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Worst case scenario of methane hydrate release

24.06.2004

A worst-case scenario of climate change from the possible future release of submerged methane hydrates predicts catastrophic warming in the atmosphere and rising sea level similar to conditions that preceded the last ice age. Renssen et al. simulated the climate response from a massive release of methane from gas hydrates in the oceans, using a three-dimensional model to estimate the changes to the atmosphere-sea ice-ocean system over 2,500 years.

Although the researchers do not speculate on what could initiate the temperature increase, their results indicate that an incremental oceanic warming above a few degrees Celsius [Fahrenheit] could initiate a chain reaction that would raise the water temperatures in the intermediate depths and disturb even more frozen hydrates.

The current study provides the most detailed examination of the potential warming caused by a methane hydrate-fueled enhancement of the greenhouse effect. Title: Modeling the climate response to a massive methane release from gas hydrates

Hans Renssen | Paleoceanography
Further information:
http://www.agu.org

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