The depth of the oceans is one of the greatest mysteries of modern times.
But now, researchers from around the world have been able to find a way to explore it and understand how it’s changing.
The research, published online in Nature Geoscience, provides the first direct evidence that sea-floor methane and carbon dioxide concentrations are increasing, and that the oceans are not getting more acidic.
It also provides the strongest evidence yet that CO2 levels are rising, too, from the seafloor, said Dr. Michael Bamberger, a marine scientist at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts.
Bamberger said he hopes to get the answer to some of the ocean’s deepest questions by building a deep ocean monitoring platform to analyze the deepness of the sea.
The researchers found that methane levels increased on average by about 20 percent a decade.
That is much faster than the 1 percent to 2 percent increase in CO2 that is expected.
The researchers expect the increase in methane to continue for the next 10 to 20 years.
They also found that the rate of increase has been increasing steadily, not slowing.
Bemerger and his colleagues measured the methane levels at a deep-water site called the Deepwater Horizon in the Gulf of Mexico.
They then ran computer models to see how much methane would be present if the deep water were to become increasingly acidic, as scientists expect it to.
Their results showed that the deep-sea methane concentration would increase by a factor of six over the next decade, and the carbon dioxide concentration by a ratio of about 5 to 1.
Bimmerger said the increase will be “very worrying,” given the potential consequences for the environment and the food supply.
The Deepwater is located about 50 miles off the coast of Louisiana.
Bamberer said it is a very sensitive area to CO2 because of the presence of large amounts of the greenhouse gas, and there is a significant amount of it.
There is also methane at the surface, but it has less potential for being released into the atmosphere, he said.
The scientists have published their findings in the journal Nature Geo.
The team has been working to understand how the deep sea has changed over time.
The team has studied the seafloors at four sites in the Caribbean, and they also measured the CO2 concentrations at two sites in Hawaii.
They used computer simulations to look at how the ocean is changing and to determine how much CO2 is in the deep waters and what is present there.
Their work showed that methane and CO2 are rising at the same rate, at the rate that is happening now.
The deeper the depth of ocean, the faster the methane and the faster CO2 rise.
Bimmerger and coauthors said this means that methane concentrations will increase even faster than they are currently.
“We have this very large amount of CO2 in the ocean, and we don’t know why, or we don.
The mystery is what’s going on there,” said Bambergers co-author Daniel T. Fiske, a researcher at the Woods Hole Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies in Massachusetts and the author of the paper.
In an email, Fiskes said: “The findings demonstrate that the CO 2 concentrations in the oceans have continued to increase over the last decade and suggest that ocean acidification and acidification of deep water may be a key driver of increased CO 2 levels in the atmosphere.
This may provide the key to understanding the mechanism underlying global warming, and how the oceans may be influencing climate and food security.”
Bambergers team also looked at methane concentrations in deep water.
They found that about a fifth of the CO 3 in the deepest water is methane.
And about a third of the methane is carbon dioxide.
Fisske said:”Methane is a good candidate for a CO 2 fingerprint because it is an isotope of carbon, and it’s one of a large class of compounds that we know are changing the carbon cycle in the world’s oceans.
And so the question now is, what are we doing to slow the CO² and carbonate the ocean?”
Our research provides a clear picture of what we can expect to see in the future as we increase our CO2 exposure in the deeper ocean,” he said, noting that the authors expect to find other changes in the sea level.
Scientists are also studying how CO2 and methane levels change over time, and Bamberers team has published work that shows how the change in CO 2 can cause methane to increase.
Bemerger said this is a “very important area of study” for future research.