That worrisome "Methane Beast" apparently is still not awake.

OK Leland Palmer, I told you on several occasions where you tried to steer threads towards Methane that you should wait until WUWT had a thread that was relevant – here you go, have at it. – Anthony

The Ups and Downs of Methane

Reposted from World Climate Report

One of the indisputable facts in the field of global climate change is that the atmospheric build-up of methane (CH4) has been, over the past few decades, occurring much more slowly than all predictions as to its behavior (Figure 1). Since methane is a particularly potent greenhouse gas (thought to have about 25 times the warming power of CO2), emissions scenarios which fail to track methane will struggle to well-replicate the total climate forcing, likely erring on the high side—and feeding too much forcing into climate models leads to too much global warming coming out of them.

Figure 1. Atmospheric methane concentrations, 1985-2008, with the IPCC methane projections overlaid (adapted from: Dlugokencky et al., 2009)

 

Figure 2 shows the year-over-year change in the methane concentration of the atmosphere, and indicates not only that the growth rate of methane has been declining, but also that on several occasions during the past decade or so, it has dropped to very near zero (or even below) indicating that no increase in the atmospheric methane concentration (or a even a slight decline) occurred from one year to the next.

Figure 2. Year-to-year change in atmospheric methane concentrations, 1985-2008, (source: Dlugokencky et al., 2009)

This behavior is quite perplexing. And while we are not sure what processes are behind it, we do know one thing for certain—the slow growth of methane concentrations is an extremely cold bucket of water dumped on the overheated claims that global warming is leading to a thawing of the Arctic permafrost and the release of untold mega-quantities of methane (which, of course, will lead to more warming, more thawing, more methane, etc., and, of course, to runaway catastrophe).

To some, the blip upwards in methane growth in 2007 (Figure 2) was a sure sign that the methane beast was awakening from its unexpected slumber. Climate disaster was just around the corner (just ask Joe Romm).

But alas, despite the hue and cry, in 2008 the increase in methane, instead of equaling or exceeding the 2007 rise, turned out to be only about half of the 2007 rise. And together with information on from where it seemed to emanate (the tropics rather than the Arctic), it cannot be taken as a sign that the slow methane growth rate during the past decade was coming to an end as a result of an Arctic meltdown.

Here is how NOAA methane-guru Ed Dlugokencky and colleagues put it in their publication last week describing recent methane behavior:

We emphasize that, although changing climate has the potential to dramatically increase CH4 emissions from huge stores of carbon in permafrost and from Arctic hydrates, our observations are not consistent with sustained changes there yet.

The factual portion of their conclusion remains the same, with or without the inclusion of the final word (but it sure was nice of them to throw it in there as a bone to climate catastrophists the world over).

Reference

Dlugokencky, E. J., et al., 2009. Observational constraints on recent increases in the atmospheric CH4 burden. Geophysical Research Letters, 36, L18803, doi:10.1029/2009GL039780.

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John Cooper

The ozone must be eating the methane.

p.g.sharrow "PG"

methane concentrations follow temperature ???

Yaakoba

Do you think that it is really possible for anything to have an exact target; such as hitting the moon with a rocket since the moon is in a constant orbiting motion? The earth orbits the sun with the speed of light, the moon is smaller than earth and it is orbiting slower than earth plus it is rotating on it’s axis at a very slow rate. Plus all this is dependent on the gravity of the sun. Earth rotates on it’s axis at 1,000 miles in one hour, all planets in our galaxy are insync with earths rotation; all this stuff is traveling so fast in the universe that it seems almost impossible to be able to hit a target since there is constant motion.
The earth orbits the sun at the speed of light, the moon orbits the earth; plus all these other planets are in constant orbiting motion, yet connected to the rotation of the earth.
It looks in my mind like all this stuff works like the internal structure of a big wrist watch

The Toronto Star ran a piece recently emphasizing the danger of methane being released in the Arctic, asking readers to visualize a boiling and bubbling cauldron as in Macbeth.
http://lloydtown.blogspot.com/2009/09/interpreting-arctic.html
Even in that piece it became clear that recent observations may be … nothing new. So far: dog bites man, but just you wait folks, it’s going to be man bites dog any day now.

Juraj V.

Temperatures in Arctic in 40ties had been similar to present times. Why the catastrophic release of methane did not happen that time, and why it should happen now?
http://www.climate4you.com/images/MAAT%2070-90N%20HadCRUT3%20Since1900.gif

Denis Hopkins

The Earth does not orbit anything like the speed of light! or did i miss some irony?

Bruckner8

Yaakoba (12:52:01) :
The earth orbits the sun with the speed of light,

Ya lost me on that one.

Gary from Chicagoland

As Bill Clinton stated, “It’s the economy stupid”, less people can afford steak these days. As the cow population goes, so blows the methane!

rokshox

If warming –> methane –> more warming –> more methane –> …
Then why is the methane still there?

Richard Sharpe

When someone says something like this:

The earth orbits the sun at the speed of light,

I begin to doubt their competence and their sanity.

Polar bears and BBQ sauce

I see the concentration is in ppb.
So, CH4 is 25 times as potent at C02, but roughly 1/225 the concentration?

It’s all the fault of the evil neocons!

papertiger

Is it acceptable for me to highjack a methane thread?
As you might be aware snow has forced the postponement of game three of the Philadelphia Phillies-Colorado Rockies playoff.
Already the AGW propaganda machine is spinning up damage control, scheduling the cartoon feature Ice Age: The Meltdown as alternative broadcasting.
I want them to go bonkers trying to dream up new coverups!
So inspite of my lifelong love affair with the Oakland A’s for the remainder of this season I am a Rockies fan.
Hope you become a Rockies fan too.

Smokey, that is a funny graphic. Sometimes I wonder, how can people be THAT stupid! But obviously, people are THAT stupid. The last paragraph in that graphic was hilarious. Like the global warming advocates, it starts with an unprovable idea and extrapolates from there.

tallbloke

Would it be easier to list the elements and compounds we don’t need to worry about?
Just asking.

@yaakoba
You got some of the numbers right, but missed a few decimal points on the “speed of earth orbiting the sun.”
And it’s a dang good thing, too, because if the earth were traveling at the speed of light, a lot of REALLY weird things would be happening, per Einstein’s special theory of relativity.
Speed of light is roughly 186,000 miles per second. (300,000 kilometers/sec)
Earth’s orbital speed is approximately 18.6 miles per second.
(Calculate the circumference of a circle (earth’s orbit) using 93 million miles as the radius, and the time to orbit the sun as 365.25 days. Divide the circumference (in miles) by the time (convert that to seconds) and the result is 18.6 miles per second). Here endeth the lesson.
Gotta watch those pesky decimal places…they make a difference from time to time…

a jones

The IPCC declared that human activity was responsible for most methane emissions whih why when the rise in methnane level stopped some years ago many AGW proponents were dismayed. After all there jsut as many cows and sheep as before.
The idea that melting permafrost would release huge amounts of CO2 and methane also has little merit. Frozen soil is biologically inactive but once it warms biological processes start so vast releases do not occur. The CO2 Science website has an excellent archive on this.
As for releases from undersea methane hydrates the pressure is too great and deep ocean temperatures too cold for any change in temperature above the thermocline to affect them.
Kindest Regards

MarkB

Can there be a thread here without someone asking if they can hijack it?
How about getting your own blog – no one cares about your bright ideas.

Al Gore's Holy Hologram

Smokey, it’s too bad that sea level rise like that won’t happen in that region. They already have problems with water supply and coastal towns attract more tourism than inland towns. Sea level rise would be a boon for Israel and its neighbours! 🙂

Back2Bat

CH4 + 2O2 = CO2 + 2H2O
Has anyone considered that methane burns?

Bryan

RE:
Yaakoba (12:52:01) :
Do you think that it is really possible for anything to have an exact target; such as hitting the moon with a rocket since the moon is in a constant orbiting motion? The earth orbits the sun with the speed of light, the moon is smaller than earth and it is orbiting slower than earth plus it is rotating on it’s axis at a very slow rate. Plus all this is dependent on the gravity of the sun. Earth rotates on it’s axis at 1,000 miles in one hour, all planets in our galaxy are insync with earths rotation; all this stuff is traveling so fast in the universe that it seems almost impossible to be able to hit a target since there is constant motion.
The earth orbits the sun at the speed of light, the moon orbits the earth; plus all these other planets are in constant orbiting motion, yet connected to the rotation of the earth.
It looks in my mind like all this stuff works like the internal structure of a big wrist watch
The Earth orbits the Sun at a distance of approx 149,600,000k (r)
The orbital diameter is thereby 299,200,000k (d)
The orbital circumfrence is 939,964,505k
There are 365.25 days in a year so the earth travels 2,573,482.5k per day
or 107,243k per hour (you are currently traveling at this speed around the sun even if you are in orbit around the earth)
The moon orbits the earth at a distance of 384,000k (r)
The orbital diameter is thereby 768,000k (d)
The orbital circumfrence is 2,412,743
There are 29.5 days in the lunar cycle (granted the sidreal period is slightly shorter) so the moon travels 81,788k per day.
So traveling to the moon requires approx 2 days travel time so we just need to aim 160,000k ahead of the moons location to hit it

Has anyone explained adequately the creation of methane calthrates on the ocean floor? I can’t seem to find anything that speaks of CO2 sequestration in deep ocean water to form methane without the inference of decaying organic matter/sediment. Everything I find speaks of breaking down methane CH4 to make CO2 + H2O. http://www.nationmaster.com/encyclopedia/Methane
Is it possible that under the high pressure on the ocean bottoms that CO2 reacts via some chemcial vs organic process using H2O to become CH4 and liberates O2? (CO2 + H2O -> CH4 + O2)

bhalligan

If Peter L. Ward (not Peter D. Ward) is correct, SO2 is a major atmospheric driver of climate change, and CO2 is a bit player. (See http://www.tetontectonics.org/Climate.html ) If SO2 levels start to rise again because of “unscrubbed” coal-fired plants being built in China and India, we are likely to see increasing methane levels again due to decreasing oxidizing capacity of the atmosphere. This will give AGW supporters new life and support to their real agenda, social/political change. Ward’s hypothesis should be looked at seriously by CO2 skeptics since, if he is correct, changes due to SO2 may be interpreted by the press and the public as being caused by CO2 with resultant huge social/political/economic consequences. Give it a read.

tallbloke

dscott (14:39:40) :
Has anyone explained adequately the creation of methane calthrates on the ocean floor?

Look! A real experiment!
http://www.mbari.org/ghgases/geochem/gas_hydrates.htm

Michael

When objects approach the speed of light they crush themselves to death. Can I say this without sounding stupid?

commieBob

Would someone please explain to me how methane absorbs more heat into the atmosphere than is already absorbed by water vapor.
I found absorption spectra for various atmospheric gasses at the following link.
http://motls.blogspot.com/2007_06_01_archive.html
AFAICT, methane has absorption at around 8 um. This seems to be completely within one of water’s absorption bands. The blackbody radiation of the earth is somewhere around there (albeit mostly longer wavelengths).
Looking at the graph, it appears that all the radiation at around 8 um will be absorbed whether methane is present or not.
What am I missing here? At least carbon dioxide can absorb energy in a band where water doesn’t otherwise absorb all the available radiation.

Carbone

@ Roger Sowell
It’s not about decimal places. It’s about common sense.

George Bruce

Yeah, the melting permafrost is just bubbling with the stuff. That is why if you go up there and light a match……………

Dodgy Geezer

“CH4 + 2O2 = CO2 + 2H2O
Has anyone considered that methane burns?”
Back2Bat
Indeed. That was why, some time ago, The Register pointed out that a really committed Green would carry a small cigarette lighter everywhere, to light his farts….

Andrew

Gas (oil) companies have spent a lot of time and effort to reduce venting of natural gas (methane) over the last decade or so. Maybe this is a partial explanation of why the rate of increase has slowed?

R Taylor

dscott (14:39:40) :
Has anyone explained adequately the creation of methane calthrates on the ocean floor? I can’t seem to find anything that speaks of CO2 sequestration in deep ocean water to form methane without the inference of decaying organic matter/sediment. Everything I find speaks of breaking down methane CH4 to make CO2 + H2O. http://www.nationmaster.com/encyclopedia/Methane
Is it possible that under the high pressure on the ocean bottoms that CO2 reacts via some chemcial vs organic process using H2O to become CH4 and liberates O2? (CO2 + H2O -> CH4 + O2)
____________________________________________
I’m sure there are some good references on this that we could find without too much trouble, but my rough understanding is that some bacteria release methane as they decomponse organic material on the ocean floor, and methane acts as a nucleus to water molecules in a structure that freezes at deep-ocean temperatures. By the way, we might speculate that a higher-than-typical amount of energy is being sequestered on the ocean floor at present, bound up in carbohydrate and methane, as high levels of atmospheric CO2 spur photosynthesis in the surficial ocean.

Yaakoba

Thank you Roger and Bryan for the clarification.
In police work it is virtually impossible to shoot the target of a moving object.

Terryskinner

I always thought the stuff about methane was the most ridiculous part of AGW. Sure there are now millions and millions of cows, sheep etc. But they are feeding on the same pastures that not so long ago fed Mammoths, Woolly Rhinos, Mastodonts, Bison, Aurochs and goodness knows how many millions of other animals that are sadly no longer with us.

papertiger

MarkB (14:16:15) :
Can there be a thread here without someone asking if they can hijack it?
How about getting your own blog – no one cares about your bright ideas.

Somone rolled out of the wrong side of the bed this morning.
If you don’t care, you should. There is an unending stream of propaganda outlets ready to repeat global warming swill without batting an eye.
The reality is an orphan.
Today mother nature gave our orphan a break in the form of the Colorado Rockies.
Imagine if they make it all the way to the World Series!
God I hope. Go Rockies!

Genghis

” Michael (14:51:41) :
When objects approach the speed of light they crush themselves to death. Can I say this without sounding stupid?”
No

Methane Monster

…rather than “beast”
perhaps?

tallbloke

Terryskinner (16:11:42) :
Mammoths, Woolly Rhinos, Mastodonts, Bison, Aurochs and goodness knows how many millions of other animals that are sadly no longer with us.

That’s our fault too dontcha know.

Nick Stokes

Andrew (15:26:09) has a good point about reduced natural gas losses. This 2006 Nature letter notes the same slower rise in methane, and quantifies the causes. They say it is mainly due to anthropogenic factors, with wetlands emission adding to the ups and downs.

Curiousgeorge

About those cows. Part of the AGW mystic is the push for “Organic” farming. Which means no more industrial fertilizer (which is made primarily from that nasty old fossil fuel ). Which means that in order to properly fertilize the farm land to grow enough food to feed nearly 7 billion people, we would need an additional 4 billion cows crapping on it. Hmmm. How about that? Steak and eggs anyone? 🙂

Ray

Can we plot the methane concentration as well as the curve for mad cow disease? Maybe there is a correlation there?!?

Ron de Haan
Back2Bat

‘ “When objects approach the speed of light they crush themselves to death. Can I say this without sounding stupid?”
“No” ‘

But what if their increased mass causes them to become black holes?
But in any case, behold the products of the government school system.
Liberty anyone?

Methane hydrates/clathrates won’t be released unless either a lot of ocean water gets sequestered in glacial ice (i.e. we get a new ice age to lower sea levels), which will lower water pressure in the deep seas, or else a magma incursion occurs in the area of a sizable methane deposit.
As for arctic warming, a warming from -30 to -29 isn’t going to release anything. The 2007 blip might be related to the large arctic sea ice melting (lot of methane seeping up from the sea floor gets trapped in the ice) but that was a one time release, the ice is reforming, the polar bears are happy, all is well.
One reason for the drop in methane may be that with the reducing in prevalence of toxic pesticides in the watershed, more organisms are able to fill out the ecological pyramid so more plant matter is being processed through to CO2 rather than inefficiently as methane.
As for proxies, frankly I wouldn’t be surprised to see some climatologist to create a “UFO Proxy” that measures the rate of methane release by the number of UFO sightings, on the rationale that most UFO sightings are methane swamp gas releases…

Ron de Haan

“Methane consuming archaeobacteria and sulfate-reducing bacteria, acting together, are responsible for consuming most of the methane in the world’s oceans, according to a team of microbiologists and geoscientists. “Past research had shown that there is a consortia of these two very different single-celled organisms, and indirect tests indicated they might be the source of methane consumption,” said Dr. Christopher H. House, assistant professor of geosciences at Penn State”.
http://www.spaceref.com/news/viewpr.html?pid=5566

Larry Sheldon

I keep asking this off-topic question, but nobody will even yell at me for, being Off Topic.

What is the connection between the sulfates-that-are-good-for-the-AGW-problem, and the SO4 that made the acid rain that was killing the trees and all?

tallbloak and Taylor, thank you for the info. So based on experimentation we know that free floating CH4 in high pressure salt water will turn into a hydrate.
Now how does the CO2 become CH4 at these depths? Other than organic, is there any chemical process in which CO2 + 2(H20) (under high pressure) become CH4 + 2(O2)? Are we saying most if not all the free floating CH4 forming these hydrates comes from decaying organic matter?

Antonio San

The Canadian Press represented by reporter Bob Weber ran a piece in the Globe and Mail entitled “bubbling cauldrons of gas” in September and quoted Andrew Weaver stating that the IPCC had not taken Methane in their predictions…
Let’s quote: “But one thing is certain: The fact it hasn’t been factored into previous global warming predictions means forecasts even as recent as the 2007 report from the Intergovernmental Panel of Climate Change are too conservative.
“[Methane] was not considered in any of the predictions at all,” says Andrew Weaver, a Canadian researcher and one of the IPCC authors. ”
Yet it is clear IPCC had projections for Methane, in clear contradiction with Weaver’s comment. Page 37 of the SYR AR4 2007 report, Methane is clearly mentioned. Did the Canadian Press amend their story in any way? Nope.

crosspatch

Mike Lorrey:

The 2007 blip might be related to the large arctic sea ice melting

There was no large amount of ice melting in the arctic in 2007. What happened was that unusually strong winds from an unusual direction blew a lot of arctic ice (it floats so can be blown by wind) into the Atlantic where it melted. Nothing about the reduction of ice in 2007 was related to temperature in the arctic.

Paul Penrose

[‘ “When objects approach the speed of light they crush themselves to death. Can I say this without sounding stupid?”
“No” ‘
But what if their increased mass causes them to become black holes?]
Neither one of you understand relativity at all.

Pamela Gray

I thought my bf was a lot quieter these past couple years. And you can’t argue with figure 2.
As for fewer cows due to the economic downturn. Not so. Ranchers cut down on insemination and keep yearlings for a year instead of sending them to slaughter. Supply and demand is thus equalized and the overall size of the herd is maintained.