Tiny Microbes Make Big Impact on Climate Change

Scientists study how some microorganisms deep on the ocean floor affect our climate.
Inside Science Contributor

(Inside Science) -- A geobiologist at the California Institute of Technology researches teeny tiny microorganisms and how they interact with the environment. But the organisms she studies are not easy to find. They live deep down on the ocean floor. The microorganisms play a huge role in gobbling up methane, a greenhouse gas that gets trapped at the bottom of the ocean in the form of an ice-like substance. Those substances, called methane hydrates, dissolve when ocean temperature change. Given the expected effects of climate change on ocean temperature, large amounts of trapped methane could one day make their way into the atmosphere, warming it even more. Scientists studying these tiny organisms hope to learn more about them and how they can impact climate change.

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