The methane leakage from the Nord Stream gas pipeline in the southern Baltic Sea has raised concerns about its environmental impact. Researchers from the University of Gothenburg have conducted studies to analyze the extent of methane release and its dispersion in the water.

The study revealed that a significant amount of methane released from the pipeline remained dissolved in the water. Approximately 10,000 to 50,000 tons of methane were estimated to have dissolved in the sea, creating widespread dispersion over large areas.

Researchers were able to distinguish between methane from the Nord Stream leak and naturally occurring methane in the water. The isotopic composition of methane from the gas pipeline differed from that produced by the decomposition of organic material in bottom sediments, allowing for a clear differentiation.

Despite the rapid release of methane from the pipeline, no significant mixing of water layers was observed. The stratification of water, caused by temperature and salinity differences, remained stable. However, variations in methane levels were detected in the water, indicating potential dispersion and dilution over time.

The long-term impact of increased methane levels on biological life in the southern Baltic Sea remains uncertain. Researchers collected plankton samples in the affected area to assess any potential effects on phytoplankton and zooplankton. The analyses of these samples are ongoing, with initial observations suggesting high bacterial activity in the region.

A return visit to the area three months after the initial expedition was conducted to monitor changes in methane levels and biological activity. Preliminary results indicated continued high bacterial activity, but the full extent of the impact on plankton populations is yet to be determined.

The methane leakage from the Nord Stream gas pipeline has highlighted the potential environmental risks associated with offshore gas infrastructure. Continued research and monitoring are essential to understand the long-term consequences of methane release on marine ecosystems in the Baltic Sea.

Earth

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