Scientists have discovered an active methane leak from Antarctica’s sea bed that could shed light on the potent Methane trapped beneath the frozen continent. This is the first time a natural seep has ever been detected in the continent. However, if the green house gas reaches the atmosphere it could exacerbate global warming because methane is a more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide.
Atmospheric levels of green house gas have been rising due to human activities. The microbes found near the Antarctic seep actually help keep methane out of the atmosphere by consuming the gas before it can rise through the water into the air. Marine ecologist Andrew Thurber first glimpsed what a colleague described as a “microbial waterfall” during a dive in the icy waters of the Ross Sea in 2012.
Karla Heidelberg, a microbial ecologist with the US-based National Science Foundation, said more methane seeps could be revealed as climate change causes oceans to warm and Antarctic ice sheets melt.