Methane estimates from the Arctic double, but there’s no cause for alarm

From the University of Alaska, Fairbanks

Study: Arctic seafloor methane releases double previous estimates

The seafloor off the coast of Northern Siberia is releasing more than twice the amount of methane as previously estimated, according to new research results published in the Nov. 24 edition of the journal Nature Geoscience.

The East Siberian Arctic Shelf is venting at least 17 teragrams of the methane into the atmosphere each year. A teragram is equal to 1 million tons.

“It is now on par with the methane being released from the arctic tundra, which is considered to be one of the major sources of methane in the Northern Hemisphere,” said Natalia Shakhova, one of the paper’s lead authors and a scientist at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. “Increased methane releases in this area are a possible new climate-change-driven factor that will strengthen over time.”

Methane is a greenhouse gas more than 30 times more potent than carbon dioxide. On land, methane is released when previously frozen organic material decomposes. In the seabed, methane can be stored as a pre-formed gas or asmethane hydrates. As long as the subsea permafrost remains frozen, it forms a cap, effectively trapping the methane beneath. However, as the permafrost thaws, it develops holes, which allow the methane to escape. These releases can be larger and more abrupt than those that result from decomposition.

The findings are the latest in an ongoing international research project led by Shakhova and Igor Semiletov, both researchers at the UAF International Arctic Research Center. Their twice-yearly arctic expeditions have revealed that the subsea permafrost in the area has thawed much more extensively than previously thought, in part due to warming water near the bottom of the ocean. The warming has created conditions that allow the subsea methane to escape in much greater amounts than their earlier models estimated. Frequent storms in the area hasten its release into the atmosphere, much in the same way stirring a soda releases the carbonation more quickly.

“Results of this study represent a big step forward toward improving our understanding of methane emissions from the East Siberian Arctic Shelf,” said Shakhova. She noted that while the ESAS is unusual in its expansive and shallow nature, the team’s findings there speak to the need for further exploration of the subsea Arctic. “I believe that all other arctic shelf areas are significantly underestimated and should be paid very careful attention to.”

Methane bubbles collect under the ice.

Photo courtesy of Natalia Shakhova
Methane bubbles collect under the ice.

The East Siberian Arctic Shelf is a methane-rich area that encompasses more than 2 million square kilometers of seafloor in the Arctic Ocean. It is more than three times as large as the nearby Siberian wetlands, which have been considered the primary Northern Hemisphere source of atmospheric methane. Previous estimates performed for the ESAS suggested that the area was releasing 8 teragrams of methane into the atmosphere yearly.

During field expeditions, the research team used a variety of techniques—including sonar and visual images of methane bubbles in the water, air and water sampling, seafloor drilling and temperature readings—to determine the conditions of the water and permafrost, as well as the amount of methane being released.

Methane is an important factor in global climate change, because it so effectively traps heat. As conditions warm, global research has indicated that more methane is released, which then stands to further warm the planet. Scientists call this phenomenon a positive feedback loop.

“We believe that the release of methane from the Arctic, and in particular this part of the Arctic, could impact the entire globe,” Shakhova said. “We are trying to understand the actual contribution of the ESAS to the global methane budget and how that will change over time.”

Shakhova and Semiletov are also affiliated with the Pacific Oceanological Institute at the Russian Academy of Sciences, Far Eastern Branch, as are research team members Anatoly Salyuk, Denis Kosmach and Denis Chernykh. Other members of the research team include Dmitry Nicolsky of the UAF Geophysical Institute; co-lead author Ira Leifer of the Marine Sciences Institute at the University of California, Santa Barbara and Bubbleology Research International; Valentin Sergienko of the Institute of Chemistry at the Russian Academy of Sciences, Far Eastern Branch; Chris Stubbs of the Marine Sciences Institute at the University of California, Santa Barbara; Vladimir Tumskoy of Moscow State University; and Örjan Gustafsson of the Department of Applied Environmental Science and Bolin Centre for Climate Research, Stockholm University.

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So the real question here – is this doubling to 17 Tg a big problem? Let’s look at the numbers they cite:

The East Siberian Arctic Shelf is venting at least 17 teragrams of the methane into the atmosphere each year. A teragram is equal to 1 million tons.

Houweling et al. (1999) give the following values for methane emissions (Tg/a=teragrams per year):

Methane_sources
Table from Wikipedia

The estimated total emissions totals 600 Tg/a, sinks total 580 Tg/a. The previous estimates of CH4 emissions are already accounted for somewhere in the table above, perhaps with oceans, then it adds 8.5 TG/a to the balance sheet.

8.5/600 is a 1.4% increase, hardly anything dramatic. It may be even be below or near the error band for these estimates.

But all that is being reported in MSM stories, like this one in Scientific American is about a doubling of methane release, and of course, that makes people worry.

At times like this, it is useful to have another look at the IPCC AR5 draft report graph on how methane in the atmosphere stacks up against model projections:

IPCC_AR5_draft_fig1-7_methane

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79 Responses to Methane estimates from the Arctic double, but there’s no cause for alarm

  1. crosspatch says:

    An increase in the estimated rate of release does not mean that the actual rate of release has increased, just that their estimate has increased.

    ““Increased methane releases in this area are a possible new climate-change-driven factor that will strengthen over time.””

    Is a misleading statement and I believe intentionally so. Because their estimate increased using more modern technology and methods does not mean that actual amount of methane increased.

  2. crosspatch says:

    Oh, and the temperature under the ocean at the shelf would not have changed even if the surface temperature has so “global warming” wouldn’t have any impact.

  3. Hoser says:

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2013/11/16/another-known-unknown-volcanic-outgassing-of-co2/#comment-1477736
    Just as true now as during the cold war? I guess once again we should sit down, put our heads between our knees, and kiss our butts good-bye. Well, we all survived the MAD, MIRV, MARV, SLBM, Nuclear Triad, Detent, and even Jimmy Carter. Somehow I’m not particularly worried about a little methane.

  4. Steve B says:

    So when are we all supposed to die? /sarc

  5. stuart L says:

    How can they say it is 30 times more potent than CO2, it occupy’s a smaller range on the frequency bandwith than CO2 and and quickly decays to CO2, it is only potent because unlike CO2 it is not saturated.

  6. Patrick says:

    “The warming has created conditions that allow the subsea methane to escape in much greater amounts than their earlier models estimated.”

    Models used to estimate warming (From CO2) which will cause more methane to escape more so now than previous models estimated? HA! Models trump reality again! At ~1800ppBILLION/v today I won’t worry any time soon as long as we have termites on this rock!

  7. crosspatch says:

    “The warming has created conditions that allow the subsea methane to escape in much greater amounts than their earlier models estimated.”

    I challenge anyone to show me where the temperature at the bottom of the Arctic ocean has changed enough to be measurable.

  8. Aussiebear says:

    Showing some ignorance here. Does Methane exhibit the logarithmic drop off in “green house” effect as C02. Just because it is 30 more potent, does it loose its effect 30 times faster? Are the dynamics different? Just curious. Also isn’t Methane measured in ppb (b as in billion)?

  9. Rabe says:

    “Increased methane releases in this area are a possible new climate-change-driven factor that will strengthen over time.”

    What crosspatch said. And since GW didn’t happen…
    They don’t tell but I think they hope for a nice bit of warming up there.

  10. crosspatch says:

    Methane also has a much shorter life in the atmosphere as it is eventually oxidized. They should just put a big inverted funnel over the venting gas and catch it. They have done something similar to that off the coast of California where drilling is now allowed but there are significant seeps of methane. It is estimated that natural seeps are a significant contributor to air pollution in Southern California. Years ago Santa Barbara used to smell like kerosene and the beach was covered with oil from natural seeps before they started drilling and reduced the seepage. Coal Oil Point has that name for a reason.

  11. Brian H says:

    stuart L says:
    November 25, 2013 at 11:48 pm

    How can they say it is 30 times more potent than CO2, it occupy’s a smaller range on the frequency bandwith than CO2 and and quickly decays to CO2, it is only potent because unlike CO2 it is not saturated.

    I’ve seen it said that they count the oxidation products as part of the “total” (2 H20 and CO2). Nice work if you can get it.

  12. crosspatch says:

    Meant where drilling is NOT allowed

  13. Konrad. says:

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

    Utter tripe. Methane, like H2O and CO2 is a radiative gas. It both absorbs and emits LWIR. “Greenhouse gas” is the language of liars. The net effect of radiative gases in our atmosphere is atmospheric cooling at all concentrations above 0.0ppm.

  14. Konrad. says:

    crosspatch says:
    November 26, 2013 at 12:04 am
    —————————————
    No big funnel needed.
    1 -At the end of the arctic summer sail nuclear powered mining rigs close to the remaining ice.
    2- Use dirty cordite powered rockets to deploy the aramid fibre ice reinforcement nets in a 500 m radius around the floating rig.
    3 – Wait for the freeze, then use a combination of buoyancy tanks and warm water from the nuclear power plant to create a methane collecting ice dome.
    4 – Siphon off thousands of tonnes of human enriching methane and liquefy it using the nuclear power plant.
    5 – Send video of the operation to Greensleeze and delight as their empty skulls implode in their ethically farmed yak wool beanies ;-)

  15. Oldseadog says:

    “Sub-sea permafrost”??????

  16. Man Bearpig says:

    Thank our lucky stars this is not human induced otherwise it would have had a much, much worse affect.

  17. uppsalaumea says:

    Q: Why are FAR, TAR, SAR, AR4, all overestimating CH4 emissions,?

    A: Because real data was unavailable – they used estimates created by Mr. Methane.

  18. bullocky says:

    ‘Methane is an important factor in global climate change, because it so effectively traps heat. As conditions warm, global research has indicated that more methane is released, which then stands to further warm the planet. Scientists call this phenomenon a positive feedback loop.’

    Still no ‘smoking gun’ evidence that CO2 is a net causal factor ‘as conditions warm’. Methane, as stated, certainly is a much more potent heat trapping gas than CO2.
    As with CO2, Methane is useful. As a fuel, it burns readily to form CO2 (goodness gracious!) and water. The question arises; is this source(s) of Methane harvestable as a fuel source and to render it into a very much less effective greenhouse gas?

  19. Ed Zuiderwijk says:

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

    No, it isn’t.

    This (hillarious, if you think about it) mantra of the warming crowd is the result of a complete misreading by the warming modelers of the physics of radiation transport. It is based on the same error that makes them overestimate the effect of CO2 by a factor of at least three and, more importantly, makes them think that the “feedback” on water vapour is such that we live on the edge of a “tipping point” when, in fact, the feedback on water vapour is close to neutral.

  20. michael hart says:

    “Results of this study represent a big step forward toward improving our understanding of methane emissions from the East Siberian Arctic Shelf”

    They know we still don’t understand methane emissions very well. What they are studying is the effect of the passage of storms as a mechanism of transporting methane, not mass balance of methane or carbon stocks.

  21. James from Arding says:

    A question I have thought many times – how can ruminants be seen as purely “anthropogenic”? I am thinking of the vast hordes of bison, and other ruminants that used to graze the extensive grasslands of the earth – before humans figured out how to first reduce their numbers and then replace them with the domestic kind!

    Just asking.

  22. Alan the Brit says:

    “The warming has created conditions that allow the subsea methane to escape in much greater amounts than their earlier models estimated.”

    Says it all really! Earlier models were wrong, who’s to say the latest aren’t either! Simulation, representation, sophistication……………………………………………..!

  23. gary turner says:

    I keep wondering how much credence to give these soi-disant scientists. By their own admission, all previous theses proved to be wrong; “This time we know the answer and it’s worse than we thought.” It’s the same same thing they said the last time, admitting they were wrong the previous time, which …

  24. Keitho says:

    Perhaps those 30 Greenpeace kids could do some measurements for them.

    I only mention this in the total absence of any measurements being made to support this new wheeze.

  25. papertiger says:

    crosspatch says:
    November 26, 2013 at 12:05 am
    Meant where drilling is NOT allowed

    Yeah, I skimmed by where you said California allows offshore drilling and I was thinking
    “damn, I’m going to have to correct crosspatch.” Which would be a first for me.
    The dirt worshiping commies who run California won’t even let you play a game of catch on the beach, much less clean up oil seeps.

    http://www.fulldisclosure.net/2012/04/beach-ban-on-football-and-frisbees/

  26. papertiger says:

    If methane were a greenhouse gas then Titan with it’s thick (1.4 times Earth) methane rich atmosphere would be warmer than it’s airless chunk of rock neighbor Hyperion.

    But let’s not let observable fact get in the way of a good yarn.

    Methane that they didn’t know about has been perculating into the atmosphere all along you say?

    I feel warmer already. Burrrrr

  27. papiertigre says:

    Full disclosure. Fellas. To be perfectly honest, it bums me out that global warming has turned out to be a crock.

    I was looking forward to mild winters where I could wander the world in short sleaves, and donate my coat to charity.

    Am I the only one who feels this way?

  28. M Simon says:

    Increased methane releases in this area are a possible new climate-change-driven factor that will strengthen over time.

    Anything is POSSIBLE with these fools. And some times it is twice as POSSIBLE.

  29. M Simon says:

    Well if methane estimates are twice the previous estimates then CO2 is half as effective as previously thought. Or something. (Yeah the math makes no sense – but if that doesn’t deter THEM why should it deter me?)

  30. Jquip says:

    @crosspatch: Heroic, man.

    @James from Arding: “A question I have thought many times – how can ruminants be seen as purely “anthropogenic”?”

    McDonalds. No, really. There are plenty of sources for it, but the link has the lot of the interesting ones.
    http://tinybytes.me/facts/crazy-fast-food-facts?page=10

    @uppsalaumea: “Q: Why are FAR, TAR, SAR, AR4, all overestimating CH4 emissions,?”

    It’s important to consider just what the Climate Models are doing. Willis E. has shown on occasion that climate models reduce to a simple function of CO2. So the output of every model is, essentially, a linear slope. Non-conforming models have different slopes, and so don’t pass peer review. eg. “We know the consequence of ‘this has never happened before’ because we haven’t seen it. And you don’t get to put food on the table unless you agree with what has never previously occurred.”

    Put that all together and what you arrive at is a linear slope coming straight off the pre-pause temperature. Ignoring that temperature hasn’t been compliant to their dictates, every other consideration of the climate models is simply a fractional scale. eg. Same atmosphere as now, but bigger!, improved!, more in the box!. So if the CO2 derviation of Temp overshoots, then so to does everything else and in roughly the same proportion.

    How to be a Climate Modeler: Take the official CO2 -> Temp increases as stated by the High Popes of heat. Find the point at which temp has increased 1%. Increase all parameters of the climate by 1%. Tweak various parameters to retain the pre-chosen conclusion to make your model look: a) different, thus justifying your slice of the funding pie. b) Avoid nailing your thesis to the door of Mann’s cathedral. And c) Make it seem like you’re doing anything but a linear projection the mid-90s slope of temperature as reported by global temperature products/models.

  31. Bruce Cobb says:

    The Alarmists love recycling the methane scare. PNAS recently published a “study” showing that the US is “spewing” 50% more methane than the EPA says: http://www.boston.com/news/science/2013/11/25/study-spewing-more-methane-than-epa-says/Z2uq4QCTNvE16mGdB9tiIJ/story.html
    For better effect, they really should put that in “hiros”, though.

  32. Old'un says:

    ‘Their twice-yearly arctic expeditions have revealed that the subsea permafrost in the area has thawed much more extensively than previously thought, in part due to warming water near the bottom of the ocean’……….

    And the other part?

  33. tony nordberg says:

    Is this guy one of the authors?

    http://www.mrmethane.com/

  34. James says:

    Good news. Given the dramatic increase in methane (ho ho), plus the fact that temperature is steady means we are even more confidant that climate sensitivity is low!

    Perhaps to some this is indeed “worse than we thought”

  35. Caleb says:

    All that methane gets trapped under the ice, and then is released all at once when the ice melts in the spring. That explains why it gets warmer in the summer.

    Can I have my grant money now?

    /sarc

  36. LearDog says:

    The flaw is that the first measurement is interpreted as a change in rate of emission, whereas it is merely a different measurement of a process that has been ongoing for some time. To make a significant difference in the stability of the subsea hydrates one would have to significantly change the temperature of the water column above.

  37. Bill Illis says:

    Everyone should watch the video of global Methane levels from the Airs Aqua satellite. Animation of every day from 2002 to 2009.

    Search “Airs Methane” on Google video.

    You will have a completely different perspective on this issue.

  38. Jquip says:

    Bill Illis: “You will have a completely different perspective on this issue.”

    Ok, so… Before I watched it my perspective was that people can make videos. After it, my perspective is still that people can make videos. My thesis that videos are anthropogenic in origin has not been altered.

  39. Jack O'Fall says:

    It is clear that this process has been driven by the heat you claim is ‘hidden’. The bottom of the sea floor is in the 700M range, were we can’t measure the massive increase in heat content that has occurred over the last 12 years. This is the fingerprint of that hidden heat, starting to literally boil our oceans with gassified methane, released from it’s permanent storage in the pristine arctic seabed. As the temperatures at that depth continue to rise in an unprecedented manner, we will see more and more discoveries of how this is catastrophically tipping the delicate climate balance, and pushing us into a runaway greenhouse.

    /sarc

  40. Jquip says:

    Bill Illis: A quick follow up on Airs Methane.

    From what I see in their docs, the range represented in the video falls around 0.2 total while the std err appears to be 0.35 or so. Not terribly clear on that one, nor do I care to be given that the CH4 product has the following to say of itself:

    “Given all of issues described in the caveats, we caution researchers to consider the V5 CH4 product to be a provisional release. It is an exploratory product and we had to modify the climatology and RTA shortly before delivery to take into account the recently re-released NOAA ESRL measurements in the 400-500 mb region (with a +20 ppbv correction). The lack of sufficient QA or regularization of the retrieval makes the methane values in the tropics, deserts, and Antarctica suspicious. The CH4_dof test does not improve this in the tropical region. “

    This also satisfies my thesis that Climatology continues to produce a stream of Piltdown Men in their quest to find Hopeful Monsters. Hopefully you can advise further on what perception you want me to take on.

    http://daac.gsfc.nasa.gov/AIRS/documentation/v5_docs/AIRS_V5_Release_User_Docs/V5_L2_Standard_Product_QuickStart.pdf

  41. Jimbo says:

    I agree with crosspatch, what is the temperature on the seafloor off the coast of Northern Siberia? Aside from temperature what else could release methane from the shelf?

    “An ancient forest has thawed from under a melting glacier in Alaska and is now exposed to the world for the first time in more than 1,000 years.”
    http://www.livescience.com/39819-ancient-forest-thaws.html

  42. mbur says:

    So, by farting around the house my heater will come on less?

    And how about this reality check:In the northwest USA, recently there has been an high pressure system and an inversion layer and the temperature is still cold with all those pollutants and stagnant air…WUWT!?

    Thanks for the interesting articles and comments.

  43. AnonyMoose says:

    The article which Bruce Cobb points out shows that actual measurement of methane revealed a lot more is being released than the modeled estimates. Of course, the previous estimates must have been used in climate models — so the climate models’ historical accuracy again shows that they’re wrong.

  44. Bill_W says:

    The rate of methane increase has slowed a lot in the last 20 years. This was unexpected. They don’t really understand all the sources and sinks of methane. The climate models (see above) vastly over-predict the amount of methane released. Recent studies have said the permafrost and clathrate methane is very stable. All of this points to it not being a problem.

    Now they have detected methane release in some new places. But, unless this just started shortly before they discovered it, this is already part of the global levels and rates of methane measured.

    Also, if concentrations are higher than they realized in arctic, this could explain some of the arctic amplification and if a higher conc. is giving rise to the recent temperatures, this may mean that the sensitivity to methane is less than they thought and would also tend to lower the amount attributed to CO2 if there is now thought to be more of another GHG present in arctic.

  45. Jimbo says:

    The IPCC graph says one thing quite clearly: It’s not as bad as we thought or projected. In fact we at the IPCC have very little skill in our projections for methane as can be seen by the repeated lowering of the projections – 4 times!

    Japan showed in a pilot project this year that methane in some locations can be harvested.
    http://www.nature.com/news/japanese-test-coaxes-fire-from-ice-1.12858

    Alaska project pumping co2 to push out methane in test scheme.
    http://www.nature.com/news/gas-hydrate-tests-to-begin-in-alaska-1.9758

  46. CRS, DrPH says:

    Oh noes, now the cattle have come to kill us with their belches and farts!

    http://www.foxnews.com/science/2013/11/26/big-methane-burp-cows-refineries-spew-gas/

    As we slip further into the “Svalgaard Minimum,” we will probably be very glad to have extra GHG in the atmosphere.

  47. beng says:

    OP says:
    The East Siberian Arctic Shelf is venting at least 17 teragrams of the methane into the atmosphere each year. A teragram is equal to 1 million tons.

    Can’t grok that. Need to put it in terms of ‘Hiroshima bombs’.

  48. beng says:

    ***
    papiertigre says:
    November 26, 2013 at 3:41 am

    I was looking forward to mild winters where I could wander the world in short sleaves, and donate my coat to charity.

    Am I the only one who feels this way?
    ***

    No, I’ve learned to hate the cold & realize how vulnerable humans are to it. Lately I’ve been dreaming of moving to Willis’ tropical Pacific island…

  49. Mike Bromley the Kurd says:

    “Results of this study represent a big step forward toward improving our understanding of methane emissions from the East Siberian Arctic Shelf”

    Well SLAP me. Did she actually say that? I mean come on. That is a big step forward???? Wow. It’ll be a topic of conversation for years now. People will be hanging on every clathrate-sodden word.

  50. Oldseadog says:

    I still don’t understand how the sea bed can be frozen (sub-sea permafrost). Surely if the sea bed were frozen then the water in contact with it would also be frozen.
    What am I missing?

  51. bob paglee says:

    Does the methane venting into the Arctic polar sea near eastern Siberia result in underwater warming that reduces the thickness of the ice in the region trending [east] of Novaya Zemiya Island? Can methane combine with sea-water dissolved oxygen in a slow oxidation process that creates a little heating without any underwater combustion?

    Maybe you can see this effect from the fascinating animated time-lapse Arctic ice-thickness map by NRL. Here’s the link:

    http://www7320.nrlssc.navy.mil/hycomARC/navo/arcticict_nowcast_anim365d.gif

    Any comments, or is this just a nutty idea?

  52. bob paglee says:

    Sorry — here’s an errata for my comment above. I should have written “…trending east of Novaya Island..” NOT “WEST” (I forgot that I was looking at the map of Siberia upside down. Ugh!!)

  53. Gary Hladik says:

    Oldseadog says (November 26, 2013 at 9:07 am): “I still don’t understand how the sea bed can be frozen (sub-sea permafrost).”

    http://web.archive.org/web/20120614141539/http://woodshole.er.usgs.gov/project-pages/hydrates/what.html

    “Gas hydrates are stable at the temperatures and pressures that occur in ocean-floor sediments at water depths greater than about 500 meters, and at these pressures they are stable at temperatures above those for ice stability.”

  54. Mike Maguire says:

    We’ve crossed well into the “Boy that cried wolf” realm.

    There is absolute certainty of one side being blatantly dishonest and biased about CO2. We need only look at the known law of photosynthesis and the fraudulent entities completely avoiding that beneficial story as they tell lie after lie to convict CO2 as a pollutant vs telling us the truth about it being atmospheric fertilizer and recent increases causing a huge upwards explosion in world food production.

    Methane/CH4 on the other hand does not have the clear benefits to our world that CO2 has but I would like to study it more before busting the likely myths that the same biased side has been shown to propagandize for years based on junk science.

  55. Steve Keohane says:

    Methane is 30X stronger than CO2, I assume they mean molecule for molecule. So for the roughly 120ppm of CO2 increase (400-280ppm) we see an alleged .7°C temperature rise. That is .0058°C per ppm if it was all caused by CO2. Therefore methane causes .175°C per ppb. Since methane has gone up 50ppb in the past century it has caused 8.75°C of temperature rise. Call Trenberth, we’ve found his missing heat!! If CO2 caused half the alleged temperature rise we have seen, then methane has caused only over 4°C. It looks like CO2 has to have an effect way below 1°C to have any cohesion to this GHG hypothesis.

  56. mbur says:

    @Gary Hladik
    “Gas hydrates are stable at the temperatures and pressures that occur in ocean-floor sediments at water depths greater than about 500 meters, and at these pressures they are stable at temperatures above those for ice stability.”

    Yeah, i’ve always wondered how the ‘heat rises effect’ works in water at great depths .Water is most dense at a temp. higher than 0°C. Ice floats, but,maybe sub-sea permafrost doesn’t?
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Phase_diagram_of_water.svg

  57. Dave_G says:

    The predeliction for using units of measurement that ‘exaggerate’ the problem seems endemic. ‘Terragrammes’ now? References should be stated as percentages of the ‘norm’. The ‘gigatonnes’ of scarey man-made CO2 and the ‘terragrammes’ of methane are soon discredited when they become fractional parts of 1 percent of the ‘norm’.

  58. Eugene says:

    Crosspatch has some great points. Me, I only come up with these mundane bits:
    1) But for how long have these methane releases been occurring?
    2) Is it something that has changed significantly in the past 30-100 years?
    3) Have they been this large in the past, say in the 1930′s?

  59. Eugene says:

    #1 should also ask “at the newly estimated rates”

  60. anengineer says:

    Since the overall amount of atmospheric CO2 is unchanged this must mean that either some other source is overestimated or an unidentified sink exists.

    Determining which is the case and the nature of the error would be useful to science, but not to pundits.

  61. Khwarizmi says:

    The planet is infested from pole to pole with gas-guzzling microbes – click on my name for oceans of live evidence.
    Earth has been belching out life-enriching methane since its inception.
    In fact, life probably started out guzzling gas:
    http://rstb.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/368/1622/20120258.abstract

    Eugene asked:
    1) But for how long have these methane releases been occurring?
    Eons.

  62. Jimbo says:

    I gather Shakhova wrote about methane in the same area in 2010 and 2005. Is it possible that the bubbles had been doing their thing for decades now? 50 years? 100 years? A bit like the people who say that the Ozone hole over the Arctic has always been there. Just askin.
    http://www.nature.com/ngeo/journal/vaop/ncurrent/full/ngeo2007.html
    http://www.sciencemag.org/content/327/5970/1246.abstract

    2012 – Real Climate is not too worried about the methane timebomb so why should we?
    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2012/01/much-ado-about-methane/

  63. aaron says:

    This means that CH4s atmospheric life is much shorter than previously believed.

  64. Jimbo says:

    Eugene says:
    November 26, 2013 at 11:50 am

    Crosspatch has some great points. Me, I only come up with these mundane bits:
    1) But for how long have these methane releases been occurring?

    I don’t know but for at least as long as there have been methane eating microbes.

    ‘Inconceivable’ Bugs Eat Methane on the Ocean Floor
    Carl Zimmer is the author of Parasite Rex and At the Water’s Edge.
    Most of the methane that rises toward the surface of the ocean floor vanishes before it even reaches the water. On page 484 of this issue, a team of researchers provides the clinching evidence for where all that methane goes: It is devoured by vast hordes of mud-dwelling microbes that belong to a previously unknown species of archaea. These methane-eating microbes–once thought to be impossible–now look to be profoundly important to the planet’s carbon cycle.
    http://www.sciencemag.org/content/293/5529/418.short

    Apparently methane eating microbes also [munched] heavily on the BP oil spill in the Gulf.

    Guardian
    Methane from BP oil spill eaten by microbes
    Underwater bacteria had devoured nearly all the methane gas from BP’s blown-out well by August, says a study in Science
    http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2011/jan/06/methane-bp-oil-spill-microbes

  65. Jimbo says:

    Sorry for blockquote cock-up. :(

    [No, the correct blockquote sets are not clear. Where should they be? Mod]

  66. Jimbo says:

    Here is a comment that Andrew Revkin got back from the author back in December 2011 regarding an earlier paper. Igor Dmitrenko, whose paper was cited by the intrepid researchers disputed their findings at Revkins. Make of it what you will but it looks like a storm in a teacup.

    Dec. 29, 9:28 a.m. | Updated below |
    I’ve been in touch with Natalia Shakhova and Igor Semiletov, the intrepid Russian researchers, based at the International Arctic Research Center in Fairbanks, Alaska, who for more than a decade have been leading an important international project analyzing methane plumes rising from the seabed in the shallow Arctic waters spreading north from eastern Siberian shores…..

    Here is the contribution from Semiletov and Shakhova:

    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.

    http://dotearth.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/12/27/leaders-of-arctic-methane-project-clarify-climate-concerns/?_r=0

  67. RoHa says:

    Hooray! More bad news. Doomed by methane!

  68. RoHa says:

    And I commend the other commenters on keeping the number of fart jokes to a minimum. (Must have a few for this topic.)

  69. Ian L. McQueen says:

    Note to mbur

    Pure water is least dense at 4 degrees C. But add salt to the water, as in sea water, and the water then follows the same trajectory as any other liquid and continues to become more dense as the temperature goes down.
    Does this answer your question / conjecture?

    IanM

    [Rather, "most dense" at 4 deg C? Mod]

  70. mbur says:

    @Ian L. McQueen ,Thanks for the reply to my comment.Your reply does get to the point i was tring to make that at great depths in the ocean it is warmer(?) than at less depth, cooler water(salt and other mixed minerals and compounds biologic and other wise) is over warmer water is it not?Maybe heat of pressure of water?That’s why i say i don’t understand the ‘heat rises effect’ in ocean water columns, because cool water enough and salt comes out and ice forms and it rises .So ,is there pure salt on the bottom of the ocean ? and does sub-sea permafrost form?

  71. mbur says:

    ice rises ?or just stays on top ?if only pure water freezes than you have water at 0°c over salt water that is warmer ?is sub-sea permafrost not water-based frost?

  72. AndyG55 says:

    Once this methane converts to CO2, how does this compare with man’s contribution of CO2 ?

  73. AndyG55 says:

    Doh, I had only read the first paragraph.. Now I find the table of value…

    DOH !!!

  74. Keitho says:

    What happened to the Bison and Buffalo farts from the past then?

    You know how desperate these clowns are getting when they come up with poo like this. What’s next, the increasing number of mosquitos caused by climate change are beating their wings thus causing more and stronger winds?

    Give me strength!

  75. James Bull says:

    So this is where the missing heat has got too warming the East Siberian Arctic Shelf below the ice causing it to vent maybe more methane?
    This sounds like another one of those games where you are meant to look at this thing I’m showing you and not notice while I remove your money from your wallet!

    James Bull

  76. mbur says:

    I’m not trying to find missing heat or anthing else.Sorry ,but,I’m just commenting on a study put forth by some reasearchers and posted on this fantastic website.
    I am not a professional commenter.So, my comments must be taken lightly .Hopefully they will make points to think about.

    Maybe my point was that the atmosphere is colder than the ocean and land.And no matter what out gasses or emits ,there is, most of the time(especially in the arctic but maybe other places too…) a colder atmosphere at the surface/interface of the ocean .Then it freezes and changes the interface dynamic.That’s how you can have a volcano under the ice,no matter the heat and so called pollutants the cold atmosphere dominates. More methane and other gasses usually means more life,due to the activity of the process it self.Heat and compounds are created that biologics can use,and they sure do use it.Life struggles with nature and survives and government wants to CO2-n-Troll (control) it.

    Thanks for the interesting articles and comments.

  77. Kyle says:

    @Konrad – ““Greenhouse gas” is the language of liars. The net effect of radiative gases in our atmosphere is atmospheric cooling at all concentrations above 0.0ppm.”

    Please post the science supporting this claim. Else consider it effectively retracted.

  78. mbur says:

    Thanks to the Moderator for pointing out that thing about “least dense water”.
    You know maybe i’m not as technical as some others….but,
    I have always thought that water was its lowest density when it was in…vapor phase.
    And it can be vapor below 0°c.
    There’s also some overshoot at 1kbar to 10kbar where water is liquid below 0°c.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Phase_diagram_of_water.svg

    http://chemwiki.ucdavis.edu/Physical_Chemistry/Physical_Properties_of_Matter/Atomic_and_Molecular_Properties/Intermolecular_Forces/Unusual_Properties_of_Water

    Quote from website above:”All substances, including water, become less dense when they are heated and more dense when they are cooled. So if water is cooled, it becomes more dense and forms ice. Water is one of the few substances whose solid state can float on its liquid state! Why? Water continues to become more dense until it reaches 4°C. After it reaches 4°C, it becomes LESS dense. When freezing, molecules within water begin to move around more slowly, making it easier for them to form hydrogen bonds and eventually arrange themselves into an open crystalline, hexagonal structure. Because of this open structure as the water molecules are being held further apart, the volume of water increases about 9%. So molecules are more tightly packed in water’s liquid state than its solid state. This is why a can of soda can explode in the freezer.”

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