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Methane Hydrates and Climate Change

Methane hydrates store huge volumes of methane formed by the bacterial decay of organic matter or leaked from underlying oil and natural gas deposits. The active formation of methane hydrates in the shallow crust prevents methane, a greenhouse gas, from entering the atmosphere. On the other hand, warming of arctic sediments or ocean waters has the potential to cause methane hydrate to dissociate, releasing methane into the deepwater sediments, the ocean or atmosphere. DOE is conducting research to understand the mechanisms and volumes involved in these little-studied processes.

DOE environmental and climate change research projects related to Arctic methane hydrate deposits include:

DOE environmental and climate change research projects related to marine or global methane hydrate deposits include: