Runaway Climate Change » Of Our Own Design: "Each of these feedback mechanisms (and others not mentioned here) would have dire consequences for life on this planet. Taken together, they would reinforce each other and magnify the change in climate. But the gravest concern is that rising temperatures on this planet will lead to a venting of methane from the oceans. It is this possibility which is lamented in the above quotation from Stephen Hawking.
Methane is stored in the deep ocean along the continental margins, in the form of clathrates. These are massive deposits of carbonated slush, where the methane is trapped under pressure in the crystal lattices of frozen water (i.e., ice). Though the oceans hold much more methane than does the tundra, taken together they contain an estimated 2 trillion tons of methane in the form of clathrates.15"
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