Arctic Ocean methane seeps accelerating

Discussion in 'Environmental Discussion' started by richard schumacher, Mar 4, 2010.

  1. richard schumacher

    richard schumacher shortbus driver

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    Undersea methane clathrates (methane trapped in water ice) are melting:
    Methane seeps rise from Siberian sea shelves | Greenspace | Los Angeles Times

    By mass, methane is about 25 times more effective as a greenhouse gas than is CO2:
    [ame=http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carbon_dioxide_equivalent]Carbon dioxide equivalent - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia[/ame]


    More details here:
    http://www.greencarcongress.com/2010/03/shakhova-20100305.html#comments
     
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  2. hampdenwireless

    hampdenwireless Active Member

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    That is a shame, its also a good energy source. Now that it is leaking it will cause damage while if we would have used it to replace oil we could have burned it cleanly with less CO2 then oil.
     
  3. icarus

    icarus Senior Member

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    It's a shame because it represents a steepening of the curve of what we need to do. As I have said, the longer we wait the harder it is going to be! If we wait another 10 years it will be harder still! The denial community doesn't have a plan "B" when they finally wake up and realize they were wrong! It is in my opinion,, unconscionable.
     
  4. mojo

    mojo Senior Member

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    Its natural.
    No ,its not caused by AGW.Its caused by the normal interglacial period we are in.
     
  5. tochatihu

    tochatihu Senior Member

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    For 400,000 years of glacials and interglacials, atmospheric methane concentrations ranged from 400 to 800 parts per billion. Now 1800 ppb.

    Trapping this and burning it to CO2 and energy sounds appealing but it is a diffuse source over a large area.
     
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  6. mojo

    mojo Senior Member

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    Cow farts or human farts raised the level?
    Lets see the source.
    Im flexible on the whole issue of AGW ,
    I just want to see proof and Im not happy with being lied to by omission, with Gore.

     
  7. mojo

    mojo Senior Member

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    And what the hell are you coming up with 400,000 years when ice core records are at minimum 1 million years ?
    I dont want to see selective periods that bolster your cause but are actually more lies of omission.
     
  8. fuzzy1

    fuzzy1 Senior Member

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    Why a 1 million year minimum? Do ice cores never occur in thinner deposits?

    "As of 2003, the longest core drilled was at Vostok station. It reached back 420,000 years and revealed 4 past glacial cycles. Drilling stopped just above Lake Vostock."

    A quick search finds a newer core going further back 740,000 years. Didn't say whether it has been sufficiently analyzed yet.
     
  9. richard schumacher

    richard schumacher shortbus driver

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    If this can't be slowed we're pretty much boned. At a minimum we have to stop burning coal within 20 years.
     
  10. mojo

    mojo Senior Member

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    Ok I take back the previous post.
    Whats the evidence?

     
  11. malorn

    malorn Senior Member

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    That is the basis for the entire AGW movement. Selective reportsing and adjusting data. Create a graph that makes the medieval warm period disappear? That is science?
     
  12. mojo

    mojo Senior Member

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    Nevermind ,I goofed
     

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  13. chogan2

    chogan2 Senior Member

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    I think a joint US/UK team looked at our side of the Arctic last summer. They went up there to map the areas where they thought methane might start leaking, over the next few decades. What they found was, there were already large methane plumes plainly visible on sonar. Completely unexpected. I think the consistent trend here is that those clathrate deposits appear to be a whole lot more unstable that most people thought they were. Let me see if I can find the reference.

    Here's one. It has the pretty picture, but not the back-story as I read elsewhere:

    As Arctic Ocean warms, megatonnes of methane bubble up - environment - 17 August 2009 - New Scientist

    [​IMG]

    The Japanese have tried mining the undersea clathrates, with limited success. Lots of problems, not a lot of solutions. Typical bed is just a few feet thick, as I understand it.

    This is a review that briefly mentions the Japanese project:

    Technology Review: Mining "Ice That Burns"

    The folks at Realclimate have repeatedly downplayed the potential for catastrophic methane releases from the clathrates (i.e., very large and rapid, essentially explosive, releases of gas, that is, an extinction event), or even the potential for runaway global warming from prolonged high rates of methane release from clathrates. But the last time they addressed this was in 2005.

    I think their bottom line, as with many researchers, is that the stuff at the bottom of the ocean will mostly be absorbed by ocean water and decomposed down to C02 in the ocean -- that little of the sea-bed clathrate deposits will make it into the air as methane. That's true of the plumes shown in the picture above -- there was no overt evidence on the surface. I'm hoping Realclimate will post an updated synthesis of the research this year.
     
  14. chogan2

    chogan2 Senior Member

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    Aw, yikes: So, like, where did the original graph showing a Northern Hemisphere Medieval Warm Period come from? What evidence was it based on? And why does the most modern research suggest the MWP was not as warm as it is today?

    Got no interest in any of that?

    Well, it's not like you'll believe anything I say anyway. Why not read it from Steve McIntyre himself, then:


    Where did IPCC 1990 Figure 7c Come From? Climate Audit

    Minus the snarky spin, the gist of the article is that the graph that most people refer to, when they say they they know the Medieval Warm Period existed, and that the IPCC fudged away, is in fact, based largely or entirely on a crude estimate of temperatures from central England, published in 1965.

    That graph went away because vastly better information is now available. Simple as that. Modern "hockey stick" temperature reconstructions show warming for the northern hemisphere (only) for that period -- just not as warm as today.

    So, when you say, in effect, "the IPCC no longer shows that old graph so its all a bunch of lies", what you're actually asserting, if we accept McIntyre's analysis on its face, is that Lamb's 1965 estimate of central England temperatures, based on heaven knows what, is a better proxy for northern hemisphere or global temperatures of that period, than the modern temperature reconstructions. It's not like Lamb had access to some super-secret data that the modern researchers couldn't get. To the contrary, modern researchers have vastly more information available to them than Lamb did. So that's a tough position to defend.

    A: Old, limited information, mostly based on England, one researcher:

    [​IMG]

    B: New, based on modern evidence, replicated by numerous researchers:

    [​IMG]


    I'm going with B.
     
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  15. Tom183

    Tom183 New Member

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    Even if that were true, wouldn't that also leave less capacity for ocean absorbsion of CO2 from other sources?
     
  16. chogan2

    chogan2 Senior Member

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    Yes, agreed. I don't want to dismiss that.

    But I think the main short-term concern is methane in the air.

    You'll see the figure that methane is 21x more efficient than C02 at trapping heat. But that 21x figure is the 100-year average, accounting for the fact that methane in the air slowly breaks down into C02. I think it was the Kyoto Protocol were everybody agreed to use 100 years as the standard for comparing GHGs.

    Here's "Global Warming Potential" for various time frames. For a 20-year time frame, methane is about 72x as powerful as C02, by weight:

    Global warming potential - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    I can't find a reference now, but I believe the one-year warming potential was about 100. In other words, fresh out-of-the-box methane is about 100x as potent as C02.

    Historically, over an ice age cycle, you'd have a thousands to tens of thousands of years for the methane in the arctic to seep out and break down, and for that resulting C02 to get re-sequestered by the biosphere in some way. Slow release, slow breakdown, no particular problem.

    The real fear is that if you let the methane out fast enough, into the atmosphere, you can get enough of a buildup that you'll drive the climate into a positive feedback that can't be stopped. All that fresh, high-potency methane, not breaking down fast enough. Certainly a theoretical possibility, the issue is whether it actually could happen, or how likely it is.

    I have not done the math to see whether the carbon from clathrates would matter relative to carbon in the ocean. Based on the Wikipedia entry, there's a lot of clathrate carbon around. Seems plausible, at least, that the ocean carbon loading from methane would be a problem.

    Here's the US EPA greenhouse gas inventory. Cattle, if you combine enteric fermentation (what gets incorrectly called cow farts, but is actually more like cow burps) plus manure fermentation, is the #1 source of US methane emissions by a fair margin, followed by landfills.

    Sources and Emissions | Methane | Climate Change | U.S. EPA
     
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  17. bisco

    bisco cookie crumbler

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    that's it! i'm trading in the prius for a tahoe. may as well go out with a bang!:eek:
     
  18. hyo silver

    hyo silver Awaaaaay

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    I was thinking of the Prius as the last wasteful hurrah. I can't carry nearly as much on the bike, but I'll do all the guerilla tree planting I can before I go. I'm sure there'll be enough abandoned rusting Tahoes around to turn into breakwaters. ;)

    Plus, I plan to let all the carnivores out of the zoos, mostly to help clean up all the rotting humans. I'm thinking the bigger, lazier ones will go first. :cool:
     
  19. tochatihu

    tochatihu Senior Member

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    About the glacial record, I do declare that some of you folks are a bit more contentious than might actually be required. If you don't wnat to look for the science, or if you believe it's all lies, I really have no help to offer.

    If you want to know what the ice cores say, you could start here:

    Methane and nitrous oxide in the ice core record ? Philosophical Transactions A

    As usual, if trouble getting access to the full paper, I can help.

    As far as identifying sources of the much more atmospheric methane we have now than in yon olden days, ruminant 'outgassing' is certainly a major part of it. Submerged rice clutivation also. Drying of wetlands in both cold and warm climates. Termites (a personal favorite because I study them). Not a complete list. Some of these sources could be controlled by more or less human investment and effort.

    But the high-latitude methane sources (on-shore and off) are worrying because with a certain level of temperature rise, they will increase. As they are so geographically diffuse, there is no obvious way to limit them. They are a potential positive feedback on earth energy balance among the most worryng, because it remains very difficult to estimate how large it could be in the future.
     
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  20. chogan2

    chogan2 Senior Member

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    "Recent isotopic data appear to finally rule out any major impact of clathrate releases on methane at these time-scales."

    So I guess, if history is a guide, then the views expressed at Realclimate are mainstream: We haven't seen massive release of clathrate methane in the recent (ice-core-history, few 100K years) past.

    I think I'm reassured by that.

    On the other hand, we're sailing into uncharted waters in terms of the rapidity and extent of the warming. Over an ice age, it was (say) 10 degrees in 100,000 years, or a degree per 10,000 years average. Now it's a degree per 100.

    For a time-dependent scenario like this -- where it matters that the release is rapid -- it's not clear that the failure to see rapid release in the past, in the context of slow warming, is that much comfort.

    I think it remains a concern. Hard to quantify, but still a concern.
     
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