04 Sep '12, 7pm

Solving the Ocean Methane Paradox

Four percent of the methane found in the earth’s atmosphere comes from oceans. But for decades, researchers have been flummoxed by how that could be. The only known biological source of methane is a class of microorganisms that produce methane when they are alive but die when exposed to oxygen. How could these microorganisms, called methanogens, be so plentiful in the oxygen-rich ocean? A new paper in the journal Science proposes a plausible explanation for this seemingly impossible reality, which is known as the ocean methane paradox. To back up a bit: in 2008, David Karl , a researcher at the University of Hawaii, and Edward DeLong , a researcher at M.I.T., had proposed that marine microbes, always starved for phosphorus, can use methylphosphonic acid to obtain this nutrient. Methane is a byproduct of their absorption of phosphorus. The glaring problem was that methylpho...

Full article: http://green.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/09/04/solving-the-oce...

Tweets

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grist.org 11 Sep '12, 8pm

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