Sub-zero temperatures in the deep waters of the North Atlantic would significantly hamper the ability of oil-eating bacteria to help the ocean recover from a major oil spill, according to new research.
In the first study of its type, scientists at the University of Aberdeen have tested the ability of oil-degrading microorganisms found in deep water sediments west of Shetland, which is home to several major oil fields.
Microorganisms found in the ocean played an important role in breaking up millions of gallons of oil that spilled into the Gulf of Mexico as a result of the Deepwater Horizon disaster in 2010. The warm waters and abundance of oil-eating bacteria are thought to have significantly aided recovery, however a large amount of oil still reached the seafloor. Oil accumulating in ocean floor sediments can persist for decades and cause harmful effects.
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