Arctic Methane release likely to be trouble

A combined team of U.S. and Russian researchers has found that large amounts of methane are bubbling up from the subsea permafrost along the East Siberian Shelf. In their paper published in the journal Nature Geoscience, the team describes research they’ve conducted over several years. North of Russia lies the Arctic Ocean, over time, parts of it have been given different names—one of those the Laptev Sea, lies north of Siberia, and is bounded by peninsulas on both sides. The sea normally freezes in the winter and thaws in the summer, but the water remains so cold that the seafloor has, at least until recent years, remained frozen. The researchers in this latest effort have been monitoring the amount of methane released into the sea as the subsea permafrost melts in the summer.

Methane stored in sea floor

Methane stored in sea floor

The melting of the subsea permafrost in the Arctic Ocean can’t be blamed on modern humans—it’s been slowly warming down there for thousands of years—it’s just recently however, reached the point where it melts in the summer just enough to allow the methane gases to seep out and bubble up into the sea column above. The researchers have been seeing record levels of methane in the both seawater and permafrost core samples they’ve been collecting over the past several years (they also use sonar to measure the density of bubbles emanating into the seawater). Worse, they have found that methane levels drop dramatically during storms. This means, the researchers report, that all that methane in the seawater is whipped into the atmosphere, adding to the other greenhouse gasses that are contributing more to global warming.

The researchers note that their measurements contradict predictions by other “more dire” reports that a massive “pulse” of methane will very soon add as much as 50 billion tonnes of methane to the atmosphere, causing a dramatic spike in global air temperatures. Instead, they suggest, it appears more likely that the methane will continue to bubble up slowly, but increasingly contributing to greenhouse gases much as is happening currently. They do caution that it is possible the current warming could cause more or bigger storms in the Arctic Ocean, releasing methane on a bigger scale.

Methane increase

Methane increase

One of the many conservative voices of climate change is the IPCC who gathers information from leading scientist and reviews their research. The IPCC reports are prepared and then shared with politicians and then adjusted prior to publication. One such report published in 2009 about the Arctic ice decline stated ( and charts showed ) the summertime ice in the arctic would be gone by 2100. Updated reports not published by the IPCC, but shared by concerned scientists state very clearly that the summertime ice shelves will be gone by 2016. See the MOVIE about Climate Change here

Methane is a potent greenhouse gas and is highly flammable and toxic to breath. There are trillions of tons of methane stored within the Earths core and much of it lies beneath the permafrost under the Arctic sea ice and Greenland. Methane has and will continue to seep from the sea floor, but researchers have been finding increased rates of this gas since 2007. With the reduction of ice shelves and the warming of the poles (average warming at the poles is 6 degrees versus 1 degree for the rest of the planet) some are getting concerned for what appears to be more methane and co2 which will only contribute to further warming of the Globe.

John Callahan is committed to educating people on issues that affect their health and well-being.Learn more at reCALIBRATEYOURSELF.COM

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