Considering that methane hydrate is formed only under very specific conditions, it is likely that global warming, which in fact involves the heating of the oceans, could affect the stability of hydrated gases. There are signs in the history of the Earth suggesting that climate change in the past could lead to the destabilization of hydrated methane and consequently to the release of methane. These indications – including measurements of methane content in ice cores, for example – are still controversial.
However, the issue is particularly topical and is of particular interest to scientists dealing with climate change. An increased release of methane from the ocean into the atmosphere could further exacerbate the greenhouse effect. Therefore, research is urgently required on the stability of methane hydride in relation to temperature fluctuations and the methane behavior after its release.
In the field of methane emissions research, the Arctic is today one of the most important regions in the world. It is believed that methane appears there both in the form of hydrate gas in the sea and as free gas trapped in the icy waters of the sea. Methane reserves and its hydrated forms are considered to be very sensitive to thick seam areas (low thickness) because relatively low pressures would require only a slight change in temperature to release large quantities of methane. In addition, new methane is constantly produced, because the Arctic regions are rich in organic materials that decompose from microbes in the sediment. The activity of these microbes and hence the biological methane release rates are also enhanced by the rise in temperature. Therefore, methane emissions in the Arctic have multiple sources.
Today, international scientific bodies have been set up with the participation of researchers from various disciplines – chemists, biologists, geologists, geophysics, meteorologists – who are intensively involved in this problem. No one can say with certainty that the release of methane in the Arctic will develop with global warming, either in the ocean or on the earth. This research is still in its early stages.
A challenge for assessing the impact of climate change on hydrant methane deposits is the continuing uncertainty about the size of the global stockpile as well as the proportion of those that are prone to rising climate temperatures.
Dickens (2011) recently estimated 7×102 to 1.27×104 Gt of carbon (Gt C) to be isolated only in marine hydrocarbons, while Shakhova et al. (2010a) an estimate of 3.75×102 Gt C in methane hydrates right on the shelf of Eastern Arctic Siberian (ESAS). A conservative estimation (Boswell & Collett 2011) for the global stock of hydrated gases is ~ 1,8×103 Gt C, corresponding to CH4 ~ 3,0×1015 m3 if the CH4 density is taken as 0,717 kg / m3.
In the unlikely event that 0.1% (1.8 Gt C) of this CH4 was instantly released into the atmosphere, CH4 concentrations would increase to ~ 2900 ppb than the 2005 ~ 1774 ppb (IPCC 2007).
The situation is similar in South Korea. More than 90% of fossil fuels are imported into the country. Includes natural gas and coal used to produce electricity.
Methane Hydrates could enable these countries as well as other Southeast Asian countries, such as Taiwan or Vietnam, to reduce their dependence on energy imports.