Bacterial bail-out for Deepwater methane

Paul Raven @ 07-01-2011

Well, that’s one less thing to worry about. The Deepwater Horizon oil-well crisis released a whole lot of hydrocarbons into the environment, the most obvious (and destructive) of which was the oil itself. A whole lot of methane got out too, which was something of a worry; we’ve more than enough greenhouse gases to be going on with as it is. But the bulk of the methane released – assuming the estimates of volume were right, anyway – appears to have been eaten up by ocean-going microbes:

Methane is thought to account for 30% by weight of the output from BP’s blown-out well, and was a major component of a vast plume of oil and gas that formed about 1,000 metres deep.

However, contrary to the expectations of the lead researcher in the new study, John Kessler, an oceanographer at Texas A&M University, that the methane would linger for years, nearly all of the gas was consumed by microbes within 120 days of the blow-out.

By the time Kessler and his team returned for the second of their three research missions to the Gulf on 18 August, the methane had been scrubbed.

“All of that evidence had pointed to a much longer lifetime of methane in deepwater plumes with a lifespan possibly as long as years,” he said. “It was quite surprising.”

Readings on methane and oxygen levels at 207 stations indicated a massive “bloom” of methane-eating underwater bacteria sometime between the end of June and the beginning of August. “It likely occurred after affected waters had flowed away from the wellhead,” the study said.

A silver lining to a decidedly dark cloud, there. Someone should get to researching those little beasties quickly; it’d be nice to have some sort of tool to deal with the potential planetary-scale farting that melting permafrost might produce. And who knows – with a bit of bioengineering, perhaps they could be made to convert that methane into something useful.

Oil Spill Fundraiser Anthology from Book View Cafe

Paul Raven @ 17-09-2010

Breaking Waves anthology coverWhat’s better than good quality reading material? Good quality reading material that supports a good cause, of course!

So whether you’re a fan of genre fiction and poetry, concerned about the environmental impact of the Deep Horizon oilspill or both, you should take a look at Book View Cafe’s Breaking Waves anthology:

Edited by Phyllis Irene Radford and Tiffany Trent, Breaking Waves offers up glimpses of maritime splendor, poignancy, and humor through the works of poets, essayists, and Hugo and Nebula-award winning authors like Ursula K. Le Guin, Vonda N. McIntyre, David D. Levine, and more.  All proceeds from the sale of this anthology will go to the Gulf Coast Oil Spill Fund of the Greater New Orleans.

Available in four DRM-free formats – epub, mobi, pdf, prc – and just US$4.99… sounds like a bargain to me!

(Thanks to Nancy Jane Moore for the tip-off.)

A Most Fundamental Substance: Oil and Oceans

Brenda Cooper @ 23-06-2010

Every month, I spend about a week with an ear to the news, specifically sifting for ideas for this column. I like to plan around something that resonates with me. This month, I’m sick at heart about the catastrophic oil spill. It feels like death. But there are already a lot of people writing about it. Besides, it would make me sad to research it extensively. So I turned my attention to the oceans in general. I was surprised to find out how much they feel the same as the oil spill. But I’m going to write about them anyway. I normally hope you’ll enjoy my column, but in this case, I think I just hope you read it. It’s tough to feel enjoy news about our oceans right now. Continue reading “A Most Fundamental Substance: Oil and Oceans”