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Video created by PolarTREC teacher Bill Schmoker onboard the International Continental Shelf Survey. This was the first piston core that returned a gas hydrate sample in the core cutter. The hydrate was about 20 feet beneath the sea floor. Once on deck it began fizzing with escaping methane. Gas hydrates turn out to be very widespread throughout the world's oceans and in permafrost areas. Studies suggest that there may be twice as much carbon stored in gas hydrates than in all other forms of fossil fuels on Earth combined. A growing concern among climate change scientists is the potential of releasing methane into the atmosphere if gas hydrates melt due to global warming. This could create a positive feedback loop because methane is a very effective greenhouse gas (a positive feedback tends to increase the process causing change.) So the worry is that more methane in the atmosphere could cause warming, which would melt more gas hydrates leading to more methane & more warming, etc. There are lots of other pieces to the global climate change puzzle but it was interesting to see this one component in person.

This program is supported by the National Science Foundation. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed by this program are those of the PIs and coordinating team, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.