Quote of the Week – the climbdown on methane and climate change

There’s been a lot of worry-buzz in the usual circles over methane plumes bubbling up in the Arctic related to this NSF press release:

Press Release 10-036
Methane Releases From Arctic Shelf May Be Much Larger and Faster Than Anticipated

Thawing by climate change of subsea layer of permafrost may release stores of underlying, seabed methane

Illustration showing leakage of methane from the East Siberian Arctic Shelf.

The permafrost of the East Siberian Arctic Shelf (an area of about 2 million kilometers squared) is more porous than previously thought. The ocean on top of it and the heat from the mantle below it warm it and make it perforated like Swiss cheese. This allows methane gas stored under it under pressure to burst into the atmosphere. The amount leaking from this locale is comparable to all the methane from the rest of the world’s oceans put together. Methane is a greenhouse gas more than 30 times more potent than carbon dioxide.

Credit: Zina Deretsky, National Science Foundation

To his credit, Andrew Revkin of the New York Times inquired with the field researchers on the methane bubbles. He writes:

Shakhova and Semiletov, whose earlier analysis of methane in the region was published in Science last year, had been unavailable for comment when I was preparing my piece, as they had gone on vacation shortly after their presentation. When they were back on the grid they got my e-mail inquiries and saw the post. Their response clarifies their differences with other research groups and emphasizes the importance of critically evaluating scientific findings before rushing to conclusions, either alarming or reassuring. One clear message, which I endorse, is the need to sustain the kind of fieldwork they’re doing.

The reply from Semiletov and Shakhova is enlightening and is the QOTW:

We would first note that we have never stated that the reason for the currently observed methane emissions were due to recent climate change.

In fact, we explained in detail the mechanism of subsea permafrost destabilization as a result of inundation with seawater thousands of years ago.

We have been working in this scientific field and this region for a decade. We understand its complexity more than anyone.  And like most scientists in our field, we have to deal with slowly improving understanding of ongoing processes that often incorporates different points of views expressed by different groups of researchers.

Do you think Joltin Joe Romm, who agreed with the story by Gillis (but panned Revkin’s story then) before the clarification…

Carbon Time Bomb in the Arctic: New York Times Print Edition Gets the Story Right

Writing:

The NYT would seem to be schizophrenic on this crucial topic, but Gillis clearly has the story right and it isn’t reassuring at all.

…will carry now this clarification? It seems schizophrenic interpretations my not be NYT’s fault at all, especially since the field researchers have clarified on record that they don’t see “climate change” to be involved at all.

Don’t hold your breath.

Kudos to Andrew Revkin for doing actual journalism and going straight to the source.

Of course the bigger problem than Joltin Joe Romm are the non thinking serial media and blog regurgitators. Perhaps WUWT readers can advise them of the correction.

‘Fountains’ of methane 1000m across erupt from Arctic ice – a greenhouse gas

Daily Mail – ‎Dec 13, 2011‎
The Russian research vessel Academician Lavrentiev conducted a survey of 10000 square miles of sea off the coast of eastern Siberia. They made a terrifying discovery – huge plumes of methane bubbles rising to the surface from the seabed.

Rapid rise in Arctic methane shocks scientists

New Zealand Herald – ‎Dec 13, 2011‎
By Steve Connor Dramatic and unprecedented plumes of methane – a greenhouse gas 20 times more potent than carbon dioxide – have been seen bubbling to the surface of the Arctic Ocean by scientists undertaking an extensive survey of the region.

Scientists Discover Giant Methane Plume in Arctic Ocean

Kozmedia News – ‎Dec 15, 2011‎
By Robert Williams on Dec 15, 2011 | Filed Under Science | 0 comments Russian scientists have discovered hundreds of plumes of methane gas, some 1000 meters in diameter, bubbling to the surface of the Arctic Ocean. Scientists are concerned that as the

Scientists worry about giant plumes of methane in Arctic Ocean

DigitalJournal.com – ‎Dec 14, 2011‎
By JohnThomas Didymus By JohnThomas Didymus. Scientists are worried about methane bubbling to the surface of the Arctic Ocean. The thawing of the Arctic as temperatures rise is releasing methane in the seabed. Scientists say high levels of the gas in

Giant plumes of methane bubbling to surface of Arctic Ocean

Updated News – ‎Dec 14, 2011‎
Russian scientists have discovered hundreds of plumes of methane gas, some 1000 meters in diameter, bubbling to the surface of the Arctic Ocean. Scientists are concerned that as the Arctic Shelf recedes, the unprecedented levels of gas released could

Chilling discovery: Arctic ice releases deadly greenhouse gas

People’s World – ‎Dec 14, 2011‎
Methane, a greenhouse gas 20 times more powerful than carbon dioxide, has been found by scientists in deadly, bubbling plumes on the surface of the Arctic Ocean. The scientists, who were undertaking an extensive survey of the area, were utterly

Where am I? > Home > Climate > Vast Stores of Methane Are Rel…

Environmental News Network – ‎Dec 14, 2011‎
Deep under the icy waters of the Arctic, Russian scientists have discovered vast stores of methane, the potent greenhouse gas, far worse than CO2. The scientists sampled the waters along the East Siberian Arctic Shelf, and discovered that the methane

Methane in the Arctic: The end of the world, or what?

Grist Magazine – ‎Dec 14, 2011‎
by Christopher Mims The scale and volume of the methane release has astonished the head of the Russian research team who has been surveying the seabed of the East Siberian Arctic Shelf off northern Russia for nearly 20 years.

Unprecedented Methane Plumes Bubbling in The Arctic

SustainableBusiness.com – ‎Dec 15, 2011‎
Dramatic, unprecedented plumes of methane – a greenhouse gas 20 times more potent than carbon dioxide – are bubbling to the surface of the Arctic Ocean near Russia, reports UK’s The Independent. Scientists who have been studying the area for nearly 20

===============================================================

Update: In case you are wondering what CH4 concentration in the atmosphere looks like, here’s the latest data from NOAA:

The Y axis is Parts Per Billion (PPB) Plot visualizer here. Data here. I noted back in 2006 that CH4 had stabilized, now it is slightly rising again.

Bill Illis in comments adds the Barrow, AK monitoring site in the “permafrost zone … and it is right next to the frozen permafrost/frozen methane beds of the high Arctic.”  and notes it is “pretty well flat right now”.

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104 thoughts on “Quote of the Week – the climbdown on methane and climate change

  1. Can we capture the methane?

    Joltin Joe Romm…I thought he was Joe EnRomm…I get so confused sometimes…

    When I google “Joe Romm” I see him referred to by both names…so I guess as Bill Murray said in Meatballs…”It just doesn’t matter!”

  2. Sorry to disappoint you, but certainly the Daily Mail is not interested in accuracy, only in playing to a public which thrives on bad news. Pointing out the clarification would be a waste of time. I suspect the same applies to most of the others listed, and as for the Guardian (The Moonbat column) or the BBC, well, forget it.

  3. The Romman Scientific Method: Only agree with scientists or writers who say what you want them to say, and ignore, dismiss, and/or smear all others.

    These scientists obviously work for Big Oil or perhaps Big Cow.

  4. Revkin says: “One clear message, which I endorse, is the need to sustain the kind of fieldwork they’re doing.”

    Revkin says send more money.

  5. mkelly
    I’ll happily see my taxes spent on something that looks like genuine research giving us a clear picture of what can actually be attributed to global warming and what can’t.
    Revkin is right and as Anthony says, kudos to him for going to the source and getting the right story rather than the headline-grabbing one.

  6. Andrew says:
    December 27, 2011 at 12:01 pm

    Can we capture the methane?

    They are capturing natural methane seeps (and oil seeps, too) off the coast of California (Coal Oil Point, near Santa Barbara). It is some sort of contraption that looks something like an inverted funnel that is placed over the seep. Many seeps that are not economically viable are simply left alone. The irony is that if we allowed renewed drilling in that area, it would reduce the amount of oil and gas seeping into the environment.

  7. Since CH4 is a stronger GHG than CO2, perhaps they should consider a method to Trap the CH4 and then Burn it like they do with Natural Gas to produce Electricity. This would provide electricity, remove the CH4 from the environment and produce CO2 for plants (and Carbonated Sodas)

  8. I’ll bet the family farm that if you suggested that drilling Rigs be sent there immediately to harvest the methane there would be howls of aguished protest!

  9. If the ‘bubbling methane’ is 30 times more potent than CO2 then think of how great it would be to capture the methane and burn it to reduce the greenhouse gas effect in the atmosphere by a factor of 30. That would be a factor of 3000% and while burning it maybe we could generate some electricity. But by all means it must be burned to save the world!

    Could giant cucumbers be erupting causing this?

  10. Also this story was carefully placed in Warmist publications like the UK Guardian, just after the ignominious failure of Durban – presumably to reassure the Faithful that despite everyone’s nonchalence about Global Warming we are in fact, DOOMED!

  11. mkelly,

    There is nothing wrong with funding research, including research that looks into human impacts to climate. The problem comes in when determination of who and what gets funded gets overly politicized.

  12. Al Gored says:
    December 27, 2011 at 12:06 pm “The Romman [sic]Scientific Method:”

    AG, the correct spelling is “Rommann”

  13. I didn’t realize we had a “potentcy” rating for greenhouse gases – I’m guessing it must be related to specific heat. – so at 300k methane has a specific heat which is ~ 20% more than water vapour.

    The kicker these alarmists never mention is that, no matter what, the effect greenhouse gases “impose” on climate must be proportional to their concentration.

    Water vapour varies up to ~ 2% – 20,000 ppm volume
    CO2 is approximately 0.04 % – less than 400 ppm
    Methane is approximately 0.00018 % – 1870 ppb or 1.870 ppm.

    The effect these things have is nothing more than trace. The IR from any of them couldn’t be measured compared to the IR coming from the rest of the atmosphere which IS emitting IR because it is heated and all heated things emit radiation characterized by the temperature.

    So beware these “20 times more potent” little thingies.

  14. Naturally venting methane could be a big new energy source !!!

    Might be less environmentally disruptive than fracking ( which itself doesn’t seem to be disruptive)
    and very environmentally beneficial compared to allowing the methane to enter the atmosphere (if one accepts the AGW theory in the first place).

    In fact, wouldn’t the harvesting and burning of naturally venting methane offset the imagined effects of human CO2 emissions ?

  15. I am getting the hang of this. It is only worse when they say so. Otherwise it “could” be worse in the future…way in the future…under scenario d or maybe e..

  16. eyesonu says:
    December 27, 2011 at 12:40 pm
    Could giant cucumbers be erupting causing this?
    _____________________________
    Giant sea cucumbers… after having been featured on “The Food Channel”.

  17. “The permafrost of the East Siberian Arctic Shelf (an area of about 2 million kilometers squared) is more porous than previously thought.”

    Is this in a NEWSpaper? It was all worse than we thought as far back as 2007, ffs!

  18. Methane levels are not increasing. CO2 is going up, but Methane is not.

    This is just the latest for the pro-AGW set to get all emotional about – the apocalypse is coming after all.

    I can say that because not one of the two dozen stories about this in the past few weeks has made note of the current flat trends in Methane concentrations.

  19. Rosco says: “I didn’t realize we had a “potentcy” rating for greenhouse gases – I’m guessing it must be related to specific heat….”

    Why are you guessing? If you don’t know, use a search engine to find out the facts before you comment. It’s not hard.

  20. @ crosspatch and Stephen Wilde

    I maybe wrong, but I seem to recall reading something about large amounts of methane, in the form of ice, just sitting at the bottom of the ocean. I mean if Howard Hughes can ‘extract Manganese nodules’ from the bottom of the sea in the 1970’s, I would think we could figure out away to pick up a few chunks of ice…

    …and yes, I do know it was a bit more involved than that.

    Also, it would only make economic ‘cents’ if the cost of capture is less than other sources of methane.

  21. Bill Illis says: December 27, 2011 at 1:59 pm: Methane levels are not increasing. CO2 is going up, but Methane is not.

    Mauna Loa and CSIRO say yes, just a little.

  22. Acid rain suppresses the evolution of methane from melting Arctic soil. We have reduced the fall out of acid rain. The rate of methane efflux can be expected to fall as the effects of acid rain wear off.

    JF

  23. Rosco says:
    December 27, 2011 at 1:00 pm
    “I didn’t realize we had a “potentcy” rating for greenhouse gases – I’m guessing it must be related to specific heat. – so at 300k methane has a specific heat which is ~ 20% more than water vapour.”

    Has to do with how saturated the absorption band of that gas already is, in the case of Methane, not saturated, and with how broad it is.

    “The kicker these alarmists never mention is that, no matter what, the effect greenhouse gases “impose” on climate must be proportional to their concentration.”

    It’s more harmless than that; it’s logarithmic.

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2009/07/15/9373/

  24. The statement, “methane – a greenhouse gas 20 times more potent than carbon dioxide” is a real distortion of what is actually happened. Both gasses absorb infrared radiation over specific but different ranges of wave lengths, based on the vibratory frequencies of their molecular bonds. At 380 parts per million, CO2 absorbs most of the radiation in its frequency range, there is very little radiation for additonal CO2 to absorb. Methane, at 187 parts per billion absorbs a lot more radiation, 20 times more for each addional unit of methane, than does carbon dioxide simply because there is more radiation in that wave length range. It has nothing to do with methane’s potency. This has a lot to say about saturation of CO2’s radiation range and the impact of additonal CO2 in the atmosphere.

  25. If all this Methane is now driving Global Warming, is there any temperature rise left over to be caused by Carbon Dioxide???

  26. Hardly surprising people do not know too much about methane when the “New Scientist” (so called) refers to:

    But methane is also a greenhouse gas, second in importance to carbon dioxide. Like carbon dioxide, it traps infrared radiation …

    How about the most potent greenhouse gas of them all – gaseous water? Even Wiki understands this!

    Methane is removed from the atmosphere by reaction with oxygen. Which is why it reaches a plateau the height of which depends on the rate of transport of methane into the atmosphere.

  27. Luther Wu says:
    December 27, 2011 at 1:21 pm

    eyesonu says:
    December 27, 2011 at 12:40 pm
    Could giant cucumbers be erupting causing this?
    _____________________________
    Giant sea cucumbers… after having been featured on “The Food Channel”.
    ——————————————————————————————————————–
    Would that be these cucumbers?

    http://urila.tripod.com/Gulliver.htm

  28. Barrow Alaska is a better measuring site for CH4/Methane because its trends are higher than anywhere else in the world (1900 ppb vs 1800 ppb at Mauna Loa), its trends lead the world (Barrow’s up and downs are ahead of the rest of the world), it has a greater seasonal cycle (indicating it has greater sinks and sources of Methane) …

    … and it is right next to the frozen permafrost/frozen methane beds of the high Arctic.

    It is pretty well flat right now.

  29. I am not up on all of the science stuff, but, it seems that much of this research misses some very vital clues.

    Methane is most definitely underground!! It is present in a lot of coal mines. The combination of methane and coal dust can be very tragic.

    Perhaps there is something missing in the research?

  30. So let me try to quantify things. Over the last 15 years, the CO2 concentration went up about 25 ppm while that is CH4 went up about 0.05 ppm. So the CO2 increased by 500 times the amount of CH4. But since the CH4 has a potency that is 20 times stronger than CO2, its overall affect is about 4% as much as CO2. According to RSS, the last 14 years and 9 months give a negative slope and according to Hadcrut3, the last 14 years and 7 months give a negative slope. So the net effect of the added CO2 over the last 15 years according to these two data sets is about 0. And since the effect of the added CH4 is 4% of 0, it also gives 0.

    REPLY: Don’t sugar coat it, we can take it – Anthony

  31. Being 30 times more potent than CO2 makes methane sound as though its absorption bands are in the middle of the H2O transmission windows. But in fact the CH4 absorption bands are pretty narrow and sit on the flank of H2O absorption bands. So, it isn’t as though CH4 is all that potent, but rather CO2 is remarkably impotent.

  32. I see that I said 30 times more potent, and should have said 20 times. Also bkindseth said somewhat the same thing I did back up-thread a ways.

  33. Bill Illis says:
    December 27, 2011 at 2:46 pm
    “Barrow Alaska is a better measuring site for CH4/Methane because its trends are higher than anywhere else in the world (1900 ppb vs 1800 ppb at Mauna Loa), ”

    When you’re of the Hansen School of taking measurements, yes.

  34. Bryan A says:
    December 27, 2011 at 12:33 pm

    Since CH4 is a stronger GHG than CO2, perhaps they should consider a method to Trap the CH4 and then Burn it like they do with Natural Gas to produce Electricity. This would provide electricity, remove the CH4 from the environment and produce CO2 for plants (and Carbonated Sodas)

    and eyesonu and bkindsmith;
    The absorption spectrum of methane is actually very small. The ’20X’ figure is a fudge arrived at by extrapolating what the impact of the resultant 1xCO2 and 2xH2O molecules would be if the CH4 were burned. Which is not what happens to it chemically in the atmosphere.

  35. OK, now look at Reed Coray’s article from a couple of days ago. I can believe that methane is 30 times as potent as CO2 on a per ppmv basis but there just isn’t much of it.
    Now look at where its absorption bands are. It is overlapped by water vapor. Oxygen and ozone seems to be almost as good an absorber and you can see this in the transmission chart and this right in the maximum emission bands. Free oxygen is of course a continuing thing only because of biology. Damn those blue green algae for causing emissions of greenhouse gases!
    It seems obvious to me that about the ONLY overwhelmingly important IR absorbing gas in the atmosphere is water vapor. Add in the effects of clouds and the convective heat pipe effect of tall clouds and I doubt that all the other greenhouse gases including CO2 and methane are any more than rounding errrors.

  36. The original story showing support for climate apocalypse may be false, but it is too important to the believers to dismiss just because it is not true. AGW does not depend on accurate truthful stores to keep the public money flowing. It depends on selling fear.

  37. The absorption spectrum of methane is actually very small. The ’20X’ figure is a fudge arrived at by extrapolating what the impact of the resultant 1xCO2 and 2xH2O molecules would be if the CH4 were burned. Which is not what happens to it chemically in the atmosphere.

    What the hell does happen to it then? It exists in tiny quantities, suggesting that it has a pretty short dwell time. That suggests it burns pretty quickly. (“Burned” here being any reaction with oxygen, whether in a fire or not.) I really can’t see any other pathway for an otherwise relatively stable molecule like that, short of absorption by some plant or microbe.

  38. Does the methane drown those polar bears when it bubbles up like some say is the cause of ship sinkings in the Bermuda triangle? If so, we better act fast to save them before they are all gone. ALAS, so many things to worry about.

  39. Two million kilometers squared is one incredibly GINORMOUS area!

    Yes it made me chuckle too. Scientific illiterates writing science reports: what could go wrong?

    I presume mean 2,000,000 square kilometres is meant. About 0.4% of the earth’s surface.

  40. ok here are some questions from a non-scientist. When I hear the words “methane gas” I would automatically think of bovines and their gas emissions :). However, at the same time I would think of natural gas.

    Let me see if I can get any of this straight because it seems to me that “the consensus science” is only guessing about what they allege to be dangerous. I seem to be getting a picture that perhaps if we do not harness things like methane as natural gas then yes we could cause future problems.

    First of all, methane gas is present in many coal mines. Its presence is extremely dangerous in an underground coal mine. The disaster in New Zealand last year is directly attributable to methane gas and coal dust mixing together.

    Second, methane gas is known to be present where there are oil wells at sea. In fact in Victoria Australia, there are wells off Westernport Bay where Natural Gas is extracted. Now this leads to the oil well explosion last year in the Gulf of Mexico. The methane gas had a role in that explosion, correct?

    Third, methane gas is also present when a volcano erupts. Correct?

    Fourth, methane gas is also present at places such as Rotorura where there are natural hot springs (they are stinky springs and reek of sulphur).

    Considering the sources of methane gas available, why are we not harnessing this gas to ensure a cheap energy source?

    Now when it comes to coal, it seems that I remember from my school days that the source for coal is in fact trees that lived millions of years ago. This is also the source for diamonds and the source for oil. in other words those dead trees eventually become coal, oil and diamonds but it takes millions of years to change. There is a cycle going on but do we really understand that cycle? Do the “climate scientists” actually understand the cycle? Why do they keep claiming that something that is such a minute part of the atmosphere to be dangerous?

    How can we say with any certainty that the air we breathe out is affecting our climate when there are so many other factors that have a role to play?

  41. crosspatch says:
    December 27, 2011 at 12:32 pm

    Andrew says:
    December 27, 2011 at 12:01 pm

    Can we capture the methane?

    They are capturing natural methane seeps (and oil seeps, too) off the coast of California (Coal Oil Point, near Santa Barbara).

    ========

    Well, yes. The concern is that Methyl Clathrates are not especially stable solids that decompose into water and methane. We don’t know exactly how much of the stuff there is in the cold oceans. We think that there is less than we thought were present when we first discovered the stuff a few decades ago. But there still could be vast amounts. Maybe to to ten times the conventional natural gas reserves of the planet. From the point of view of meeting future energy demands, they are a plus. Unfortunately methane is a very effective greenhouse gas and even if one thinks that the danger of CO2 is overstated, it’s still possible to be genuinely concerned about the GHG effects of methane from clathrates. We’d really like the stuff to stay solid until we need the gas. And most of it probably will.

    This really isn’t routine alarmist science fantasy. There genuinely could be a problem. Could be a problem, not IS a problem. We’re probably a long way from “the clathrates are decomposing and we’re all gonna die” See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Methane_clathrate

  42. I somehow misread crosspatch’s post. He was asking if we can capture the escaping methane. Probably. Much of it anyway. Problem is that the places where it is escaping are a long way from customers. Likely, we’d end up with a lot of expensive natural gas in regions where there is currently no way to get the stuff to market. Let’s hope that the volume of gas escaping is small enough to ignore it for a few decades until economics make capture and shipping to civilization attractive. (The Russians currently flare off a fair amount of gas from Arctic oil wells because it is not cost effective to bring it to market. I believe that the US currently pumps natural gas from oil wells on the North Slope back into the wells for the same reason).

  43. Andrew says:
    December 27, 2011 at 2:03 pm

    The problem with attempting to recover methane hydrates is that they tend to be very unstable and can suddenly “flash” to gas causing a huge sudden increase in volume that can be hard to contain. In fact, these methane hydrates are what likely caused the Deepwater Horizon blowout and made it difficult to contain the well after blowout. The structures placed over the wellhead to capture the methane filled with methane hydrate slush which clogged it. The sudden vaporization of hydrates is thought to have caused the massive surge of gas that caused the problem in the first place.

    This stuff is right on the edge of its existence in many locations. Warm it a little or jostle it, and it suddenly flashes to gas. The change in volume is enormous and would be like trying to contain an explosion (literally, they do literally vaporize explosively, just without combustion, it is a phase change from solid to gas that does it).

    Mining that stuff in solid form is a delicate operation and it must be carefully controlled in both temperature and pressure. It is also thought that the release of this sort of methane could be one cause of why we come out of ice ages so quickly. If you drop the sea level some 400 feet, it might make some deposits that are currently stable very unstable. I little jostle by an earthquake and boom, you get a large, explosive release of methane.

  44. One of the silliest exaggerations I have ever seen and a classic example of why the MSM cannot be trusted to tell the truth or even know fact from fiction. Everyone of these stories conflated a natural gas field with tundra carbon storage. Because people would celebrate the discovery of an easily recoverable field.

  45. “Likely, we’d end up with a lot of expensive natural gas in regions where there is currently no way to get the stuff to market.”

    If methane is 30x the GHE of CO2 then they could just capture and flare it in situ for a 30x reduction in GHE as someone else mentioned above. That, of course, supposes that GHE is really a problem. Methane in the atmosphere will eventually react anyway.

  46. “The reply from Semiletov and Shakhova is enlightening and is the QOTW:

    In fact, we explained in detail the mechanism of subsea permafrost destabilization as a result of inundation with seawater thousands of years ago.

    We have been working in this scientific field and this region for a decade. We understand its complexity more than anyone. And like most scientists in our field, we have to deal with slowly improving understanding of ongoing processes that often incorporates different points of views expressed by different groups of researchers.”

    As well it should be. Semiletov and Shakhova express themselves in language worthy of scientists. Consider the following:

    “we explained in detail the mechanism”
    You will never hear or see such words from Warmists because they know of no Mechanisms and consequently have nothing to Explain. Oh, by the way, Explain is what scientists do.

    “We understand its complexity”
    Our physical hypotheses embody its complexity and by reference to those hypotheses we can explain the compexity.

    “slowly improving understanding of ongoing processes”
    We are putting together physical hypotheses that explain and describe the natural Processes that we are studying. Incredible, they refer to natural processes. You will never find a Warmist doing that. Warmists believe only in data points combined with novel statistics or they believe in simulations.

    We are working on a scientific that “incorporates different points of views expressed by different groups of researchers.”
    Once again, no Warmist has ever met a different point of view that he would acknowledge.

    I nominate this “Quote of the Week” as best ever “Quote of the Week.”

  47. Not a scientists so I have a great deal of difficulty sometimes in getting this old wombats head around some of the things being discussed but I do conduct limited research into those things I find I need to via Google.

    What none of these warmista news stories ever tell you is that methane breaks down over a period of years, variably 8 to 12 years depending on whatever sources I can find with Google. So it is a nartural cycle. What is released to today is breaking down in 8 years (minimum?). So is it the net effect what they are babbling about? More being released than is breaking down naturally?

    Also has anyone done any research on the amount of methane consumed by lighting?

  48. View from the Solent says: December 27, 2011 at 2:43 pm

    Luther Wu says: December 27, 2011 at 1:21 pm

    eyesonu says: December 27, 2011 at 12:40 pm
    Could giant cucumbers be erupting causing this?
    _____________________________
    Giant sea cucumbers… after having been featured on “The Food Channel”.
    ——————————————————————————————————————–
    Would that be these cucumbers?

    http://urila.tripod.com/Gulliver.htm

    —————————————————————-
    It’s Worse Than We Thought™! Now it’s Sea Cucumber farts?!? I thought we were all supposed to die from bovine flatulence?

  49. Press Release 10-036
    Methane Releases From Arctic Shelf May Be Much Larger and Faster Than Anticipated

    Copied from the original post:
    “Methane is a greenhouse gas more than 30 times more potent than carbon dioxide.”

    =========================

    It doesn’t say anything about being burned. I don’t know where the ’20 times’ factor comes from that is mentioned here.

  50. With regards to my post above regarding the press release by the National Science Foundation, I followed the WUWT title link which directed me to the NSF. It clearly states “30 times more potent than carbon dioxide”.

    Let’s not try to rewrite history while it’s still active. The press release absolutely does not make any reference relating to methane being burned to achieve this ratio. Get real while you are in public.

  51. I read an article sometime over the past couple of weeks referring to leaking / escaping methane into the atmosphere from piping and drilling operations as needing to be addressed. How will this press release reflect on that? Another of the ‘gang green arms’ having gangrene?

  52. eyesonu: I think you missed the point. The point is that if methane is 30 times worse than CO2, burning the methane, by definition, would result in a 30x reduction in the greenhouse effect from methane.

  53. Bill Illis says:
    December 27, 2011 at 1:59 pm
    Methane levels are not increasing. CO2 is going up, but Methane is not.

    This is just the latest for the pro-AGW set to get all emotional about – the apocalypse is coming after all.

    I can say that because not one of the two dozen stories about this in the past few weeks has made note of the current flat trends in Methane concentrations.
    ————-
    Sure Bill.

    Anthony presents two graphs. My lying eyes say its been increasing since 1985, plateaued for 5 years, and is now trending up again for the last 5 years. It’s gone up overall by 10% since 85.

    So Bill, what kind of hippy juice are you on? And if it keeps on trending up when are you going to start waffling and hand waving about natural cycles to hide your errors.

  54. So we go from CO2, to acidic oceans, to methane, etc. … At what point does the populace become jaded by the “cry wolf” syndrome. Has anyone done a study to determine the length of time for the average joe to catch on to false alarms versus the nature (length/duraction) of the message in the false alarm? It might give us an approximation for how much longer we have to endure all this nonsense. And then there is the potential backlash should a real natural problem develop and the populace fails to take heed.

  55. Roy Jones says:
    December 27, 2011 at 2:30 pm
    If all this Methane is now driving Global Warming, is there any temperature rise left over to be caused by Carbon Dioxide???
    —————–
    No one is claiming that.

    Somewhere there is a breakdown of the contribution each greenhouse gas. If memory serves the “other” gases, which includes methane, contributes about 10%.

    But that is now. The worry is the future, potential amounts of methane that is tied up in permafrost and shallow seas around the warming arctic.

    If you want to pull some fantasy out of the air that you know for sure that this methane can’t possibly be a problem, feel free to dream away.

    The only positive things about this is that it is a good potential fuel. And methane does not last very long in the atmosphere since it is oxidized to CO2.

    And we don’t know for sure if thevrecently observed Methane ocean plumes are new or old and long term.

  56. @ crosspatch says:
    December 27, 2011 at 5:48 pm

    Actually I made the point in my first comment. I was referring to Brian H but failed to provide link / acknowledgement to his post. My lazy. I think we are all on the same page here. :-)
    Below is post I was replying to and I may have misinterpeted that to some degree:

    Brian H says:
    December 27, 2011 at 3:26 pm
    Bryan A says:
    December 27, 2011 at 12:33 pm

    Since CH4 is a stronger GHG than CO2, perhaps they should consider a method to Trap the CH4 and then Burn it like they do with Natural Gas to produce Electricity. This would provide electricity, remove the CH4 from the environment and produce CO2 for plants (and Carbonated Sodas)

    and eyesonu and bkindsmith;
    The absorption spectrum of methane is actually very small. The ’20X’ figure is a fudge arrived at by extrapolating what the impact of the resultant 1xCO2 and 2xH2O molecules would be if the CH4 were burned. Which is not what happens to it chemically in the atmosphere.

  57. Bekindseth says
    At 380 parts per million, CO2 absorbs most of the radiation in its frequency range, there is very little radiation for additonal CO2 to absorb.
    ————-
    That’s basically true but it ignores 2 important facts.
    1. The CO2 absorption band is not rectangular. My eyeball says about a third of the absorption band is NOT saturated.
    2. The atmosphere is NOT uniform in density with height. So the CO2 absorption band is less saturated at high altitudes. At high altitudes the outgoing energy transfer becomes dominated by radiation, so the CO2 absorption bands become more important.

  58. Aussie says
    Considering the sources of methane gas available, why are we not harnessing this gas to ensure a cheap energy source?
    ————-
    We are, where it’s is economic to do so.

    As for diamonds, no they are not part of the process that produces coal. Diamonds come from the carbon dissolved in deep crustal rocks. Typically a volcanic eruption brings them to the surface.

  59. LazyTeenager says:
    December 27, 2011 at 6:29 pm
    “If you want to pull some fantasy out of the air that you know for sure that this methane can’t possibly be a problem, feel free to dream away. ”

    Ow. Mister Expert System Analyst is here again.

  60. So, is this a:

    OMG ! ! ! My left eye just tried to commit suicide by jumping, but could not commit due to the right eye already have jumped, and it was just horror to witness for a poor left behind eye!

    Or:

    I, mother earth, have been oozing methane farts in all your bases for four bloody billion years, but this time around you’re all doomed for sure… Ha HA cHough, OMG, what’s that smell?

  61. DirkH says
    Ow. Mister Expert System Analyst is here again.
    ———–
    Senior Checkout Chick actually. Its amazing what you pick up from talking to the customers. But thanks for the compliment.

  62. Lazyteenager,

    The science was always based on Methane levels stabilizing at some point, mostly because of its short life-time in the atmosphere.

    The earlier estimates had it stabilizing at about 2400 ppb, I haven’t looked but the IPCC AR5 will certainly use a lower number now. You can probably find it here.

    http://www.pik-potsdam.de/~mmalte/rcps/

    It appears certain that Methane will stabilize at below 1950 ppb.

  63. “The permafrost of the East Siberian Arctic Shelf (an area of about 2 million kilometers squared)…”

    I think you mean 2 million square kilometers. As written, that’s several thousand times all the surface of the earth, oceans and all.

  64. I’m getting the feeling that this is like the ozone hole nonsense: Do these plumes represent something new that is happening or something that we’ve just recently be studying? Does ice/snow hinder methan movement? Those ice shelves argue that methane can outgas at deep pressures so how is surface ice going to stop it’s outgassing?

  65. Josualdo says:
    December 27, 2011 at 2:16 pm
    Bill Illis says: December 27, 2011 at 1:59 pm: Methane levels are not increasing. CO2 is going up, but Methane is not.

    Mauna Loa and CSIRO say yes, just a little.
    ==================================
    CSIRO can only detect it because it is so close to the BS emitted by all of our federal government shills in Canberra.

  66. Does anyone have a copy of the Shakhova and Semiletov paper? It’s behind a paywall and I would be grateful for a link to check out exactly what they do say about their hypothesis of 1000yr old inflow of water.

  67. it looks like LT is really very lazy. The fact is that there is no single answer regarding the formation of diamonds.

    A quick Google search brought up some interesting information. One paper from Adelaide University challenges what I was taught a very long time ago about the formation of diamonds. The claims in that particular paper seem to be a bit thin.

    However, let’s look at the fact that diamonds are made of carbon. This is a truth.

    The common element for coal, diamonds oil and even natural gas is carbon!!

    As for the point about viability of extracting the natural gas, when you have an oilfield strike like the one in the Gulf of Mexico, or even Westernport Bay for that matter, or the NorthWest Shelf off the coast of West Australia, the extraction of the methane in the form of natural gas should be a no brainer.

  68. @Streetcred, you are not wrong. There is a lot of hot air that is emitted here in Canberra!! The methane that is emitted from on the hill is so bad that the weather has been quite cold!!!!

  69. Methane is apparently produced in the oceans by vast hordes of hypothetical microbes that may be hiding deep within the sediments. I didn’t make that up…

    ===
    Below the seafloor, an unknown but potentially vast biosphere of microbes may be making the methane that percolates upward.

    http://www.whoi.edu/page.do?pid=12764&tid=282&cid=2441

    ===.

    There are also vast hordes of spectacularly real microbes that consume most of that odorless gas. For both varieties of microbes, the real and the surreal hordes, we should be grateful to Gaia, the blessed mother of Titan.

  70. Theo Goodwin says:
    December 27, 2011 at 4:52 pm
    “The reply from Semiletov and Shakhova is enlightening and is the QOTW:

    I nominate this “Quote of the Week” as best ever “Quote of the Week.
    —————
    I agree it’s beyond the level of your standard run of the mill QOTW and even beyond “Quote of the Month”(QOTM).
    Therefore, I recommend Anthony add this to the contenders for Quote of the Year (QOTY).

  71. Mike the convict says:
    December 27, 2011 at 4:54 pm

    Also has anyone done any research on the amount of methane consumed by lighting?

    Are you thinking of Catatumbo here, the cloud to cloud lightening? http://matthew-miller.suite101.com/the-worlds-largest-lightning-storm-a148124

    There’s been very little research done on this phenomenon at all, but certainly a good place to investigate methane feeding lightening. What I find fascinating is the regularity of it, it disappears for a few months at the beginning of the year and then comes back. If you do any searches on it be aware there’s someone called Quiroga an over-excited environmentalist who’s been playing on the theme the ‘lightening has ‘disappeared’, shock horror, but it always does around jan-march and others are pissed off that reporters ignored that bit –

    http://www.slate.com/articles/life/world_of_wonders/2011/02/an_everlasting_lightning_storm.single.html

    “Muñoz believes methane may increase the conductivity of the air over Catatumbo, allowing lightning to recharge faster and fire more frequently. But he cautions that the mystery of Catatumbo hasn’t necessarily been solved, and he implored me to convey his reservations in anything I wrote. He was disappointed by the way the press trumped up the Catatumbo storm’s supposed “disappearance” last year. The lightning always dies down during the dry months of January and February, he said. There was no reason to be concerned—a sentiment he says he communicated to journalists. “We were interviewed, and we showed them we have no scientific evidence that the Catatumbo lightning is disappearing,” says Muñoz.” [“Ángel Muñoz, who leads a team that studies the lightning at the University of Zulia’s Center for Scientific Modeling”]

  72. “Methane is a greenhouse gas more than 30 times more potent than carbon dioxide.”

    It sounds a bit like a CO2 comedown, too. I note that the flattening of methane in atmos coincides with flattening in sea level rise and flattening in global temps over the past dozen years or so.

  73. @Mooloo December 27, 2011 at 4:01 pm:

    Babsy says:

    Two million kilometers squared is one incredibly GINORMOUS area!

    Yes it made me chuckle too. Scientific illiterates writing science reports: what could go wrong?

    I presume mean 2,000,000 square kilometres is meant. About 0.4% of the earth’s surface.

    Ah, but 2,000,000 x 2,000,000 km sq is SO much cooler – like almost EIGHT THOUSAND times the surface area of Earth. Ginormous, indeed! Hey, but what is a misplaced decimal or such, among friends? (hahah – good thing I checked on my calculator – I almost missed a decimal place myself!)

  74. Anyone interested in Methane levels over the last 800,000 years.

    So that we can see if high temperatures in the Arctic will cause a Methane apocalypse.

    Nope.

    Today, thanks to man’s use of natural gas (which is mostly Methane), CH4 is up to 1900 ppb. In the last interglacial, the Eemian, when temperatures in the Arctic rose to about +4.5C higher than today, Methane only increased to 726 ppb (while the coldest part of the ice ages background level is about 400 ppb).

    The highest Methane levels, at about 800 ppb, occured during an ordinary interglacial 300,000 years ago. The long interglacial at 400,000 years ago, when the southern third of Greenland’s glaciers melted out and small trees even grew in the southern interior of Greenland, only got to 725 ppb.

    So no soup/catastrophe for you/AGW’ers.

    Please copy and post this chart around the net every time this scary scenario gets brought up.

  75. “Myrrh says:
    December 28, 2011 at 10:32 am
    Muñoz believes methane may increase the conductivity of the air over Catatumbo”

    This statement definitely requires an explanation. The electronegativity of H is 2.1 and for C it is 2.5. What this basically means is that the attraction for shared electrons is very close so there is only a very slight polarity. However perhaps of greater importance is that the CH4 molecule is tetrahedral so there is an angle of 109 degrees between all H’s and the C. This complete symmetry means the molecule as a whole has no charged ends.

  76. Werner Brozek says:
    December 28, 2011 at 5:47 pm

    Thank you Werner (though it’s all a bit above my paycheck), does the water in the atmosphere have any bearing on it? I ask because the lightening is cloud to cloud.

  77. [snip. Use ONE screen name per site Policy, Mr Mantylis. Also no use of any d-word. And cool the rhetoric. This is a science site, not an anti-Republican site as you appear to take it (and IANAR). So cool your rants or I will begin snipping. ~dbs, mod.]

  78. Andrew: I mean if Howard Hughes can ‘extract Manganese nodules’ from the bottom of the sea in the 1970′s…

    Don’t know if HH ever actually extracted anything but a soviet submarine (almost). Never know what you come across when you go grubbing about the bottom of the sea… : > )

  79. Has anyone published the yearly loss of natural gas from local and high pressure long distance ( 200+ psi) pipelines? There are gas leaks being repaired all the time around these parts (Boston) but I suspect that there are many many more leaks are going by undetected.

    There was one leak near where I work along an abandoned RR track that leaked for a half year. Everyone in the neighborhood could smell it, many people reported it to the local gas company and they would come and check the local lines which were fine. It turned out to be a high pressure line and it didn’t get any service until someone called the local fire department, (a city north of Boston) to point out the bubbles coming up through the standing water and ice in early spring. At least six months of leaking before any action … and that was in the middle of a CITY! So there have to be a lot leaking out in rural areas that will never be detected until the pipes completely split or the leak catches on fire.

    Tshane3000: Since global warming denialism is based on mere belief, trust in discredited and/or nonscientific sources, oddly distorted ideas, and cherry-picked facts, it is religion by definition.

    I didn’t know people like you still existed! Have you actually pondered the implications of this ‘cherry picked fact’ with respect to your delusion?: http://www.woodfortrees.org/plot/hadcrut3vgl/from:1997

    You have it 180 degrees backwards. There is no credible empirical data to support the theory that CO2 from humans causes ANY measurable increase in global temperature… NONE! There are mountains of empirical evidence that CO2 has little or no affect on global temperature at all, (such as that Hadley CRU data above showing no significant warming for over a decade). You are the one in denial.

  80. “Myrrh says:
    December 29, 2011 at 4:26 am
    does the water in the atmosphere have any bearing on it? I ask because the lightening is cloud to cloud.”

    Yes, water molecules are highly polar although not ionic. And the angle between H and O is 104.5 degrees so the molecule is not symmetrical. The oxygen end has a partial negative charge and the two hydrogens have a partial positive charge. That is why salt ions can easily dissolve in water.

    That supports the statement further up:
    “The lightning always dies down during the dry months of January and February, he said.”

  81. Below is more information from the source (Semiletov, the lead scientist). Their paper is not published yet, but they released the basic information because they thought the urgency of the situation warranted it. I read the scientists were so shaken that they requested the world’s governments to put together a massive geoengineering project and implement it no later than spring of 2013. And the quote below sounds like they do think the increase is caused by higher temperatures.

    “For sure there was a sense of urgency in our preparation. It was caused by the new data, which had been gathered during the past two years and not published yet. This data presents plenty of reason to have concern.

    In our article for Science magazine in 2010,we estimated the scale of methane emission from this region to be 8 million tons …… But the more recent data shows that the emissions from the East Siberian Arctic Shelf (ESAS) are much bigger.

    There are actually huge plumes of bubbles emitting from the sea bottom. Using the equipment available on this voyage – four geophysical methods,seismic profiling on different frequencies, hydro-acoustics on three frequencies, we measured these fountains of bubbles and the methane concentration in the air ….That was highly precise measuring.

    We conducted 115 stationary checkpoints and discovered fields of fantastic scale – I think of a scale not seen before in the ocean. Some fountains of methane were a kilometre and more in diameter. Emissions into the atmosphere were also 100 times higher than normal – what would be considered sustainable – levels. Such emissions would unavoidably cause impacts on climate change – the only question concerns the scale, kinetics, and speed of the emissions.

    The international climate community is now beginning to seriously examine this mechanism of rapid methane emissions as a possible cause of fast climate changes on the Earth. I agree with the opinion of most climate experts working in the Arctic.

    We see reduction of ice cover. It is obvious not only from satellites, but we also can see it directly while we are working there… In 2007,we were on a fairly small ship Victor Buinitzki and reached 82 degrees latitude ,and the surface temperature was plus 3°C (3°C above freezing).
    This is unprecedented warming, and it is a fact.

    Such warming will have an unavoidable impact on hydrates, and we know how. When ice has gone, there are stronger winds and waves and a deeper mixing of water which causes the comparatively warm upper layer to mix with water at deeper levels.

    There are already studies which confirm that in some areas, bottom temperature in summer is 2 to 3 degrees above zero Celsius (freezing).

    This means that when we determine average temperature of the year, it is already somewhere close to zero degrees celsius (the freezing / thaw point). And in some regions – for instance near the mouth of the great Siberian rivers like Lena, that warming can play a very serious role.
    As this warming spreads to a larger area, the more that shelf-based permafrost will thaw. The impact from global warming on hydrates will cause more winds and warming of surface waters. This will also interact with deeper waters and lead to the increasing of summer temperature to positive (above freezing).”

  82. “”””” Tshane3000 says:

    December 29, 2011 at 12:21 pm

    @Bill Illis:
    Clearly you’re cherry-picking here. “”””

    Well Tshane3000, I won’t bother excerpting from your blather post on real scientists, and ersatz scientists; it stands by itself.

    But tell me Tshane3000; what in the hell possessed your parents to saddle you with a name like that.
    I once knew an electronics technician and his wife, who named their unfortunate son “Wire”; but that pales to insignificance compared to Tshane3000.

    By the way, I didn’t catch the post where you recorded YOUR academic credentials, and their relevence to Climate Science; could you repeat them for us please; and my deepest sympathies for the name your parents saddled you with.

    Remember that old family store admonition; “We have no quarrel with those who offer their wares for less; they of all people should know what it is worth !”

    Same goes for anonymous posts on blogs; when even the author won’t admit to ownership of hiser words; why would anybody else pay heed to them.

  83. Werner Brozek says:
    December 29, 2011 at 8:33 pm
    “Myrrh says:
    December 29, 2011 at 4:26 am
    does the water in the atmosphere have any bearing on it? I ask because the lightening is cloud to cloud.”

    Yes, water molecules are highly polar although not ionic. And the angle between H and O is 104.5 degrees so the molecule is not symmetrical. The oxygen end has a partial negative charge and the two hydrogens have a partial positive charge. That is why salt ions can easily dissolve in water.

    That supports the statement further up:
    “The lightning always dies down during the dry months of January and February, he said.”

    I meant in relation to “Muñoz believes methane may increase the conductivity of the air over Catatumbo” – though thanks, I began puzzling why it didn’t appear in those two months.. :)

    It seems that methane and water make hydrogen, and, lightning comes from a breakdown of gases, though I don’t know which pages I got that from, had rather a lot open.

    Here it says:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chemical_polarity

    ” For example, a molecule of water is polar because of the unequal sharing of its electrons between oxygen and hydrogen in which the former has larger electronegativity than the latter, resulting in a “bent” structure, whereas methane is considered nonpolar because the carbon shares the electrons with the hydrogen atoms almost uniformly.”

    But, if methane breaks down in water to form hydrogen it could be adding to the conductivity as Munoz says, right?

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