The moon helps to control the release of methane from the Arctic Ocean

A new study finds that the tidal rhythms play a role in the intensity and frequency of methane releases from sediments in the Arctic Ocean. Lower tides mean more intense releases, while higher tides reduce the height and volume of gas releases. 

The pressure and temperature of sediment pours every hour and the upward and downward movement of gas is linked to pressure, which is in turn determined by the tides. Low tide means less of such hydrostatic pressure and higher intensity of methane release. High tide equals high pressure and lower intensity of the release.

Methane is an extremely potent greenhouse gas. Once released into the atmosphere, it has 86 times the warming potential of carbon dioxide before it decays to the latter after one or two decades. It is currently generated by human activities like fossil fuel production and transportation, livestock agriculture and the decay of organic material in landfills.

As the planet warms, it could be released by the thawing of frozen gas deposits in the Arctic Ocean known as hydrates. Preliminary data released by Arctic scientists in October revealed wide methane release off the Eastern Siberian coast.

While higher temperatures mean greater thawing, the fact that greater water pressure reduces the height and volume of gas releases may mean that sea level rise partly counterbalances the impact of warming.

Earth systems are interconnected in ways that we are still deciphering. The moon causes tidal forces, the tides generate pressure changes and bottom currents that in turn shape the seafloor and impact submarine methane emissions. Fascinating! (source: ecowatch.com)

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