Methane is already seeping from Arctic seabed

This is now no longer a potential threat, but a proven reality. As the Arctic warms, methane hydrates long frozen beneath the surface are beginning to melt. Is this the tipping point? Probably not. But it does indicate that the possibility is not science fiction scaremongering, but science fact. The BBC reports:

As temperatures rise, the sea-bed grows warmer and frozen water crystals in the sediment break down, allowing methane trapped inside them to escape.

The research team found that more than 250 plumes of methane bubbles are rising from the sea-bed off Norway.

Writing in Geophysical Research Letters, the team says the methane was rising from an area of sea-bed off West Spitsbergen, from depths between 150m and 400m.

So this new evidence shows that methane is stable at water depths greater than 400m off Spitsbergen.

However, data collected over 30 years shows it was then stable at water depths as shallow as 360m.

Methane bubbles observed by sonar, escape from sea-bed as temperatures rise

In our paper Getting There, we have come out in support of a 40% target by 2020, which still only gives us a 50/50 chance of keeping warming at or below 2 degrees, and atmospheric CO2 at 450 ppm.

What if this is simply not enough? The 350.org crowd very sensibly call for a return to 350 ppm, which is the CO2 range wherein humans have evolved and prospered.

21 thoughts on “Methane is already seeping from Arctic seabed

  1. Tipping Point may well be a subjective, geographical notion. Related to how far the Oceans rise – but a few feet will deal to some of the most expensive Real Estate around. ie Florida etc.
    That will change enough equations to start a ball rolling.

  2. Yeah i gotta red boat – it’s really cool eh?
    apropos of nothing else greenland and the Arctic are both waving goodbye, to Florida – trillions of US dollars gone!
    Safe to see serious chanmge when that happens.
    Would help you jh; to give a catastrophe a colour is fain weak.
    The Ashes are gone – whew –
    I’ll make millions from the TAB at 30-1.
    Will it make me Blue?
    Would it make You?
    I’m bettin’ the Gorilla will too.

  3. “Ms Bradford, the architect of the anti-smacking bill, admits the result is high but she says around 60 percent of the population has either not voted, has spoiled the ballot or voted “yes”; which she believes adds up to a majority on her side. She says it is hard to draw any conclusions from the referendum results because they were based on such a flawed question and says she would have more respect for it, if it had been based on a clearer question.”

    What does this do to Green credibility given that you try to maintain the scientific high – ground when it comes to climate change discussion?
    :mrgreen:

  4. And, in fact – those expensive seaside mansions all over the world may sink – i don’t like to think so – ah but the evidence….

  5. ‘tapping’ the ocean floor sure wrecks them whales eh? eh?
    Too bad we never worked out their many languages – mighta meant something…
    I woulda thought (and research extends the view) – that we have quite enough hot air on offer already
    Still whoar eh?
    Bugger the Planet, my toes are cold.

  6. wat dabney Says:
    August 22nd, 2009 at 3:02 pm

    “A vast new fuel reserve. This is great news.

    Your link links to this:
    “Peak energy: promise or peril?

    The notion that we’re running out of fossil fuel is gaining support in some unexpected quarters. But is peak energy good or bad news for the climate? Kurt Kleiner reports.
    Peak energy: promise or peril?

    Will we continue to use fossil fuels to the detriment of our planet and the human population.? Or can we clean up our act in time to avoid calamitous change? That’s the dilemma the world currently faces, yet in spite of efforts to transition to alterative energy sources, projections show that annual fossil fuel demand is likely to increase 45 per cent by 2030

  7. Well, it is probably better burned than released as CH4 which would have a heavier impact on the “greenhouse” effect in the near term.

    Wat… just how do you think these clathrates lying about at random in deep and inaccessible water are going to get harvested instead of bubbling up as the temperature of the ocean rises?? It is an engineering problem of sorts… because you have to find all the major deposits, bring up the solids from down below or put a lid on all of them to capture and burn the methane sequestering CO2 if possible.

    Optimists! One wonders what planet they come from.

    :-)

    BJ

  8. The problem is that a lot of people still take this as something not serious or unrelated to them. All they see are some figures or numbers that don’t mean anything. Of course, correction actions will only start once they feel the effect. While we still have a long way to go, nevertheless, we can can act now to make the difference. At least I know that I’m doing my part on going “green”.

  9. Wat… just how do you think these clathrates lying about at random in deep and inaccessible water are going to get harvested instead of bubbling up as the temperature of the ocean rises??

    super fast ships with polythene catchers will trap bubbles as they surface.

  10. ‘a vast new field reserve’
    Yeah I hear the gas is escaping through the Pole itself.
    Frog I’ve finally found a use for Trolls – we give ‘em this nozzle to fit over the South Pole and milk that Gas for export and Profit.
    Course the ice there is cracking so fast that they may not return,
    but sacrifices must be made.

  11. “we give ‘em this nozzle to fit over the South Pole and milk that Gas for export and Profit.
    Course the ice there is cracking so fast that they may not return,
    but sacrifices must be made.”

    or send dissenters to a Gulag like your Uncle Joe :wink:

  12. Thanks Kev – thought I was too old to quote Zevon (he’s dead you know).
    But one eventually fails to take Trolls seriously – the serious part is their main aim is to frustrate any constructive conversation – must have minds like a goat’s stomach – but it’s Sunday – lets not go there.
    Keep up the Great Work!

  13. JH; No – send wreckers to a Party they Want To Support – we have our own Gulags in NZ as I’m sure you know…..a slow death sentence we call ‘imprisonment’.
    Cos there are no Votes in supporting the Marginalised they have been allowed to fall back into the 16th century.
    Any person of conscience needs to stand up against this – how do you stand?
    As a Green supporter I welcome diverse points of view and would never condemn someone for Ideals that do not Harm.
    However Ignorance is a Crime itself hey?

  14. Oh my god, I cannot believe we have reached this point and already having to experience the tipping point. This is so sad and tragic that these happenings are all because of humans actions. The modernization and technological improvements have made this world into a trash can, and this is what it had come to. We are losing our beautiful natural world just because of our need for more and more electrical based things.

  15. Global warming, has never seems like a joke for me, but I guess I always had a secret wish that this will be resolved somehow, someday. But now I realize it may be too late. The absurd is that the big castles of rich people around the sea sides will be the first to sink… Is that nature’s way of punishing us? Attack the ones that symbolize advancements and money making off nature? It is so sad, and I wish that people will act fast to try and stop, or at least decrease the horrible things that are bound to happen to our beautiful earth. The result of our actions is this horrible weather, the disappearance of forests, the disappearance of animals from above this planet, and now- our land is going to be covered by sea

  16. Who knows, maybe one day, what people say will happen, will be true, and whole countries will vanish from our sight. We have to act! Your target is very good, and even though it is only 50-50 chance that earth will be saved- it is still something, and you have to continue with it! Attract as many people as you possibly can to join and support this battle on our planet- We simply have to succeed. I mean, we ruined it, so it is only our responsibility to help it return to a good enough condition.

  17. I think that our governments level of emmision cuts at 10 to 20% are absolutely pathetic!!!!!

    Germany is once again the leading in the right direction!!!!!!!

  18. That’s ridiculous. Even if the plumes were concentrated enough to be harvested, the last thing the climate needs now is more fossil fuels

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