Artic Expedition Investigates Climate Change, Alternative Fuel

by | Nov 24, 2009

arctic seaAn Arctic expedition may yield clues about climate change, while also providing the impetus to exploit an alternative fuel that may be mined from under the Beaufort Sea.

International scientists took part in surveys that sampled three regions of the Alaskan shelf to determine methane cycling into the atmosphere.

The research may also lead to ways to exploit large deposits of methane hydrates, which are essentially frozen mixtures of methane gas that hover just above the ocean floor, according to a press release.

Harvesting the methane hydrates may take on extra importance if the Arctic continues to lose summer sea ice. Warming of the Arctic could lead to release of the frozen methane gas, adding more carbon into the atmosphere.

The September expedition, dubbed Methane in the Arctic Shelf and Slope (<ITAS-1), involved scientists from the U.S., Denmark, France and others.

Support came from the Naval Research Laboratory, Office of Naval Research, Department of Energy, Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research, French Research Institute for Exploitation of the Sea and the German Leibniz Institute of Marine Sciences.

Future expeditions are expected to include scientists from Scotland’s Herriot-Watt University, Norway’s University of Bergen and GNS Science of New Zealand.

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