientists saying the Guardian article makes unsupported claims.

    Not in my book. I get all my science from the Guardian.

    • That’s not funny. There are actual people, who walk among us, who do. Some even post on here.

      Awwww OK, it is kinda funny.

      • But as experts in these exact methane hydrates, we’re more sympathetic than the climate scientists towards the idea that this a serious possibility that we need to start worrying about.

        yeah its funny
        that para above is when I started laughing

  20. Any imaginary excuse will do when your goal is to persuade politicians with limited scientific knowledge to reduce the liberty of the people and accrue more power to the elite.

  21. Wonderful news. The only possible alternative to nuclear. Harvest it! My understanding is Japan is working on doing just that!

  22. Chris Allen, Professor of Cross-Disciplinary Microbiology, Queen’s University Belfast and Niall English, Professor, School of Chemical and Bioprocess Engineering, University College Dublin”

    When you are a plumber, everything is a plumbing problem. When you’re an electrician, everything is an electrical problem. When you’re software engineer, everything is a software problem. You get the picture. When you’re a microbiologist, everything revolves around microbiology. It’s all about what ultimately pays the bills and funds the retirement plan for each of us.

    This is just Rent Seekers trying to frame an alleged climate problem as a microbiology problem that can be studied under the climate gravy train of grant money.

  23. This article is all wrong. Methane should be of little concern to anyone because if quickly reacts with oxygen in the atmosphere to form a very harmless gas that is required by life on this planet, CO2. The previous interglacial period, the Eemian, was warmer than this one with higher sea levels and more ice cap melting yet there is no evidence of a huge increase in CO2 coming from underwater or permafrost methane and clearly no climate tipping point was ever crossed. There is a much larger rserve of greenhouse gas that is stored in the oceans in liquid form and is currently evaporating into the Earth’s atmosphere and nothing is being done to stop it. Molecule per molecule this greenhouse gas is a stronger IR absorber than is CO2 and there is already on average, 50 times more of this molecule in our atmosphere than is CO2. If all of this liquid greenhouse gas stored in the oceans of the world were to enter the Earth’s atmosphere the Earth’s surface would become higher than it is on Venus as would be the surface temperature of this planet. Currently nothing is being done to prevent this from happening. The greenhouse gas that I am talking about is already the primary greenhouse gas in the Earth’s atmosphere, H2O.

    • Not the Eemian but the PETM, an extremely warm period 55,5 million years ago lasting only 200.000 years with palm trees growing on Ellesmere Island, crocs swimming around the North Pole and CO2 levels as high as 6500 ppm. One of the possible causes is massive release of methane hydrites from the seafloor. Isotope evidence shows that the C in the CO2 is old C that had been long out of the C cycle.
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paleocene–Eocene_Thermal_Maximum#Methane_release See 7.6

      In this times of climate hysteria you have to come up with something really BIG to secure your grant…

  24. Years ago an article Forbes estimated that if we could find a commercial way of extracting methane hydrates there was the potential of several thousand years of energy available. Unknown if anyone is working on this other than maybe Japan.

  25. First of all, the hydrates are natural gas, not just methane.
    https://spec2000.net/text106fp/hydr2c.jpg

    Then natural gas hydrates are stable according to a “zone of stability” which
    is a combination of temperature/pressure.

    https://spec2000.net/text106fp/hydr2c.jpg

    There is a mass of natural gas hydrates off the Carolina coast which has a layer
    of what appears to be the oceans bottom which is ~500 feet thick, below which
    is a layer of natural gas hydrates which is a ~ 500 meters thick.

    A portion of Blakes Ridge has been cored and age tested to be more than 50
    million years old.

    The charts that I use indicate that it has been much warmer and much colder
    in that time than it is now.

    The article above which seems to indicate that can determine abiotic vs biotic
    hydrocarbons by isotopic ratio.

    The article below indicates that this conclusion is wrong. Very large and very
    expensive diamonds formed 250-410 miles deep in the earth have inclusions
    of methane which, under other circumstances, would be called biotic.

    https://www.geochemicalperspectivesletters.org/article1915/

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