Methane munching microbes in Antarctica


In Antarctica, microbes deep under Antarctica’s icy surface are fighting global warming in their own way, one munch at a time. The microbes are feeding off the methane trapped under the ice, which helps prevent that nasty greenhouse gas from entering the atmosphere as the ice melts.

Scientists aren’t ready to call the microbes a climate change hero just yet, however, as the microbes emit carbon dioxide, a less powerful greenhouse gas, after eating their methane lunch. Methane is about 30 times more powerful of a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide, so while the microbes don’t solve the problem completely, they are at least helping reduce the most dangerous greenhouse gas. After drilling about half a mile into the ice, they found microbes eating more than 99 percent of the methane. Their next step is to look at other areas across Antarctica and see if microbes elsewhere are helping us out in the same way.