alexa Ocean currents disturb methane-eating bacteria

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Ocean currents disturb methane-eating bacteria

Bacteria that feed on methane can control its concentration once it is released from the ocean floor. This can potentially stop the greenhouse gas from entering the atmosphere. But ocean currents can easily disturb dinner. There is a large, and relatively poorly understood, community of methane-consuming bacteria in this environment. They gorge on the gas, control its concentration in the ocean, and stop it from reaching the ocean surface and released into the atmosphere. In the atmosphere methane is a much more potent climate gas than CO2 and it can amplify current global warming. This bacteria filter could become even more important in the future, because environmental change can cause bottom water warming in the Arctic Ocean. As a consequence methane rich gas hydrates in the ocean floor dissociate, and release even more gas to the water column. This could increase food supply for bacteria. Future methane release from the ocean to the atmosphere will depend on ocean currents. We were able to show that strength and variability of ocean currents control the prevalence of methanotrophic bacteria.

 
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