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UCL Home  /  Geography  /  News & Events  /  News  /  News Archive  /  2015  /  March 2015  /  Frozen Heat: UNEP Report on Methane Gas Hydrates

Frozen Heat: UNEP Report on Methane Gas Hydrates

Mark Maslin among authors of “state-of-the-art” study

Frozen Heat: UNEP Report on Methane Gas Hydrates

Professor. Mark Maslin was a member of an interdisciplinary team of authors responsible for the recently published United Nations Environment Programme reports, Frozen Heat: A UNEP Global Outlook on Methane Gas Hydrates. .

Gas hydrates are ice-like deposits containing a mixture of water and gas, of which the naturally occurring most common is methane. They are stable under high pressures and relatively low temperatures, and found in deposits under the oceans and permafrost regions.  Gas hydrates may pose a serious geohazard in the near future, however, as climate change affects the stability of their deposits in both ocean sediments and permafrost.

The shrinking of the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets in response to regional warming may destabilize gas hydrates. As ice sheets shrink, the weight removed allows coastal regions and adjacent continental slopes to rise through isostacy. The consequent removal of hydrostatic pressure could destabilize gas hydrates, causing massive slope failure, and even increase the the risk of tsunamis.

Since methane is a very clean hydrocarbon, the reports also assesses the usefulness of gas hydrates as an energy resource.

Executive Summary and Volumes 1 and 2 are free to download and can be found at:

Frozen Heat: A Global Outlook on Methane Gas Hydrates: Executive Summary:

Volume 1:

Volume 2:


The Hand of Fire and Ice

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