However, new research may put a damper on that belief. A international team of environmental scientists found that ancient methane being stored in the Tundra is being consumed by microorganisms before it can do any significant damage. An analysis of shelf waters along the U.S. Beaufort Sea indicated that while there has been a gradual release of ancient methane over the years, the rate at which it is being dispersed into the air is negligible. The results further suggested that surface water contamination is more likely from modern-age carbon.
These are encouraging results because it dispels the assumption that the warmer climate may cause a catastrophic release of toxic gases. Ancient gases are simply not reaching surface waters to contribute to global warming. (Related: Proof the Earth regulates carbon dioxide content in the atmosphere, self-adjusting for warming or cooling temperatures.)
The findings of the research, published in Science Advances, complement another study made last year that concluded that microorganisms in the water columns of the Arctic decrease the damage done by methane being released from the ocean floor. These microorganisms prevent methane from being released into the atmosphere. Another surprising discovery is that these very same waters likewise capture 1,900 times more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. The study, led by Dr. John Pohlman, invariably finds that Arctic waters are preventing the seepage of greenhouse gases by actually cooling the atmosphere.
Another fascinating study to consider is the one done by a team from the University of Rochester. They analyzed several cores of ice that date as far back as 50,000 years ago. Since these natural substances contain greenhouse gases from before humans existed to influence it, they act as ideal records in determining the Earth’s climate patterns.
“The main goal in our lab is to understand processes in the Earth’s atmosphere that can help us predict the future climate,” explains Vasili Petrenko, an associate professor of earth and environmental sciences at the University. “A lot of what we do is looking in the Earth’s past because this allows us to see how the chemical composition of the atmosphere has been changing over large stretches of time.”
Petrenko and his team observed that natural methane emissions from ancient carbon reservoirs were not as alarming as preached by the mainstream. In fact, the numbers were small enough for the team to conclude that the risk of total methane emission from natural sources into the atmosphere is hardly cause for worry. What people should focus more on, they say, is reducing the amount of man-made methane. This involves primarily the use of fossil fuel for energy.
“The good news is, we have more power than we realized to fight global warming,” Petrenko ends. “We do not need to worry as much as the natural methane seeps into the atmosphere [sic]. But we do need to be concerned about man-made methane emissions.”