Remember those intriguing stories of dangerous methane gas beneath the floor of the Gulf of Mexico, and under the Deepwater Horizon oil spill? The latest research shows that Mother Nature’s dear little bacteria darlings did just what they should have done, feasted on the methane and left not a trace behind. And they did it in record time. See the green text below for what this means to climate warmers.
I published a post on the “huge methane gas bubble under the Gulf Floor” in June 2010, citing numerous “authorities, and fortunately I put my disclaimer in the first paragraph, because the stories were “scary,” and I had no clue what was true and what wasn’t.
Dr. John Kessler and Dr. David Valentine conducted the study in this report. Both believed that it would take many years for methane gas levels to reach normal. There were also concerns that the busy little bacteria’s robust feasting might use up oxygen levels, killing other organisms in their midst. That didn’t happen.
Here is their analysis:
“This was a surprise for us,” says John Kessler, a chemical oceanographer at Texas A&M University, who, along with David Valentine at the University of California at Santa Barbara, led the study. “The process was very speedy.”
By the end of July and into the beginning of August, methane decomposition rates in the broad area the team studied “were faster than had ever been recorded in any other place on the planet.”
The study has its skeptics, some saying the team from Texas A&M and University of California at Santa Barbars may be “over-interpreting its data. Another said it’s a “bold hypothesis and there could be another explanation.
This response from Dr. John Kessler, a chemical oceanographer at Texas A&M:
Dr. Kessler acknowledges the team’s study isn’t the final word on the subject. “The story will definitely evolve as we learn more about how these events change given rates of release, depth of release,” and other natural variables, he says. “But I think we have a fairly conclusive story here.”
Readings on methane and oxygen levels at 207 stations indicated a massive “bloom” of methane-eating underwater bacteria sometime between the end of June and the beginning of August. “It likely occurred after affected waters had flowed away from the wellhead,” the study said.
Kessler said the data suggested that the process of degrading the oil only stopped because the microbes had eaten their way through the methane. “It appeared that nothing stopped it except for the availability of methane.”
He said the findings also offered good news on the broader concern of climate change. Methane release from the oceans is seen as potential driver of climate change. But the study say any large-scale release would likely trigger the same response from bacteria.
There were early reports that undersea bacteria could and would do just what they did. Few believed it. Global warming enthusiasts will never accept that the huge quantities of methane gas was rendered harmless by bacteria. Never. Even if 100 percent accurate.