Scientists: Methane Bubbles May Increase Along Washington, Oregon Coasts

Published 10/16/2015 at 5:02 AM PDT
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff


(Seattle, Washington) – A new study from oceanographers out of Seattle's University of Washington suggests that methane bubbles – or plumes – could be on the rise beneath the oceans just off the Oregon and Washington coasts. The worry is the frozen pockets of methane ice that exist just below the ocean floor, just under the sediment, could increase in activity and reach the surface, where they could hurry along the effects of global warming.

The researchers found some 168 plumes observed off the Pacific Northwest coastlines within the past decade, and a disproportionate number were at a critical depth that could spell trouble. While most were on the Washington coast, some were on the southern coast of Oregon as well.

H. Paul Johnson, a UW professor of oceanography, is the lead author on the study. He said it appears as if a warming ocean is contributing to the problem, and that these ice pockets that have been there for thousands of years may be thawing at a higher rate because the ocean is getting warmer much deeper.

Methane is a greenhouse gas and is known to have contributed greatly to enormous swings in the Earth's climate millions of years ago. Luckily for modern civilization, there are plentiful microorganisms that eat up the methane gas before it hits the surface.

This uptick in methane plumes, Johnson said, could be pushing along some of the environmental changes already experienced by the Oregon coast's deeper waters, including the infamous and mysterious “dead zone” where oxygen becomes depleted in large areas.

Another potential consequence, Johnson said, is the destabilization of seafloor slopes where frozen methane acts as the glue that holds the steep sediment slopes in place. Things could shift and move below the waters off the Oregon coast and elsewhere.

Johnson said ocean water is being warmed at a depth of 500 meters, where many of these deposits lay. Much of the warming, however, apparently comes from a hot zone that was formed in the ocean off Siberia decades ago and has slowly moved here via currents.

The study was compiled from the work of research vessels from UW, earlier research and reports from fishermen.

Methane bubbles beneath the sea have recently entered some parts of popular culture as a handful of researchers have suggested sudden eruptions of these can theoretically cause a boat to capsize.

More about Oregon coast science.





 

More About Oregon Coast hotels, lodging.....

More About Oregon Coast Restaurants, Dining.....

A famous little family eatery where the seafood practically gets shuffled from the sea straight into your mouth. Soups and salads include many seafood specialties, including cioppino, chowders, crab Louie and cheese breads. Fish 'n' chips come w/ various fish. Seafood sandwiches with shrimp, tuna or crab, as well as burgers. Dinners like pan fried oysters, fillets of salmon or halibut, saut�ed scallops.
Oregon Coast event or adventure you can't miss
Pacific City, Oregon

 


Breathtaking high panoramic beach views from oceanfront rooms, spacious family suites & fully equipped cottages.  Known for gracious hospitality, the sparkling clean Sea Horse features a heated indoor pool, dramatic oceanfront spa, great whale watching, free deluxe continental breakfast, conference room, free casino shuttle & HBO.  Fireplaces, private decks and spas are available in select rooms.  Close to shops, golf, fishing & restaurants.  Pets are welcome in select rooms.  Senior discounts.  Kids 18 and under stay free in their parent's room.  Very attractive rates.
Lincoln City’s only resort hotel built right on the beach with all oceanfront rooms - nestled against a rugged cliffside overlooking a soft, sandy beach. Dine in penthouse restaurant and bar, for casual meal or candlelight dinner. An array of seafood specialties, juicy steaks and other Northwest favorites, including decadent Sunday buffet. Rooms range from bedrooms to studios to 1-bedroom suites with microwaves and refrigerators to full kitchens. Also, wi-fi, spa, saunas, exercise room and year-round heated swimming pool. Kids will love the game room and easy beach access. Full-service conference/meeting rooms for that inspirational retreat; extensive wedding possibilities.

 

LATEST Related Oregon Coast Articles

Spring Break Kicks Off with Whale Week, Astronomy Parties Around Oregon, the ...
On the first Saturday of spring break, you can catch wonders from the deep and in the universe above. Lincoln City events, Yachats events, Oceanside events, Manzanita events, Cannon Beach events
N. Oregon Coast History with a 10K Run and a Hollywood Twist
A special 10k run this weekend and a talk on movies filmed here. Seaside events
Newport, Oregon Coast: Whales, Spring Break Fun Collide in Big Way
Newport is host to more whale watch vantage points than any other area, bundles of family-friendly attractions. Newport events
Some Oregon Coast Beaches Under Restrictions to Protect Threatened Plover
March 15 through September 15 is when a handful of Oregon coast beaches come under certain restrictions
Ghosts on the Coast? Seaside, Oregon's Paranormal Fest March 31
Curiosity seekers and wannabe Ghostbusters are encouraged to manifest in Seaside. Cannon Beach events
Spring Equinox Monday Has Trippy Astronomy for Oregon, the Coast
Spring will swoop down into Oregon and the coast on Monday, March 20
Hiking Event at Central Oregon Coast's Cape Perpetua; Forest Road Closure
March 18 is the date for a special event of hiking and history. Yachats events
Oregon Coast Outdoors: Tidal Tours of Cannon Beach, Lincoln City River Cleanup
Tours start March 23; river cleanup on April 8. Lincoln City events, Cannon Beach events

Back to Oregon Coast

Contact Advertise on BeachConnection.net
All Content, unless otherwise attributed, copyright BeachConnection.net Unauthorized use or publication is not permitted