Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Ocean currents disturb methane-eating bacteria

05.05.2015

Offshore the Svalbard archipelago, methane gas is seeping out of the seabed at the depths of several hundred meters. These cold seeps are a home to communities of microorganisms that survive in a chemosynthetic environment - where the fuel for life is not the sun, but the carbon rich greenhouse gas.

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.


Cold seeps, the sites on the ocean floor where the bubbles of the methane gas rise up, are a home for a varied communities of bacteria, bivalves and other associated life forms.

Photo: NOAA-OER/BOEM/USGS

In the atmosphere methane is a much more potent climate gas than CO2 and it can amplify current global warming.

However, a new study published in Nature Geoscience shows that ocean currents can have a strong impact on this bacterial methane filter.

Varies drastically

Oceanographer Benedicte Férré, who is a team leader at CAGE, is a co-author of the study. It shows that the level of activity of the methane-consuming bacteria varied drastically over very short time spans.

The international team of scientists behind this study was able to detect that the fluctuations in bacterial communities changed at the whim of the West Spitsbergen Current that carries warm water from Norwegian Sea to Arctic Ocean. Important oceanographic factors such as water temperature and salinity changed.

The warm and salty current swept over the methane seeping sites, and carried bacteria communities away, thus disturbing methane filtration processes.

Important for the future release

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. But whether bacteria are able to consume the methane depends on ocean current dynamics as documented by Ferre and her team.

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", says Lea Steinle from University of Basel and the lead author of the study, "therefore, large bacteria populations cannot develop in a strong current, which consequently leads to less methane consumption."

Media Contact

Maja Sojtaric
maja.sojtaric@uit.no

Maja Sojtaric | EurekAlert!

More articles from Earth Sciences:

nachricht Arctic melt ponds form when meltwater clogs ice pores
24.01.2017 | University of Utah

nachricht New Study Will Help Find the Best Locations for Thermal Power Stations in Iceland
19.01.2017 | University of Gothenburg

All articles from Earth Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Scientists spin artificial silk from whey protein

X-ray study throws light on key process for production

A Swedish-German team of researchers has cleared up a key process for the artificial production of silk. With the help of the intense X-rays from DESY's...

Im Focus: Quantum optical sensor for the first time tested in space – with a laser system from Berlin

For the first time ever, a cloud of ultra-cold atoms has been successfully created in space on board of a sounding rocket. The MAIUS mission demonstrates that quantum optical sensors can be operated even in harsh environments like space – a prerequi-site for finding answers to the most challenging questions of fundamental physics and an important innovation driver for everyday applications.

According to Albert Einstein's Equivalence Principle, all bodies are accelerated at the same rate by the Earth's gravity, regardless of their properties. This...

Im Focus: Traffic jam in empty space

New success for Konstanz physicists in studying the quantum vacuum

An important step towards a completely new experimental access to quantum physics has been made at University of Konstanz. The team of scientists headed by...

Im Focus: How gut bacteria can make us ill

HZI researchers decipher infection mechanisms of Yersinia and immune responses of the host

Yersiniae cause severe intestinal infections. Studies using Yersinia pseudotuberculosis as a model organism aim to elucidate the infection mechanisms of these...

Im Focus: Interfacial Superconductivity: Magnetic and superconducting order revealed simultaneously

Researchers from the University of Hamburg in Germany, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, have synthesized a new superconducting material by growing a few layers of an antiferromagnetic transition-metal chalcogenide on a bismuth-based topological insulator, both being non-superconducting materials.

While superconductivity and magnetism are generally believed to be mutually exclusive, surprisingly, in this new material, superconducting correlations...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Sustainable Water use in Agriculture in Eastern Europe and Central Asia

19.01.2017 | Event News

12V, 48V, high-voltage – trends in E/E automotive architecture

10.01.2017 | Event News

2nd Conference on Non-Textual Information on 10 and 11 May 2017 in Hannover

09.01.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Breaking the optical bandwidth record of stable pulsed lasers

24.01.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Choreographing the microRNA-target dance

24.01.2017 | Life Sciences

Spanish scientists create a 3-D bioprinter to print human skin

24.01.2017 | Health and Medicine

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>