Thursday, September 10, 2015

Methane Warning from the Arctic!

The Royal Society has commissioned a study performed by the now well-known husband and wife team from Russia, Natasha Shakhova and Igor Semiletov, concerning the outgassing of methane (CH4) from the East Siberian Sea Continental Shelf (ESS), which is essentially frozen tundra that drowned when the glaciers receded about 10,000 years ago and since then. There are about 1,600 billion (that's a b) tons (GT) of CH4 frozen in hydrates.

Now that the Arctic is getting warmer, the marine ice cap is suffering a catastrophic collapse to the fifth or sixth smallest sea ice area on record, warm waters from the Atlantic and Pacific are sneaking in and storms are churning the near-shore Arctic seas from surface to bottom, methane is escaping from the Arctic Seafloor at an increasing rate, particularly at the ESS area. Previously Shakhova and Semiletov stated that 50 GT of CH4 could escape at any time.

Natasha Shakhova on Methane Hydrates.

And what the Royal Society study has to say is that the Risk of Significant Methane Release from [the] East Siberian Arctic Shelf [is] Still Growing.

From Robertscribbler:

Large plumes of methane bubbling up from the Arctic Ocean sea-bed, saturating the water column, venting into the air, adding significantly more heat forcing to an already dangerous, fossil fuel-based, accumulation of greenhouse gasses in the Earth’s atmosphere. It’s a nightmare scenario. One in which human-forced warming, already at 1 C above 1880s levels, is further amplified through the feedback release of ancient carbon stored over the past 8 million years of Northern Hemisphere glaciation. And a recent study by the now famous Semiletov and Shakhova team provides still more reason for appropriate concern that such an event may be in the works.

Shakhova and Semiletov’s new study produces an increasingly clear picture of a destabilizing organic carbon store beneath thawing permafrost in the East Siberian Arctic Shelf region. The above images show organic carbon concentration [left frame] and rate of release of methane in grams per square meter per day over observed regions.

By now, many of us are familiar with the controversy over the potential risks of significant-to-catastrophic methane release due to human-forced warming of the Arctic.  An increasing number of observational specialists are pointing toward a risk that rapid human warming will set off the release of still more carbon in the Arctic. For some, this release is expected to be gradual. Others believe there’s enough risk of a rapid release to warrant an equally rapid emergency response.
But regardless of where you stand on the issue, new research coming to light from some of the Arctic’s top observational scientists more clearly describes what appears to be an increasingly dangerous situation.
Increasingly dangerous is right! The present CH4 overburden is about 1846 ppb (1.85 ppm) which equates to about 5 GT of methane in the atmosphere. An addition of 50 GT of this stuff would add about 18.5 ppm for a grand total of 20.4 ppm of CH4. At 25 times the heat-trapping efficacy of CO2 over the lifetime of methane in the air would yield an equivalent of 510 ppm CO2 E, increasing the global mean temperature by 3 degrees C quite quickly, to about 4 deg C above 1880s values.

Well at least a PB study is suggesting we are nearing peak oil demand. But it might not save us from Hell on Earth! This could be one of those situations where Peak Oil really is no object.

Fin des Voies Rapides, certainement!


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