Gas hydrates: entrance to a methane age or climate threat?.

Krey, Volker, Canadell, Josep G, Nakicenovic, Nebojsa, Abe, Yuichi, Andruleit, Harald, Archer, David, Grubler, Arnulf, Hamilton, Neil T M, Johnson, Arthur, Kostov, Veselin, Lamarque, Jean-Francois, Langhorne, Nicholas, Nisbet, Euan G, O’Neill, Brian, Riahi, Keywan, Riedel, Michael , Wang, Weihua and Yakushev, Vladimir (2009) Gas hydrates: entrance to a methane age or climate threat?. Open Access Environmental Research Letters, 4 (3). 034007. DOI 10.1088/1748-9326/4/3/034007.

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Abstract

Methane hydrates, ice-like compounds in which methane is held in crystalline cages formed by
water molecules, are widespread in areas of permafrost such as the Arctic and in sediments on
the continental margins. They are a potentially vast fossil fuel energy source but, at the same
time, could be destabilized by changing pressure–temperature conditions due to climate change,
potentially leading to strong positive carbon–climate feedbacks. To enhance our understanding
of both the vulnerability of and the opportunity pr
ovided by methane hydrates, it is necessary
(i) to conduct basic research that improves the highly uncertain estimates of hydrate
occurrences and their response to changing environmental conditions, and (ii) to integrate the
agendas of energy security and climate change which can provide an opportunity for methane
hydrates—in particular if combined with carbon capture and storage—to be used as a ‘bridge
fuel’ between carbon-intensive fossil energies and zero-emission energies. Taken one step
further, exploitation of dissociating methane hydrates could even mitigate against escape of
methane to the atmosphere. Despite these opportunities, so far, methane hydrates have been
largely absent from energy and climate discussions, including global hydrocarbon assessments
and the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

Document Type: Article
Keywords: methane hydrates, methane hydrate inventory, unconventional energy resources, security of energy supply, climate change, global warming, integrated energy and climate policies
Refereed: Yes
DOI etc.: 10.1088/1748-9326/4/3/034007
ISSN: 1748-9326
Date Deposited: 18 Nov 2015 09:08
Last Modified: 18 Nov 2015 09:08
URI: http://oceanrep.geomar.de/id/eprint/30149

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