Source: Science Daily
Author: Max Planck Institute for Marine Microbiology
Large quantities of the greenhouse gas methane are stored in the seabed. Fortunately, only a small fraction of the methane reaches the atmosphere, where it acts as a climate-relevant gas, as it is largely degraded within the sediment. This degradation is carried out by a specialized community of microbes, which removes up to 90 percent of the escaping methane. Thus, these microbes are referred to as the “microbial methane filter.” If the greenhouse gas were to rise through the water and into the atmosphere, it could have a significant impact on our climate.
But not everywhere the microbes work so efficiently. On sites of the seafloor that are more turbulent than most others — for example gas seeps or so-called underwater volcanoes -, the microbes remove just one tenth to one third of the emitted methane. Why is that? Emil Ruff and his colleagues from the Max Planck Institute for Marine Microbiology and the University of Bremen aimed to answer this question.
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