Greenhouse gas ‘Zombies’ lurks in the permafrost beneath the Arctic Ocean

Millions of tons of organic carbon and methane under the Arctic Ocean thaw and spring to the surface every year. And climate change could accelerate this release greenhouse gases, suggests new research.

The carbon bound in organic matter and methane (a carbon atom bound to four hydrogen atoms) are currently trapped in submarine permafrost, a frozen sediment covered with 120 meters of seawater near the end of the Paleolithic ice age about 1,800 to 1,400 years ago, according to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS). Most of the submarine permafrost is located in the continental shelf below the Arctic Ocean, said study author Sayedeh Sara Sayedi, a doctoral student in the Department of Plant and Wildlife Sciences at Brigham Young University in Salt Lake City.