U. Washington scientists study methane plume off state’s coast

By on January 15, 2015
Researchers aboard the Thomas G. Thompson research vessel working with fluid seafloor samples. (Credit: UW)

Researchers aboard the Thomas G. Thompson research vessel working with fluid seafloor samples. (Credit: UW)


Water off the coast of Washington is warming about half a degree each year, according to a release from the University of Washington. That warming is enough to melt frozen hydrates on the seafloor and release large quantities of methane.

What’s more: the depth at which the water is warming, say scientists at the University of Washington, is the same depth where solid methane turns to gas. Methane gas entering the water column can oxidize into carbon dioxide, a major greenhouse gas implicated in global warming and ocean acidification.

Researchers at the University of Washington have been studying pluming methane off the coast since fishermen sent them sonar images of bubbles about a half mile down. Much of the warm water, they believe, is coming from the Sea of Okhotsk between Russia and Japan.

Image: Researchers aboard the Thomas G. Thompson research vessel  working with fluid seafloor samples. (Credit: UW)

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