Fire and ice: The untapped fossil fuel that could save or ruin our climate

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Methane hydrate buried below permafrost and the ocean floor could meet the world’s energy needs for 100 years – but would extracting it be catastrophic for the climate?

When we think of the planet’s diminishing fossil fuel reserves, we might picture oilfields, coal gouged from open-pit mines, or the controversial business of fracking to extract shale gas that was once beyond our technical reach.

But what if earth’s biggest store of fossil fuels was in fact a little-known, and even less accessible, untapped source of natural gas?

Beneath the sea floor, methane is trapped in ice crystals under high pressure and extremely low temperatures. The resulting substance is sometimes called “fire and ice.”

“You will find YouTube videos of this,” Steve Holbrook, professor of geosciences at Virginia Polytechnic Institute told DW.

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