Resilient Mother Gaia, Part MCLXXIV: GoM Methane Bloom Vanishes. #rsrh

Link: Resilient Mother Gaia, Part MCLXXIV: GoM Methane Bloom Vanishes. #rsrh

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Gulf oil spill methane bloom disappears

Methane mystery solved

Oil spillMethane from the BP oil spill was consumed by bacterial blooms.Photo: Greenpeace InternationalTwo months after the BP oil spill, scientists discovered
methane concentrations in the Gulf of Mexico were a million times greater than background

“Based on past data and research, we thought the methane
would persist in those deeper plumes for years,” Dr. John Kessler, an assistant
professor of oceanography at Texas A&M, said in an interview.

In June, Kessler and scientists from the University of
California, Santa Barbara, led a research expedition to the Gulf to measure

In a paper to be published today in Science Xpress, Kessler and his colleagues report that when they
returned to the Gulf in September to take further measurements, they discovered
that the methane had all but disappeared.

In the intervening months, bacterial blooms had dissolved
some 200,000 tons of methane.

“There appears to be a rather substantial plume of
methane-consuming organisms that seemed to have appeared sometime between when
we left the water in June and when we returned to the water in September,” said

A big question that had loomed back in June was how much of
the methane, a potent greenhouse gas, would escape into the atmosphere. The oil
spill offered a unique opportunity to gather data on how large releases of
methane could affect the planet.

“We surveyed the entire deepwater plume, 36,000 square
miles,” said Kessler. “We measured 207 different locations, and when we added up
the oxygen deficit at each location we came up with a number that only can be
explained when you have a complete consumption of that methane. If it had
cycled to the atmosphere you would not have that oxygen content. Everywhere the
methane should be there was a consistent oxygen deficit.”


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