Methane, The Panic Du Jour

Guest post by Steven Goddard

Cartoon by Josh: www.cartoonsbyjosh.com

The climate panic headline this week has been that the warming Arctic is burping out dangerous quantities of greenhouse gas Methane.

Published on Friday, March 5, 2010 by Agence France Presse

Huge Methane Leak in Arctic Ocean: Study

WASHINGTON – Methane is leaking into the atmosphere from unstable permafrost in the Arctic Ocean faster than scientists had thought and could worsen global warming, a study said Thursday.  From 2003 to 2008, an international research team led by University of Alaska-Fairbanks scientists Natalia Shakhova and Igor Semiletov surveyed the waters of the East Siberian Arctic Shelf, which covers more than 772,200 square miles (two million square kilometers) of seafloor in the Arctic Ocean. “This discovery reveals a large but overlooked source of methane gas escaping from permafrost underwater, rather than on land,” the study said. “More widespread emissions could have dramatic effects on global warming in the future.”

Methane is 30X more potent a greenhouse than CO2, so this sounds very alarming. Or does it?  From the New York Times:

Dr. Shakhova said that undersea methane ordinarily undergoes oxidation as it rises to the surface, where it is released as carbon dioxide. But because water over the shelf is at most about 50 meters deep, she said, the gas bubbles to the surface there as methane. As a result, she said, atmospheric levels of methane over the Arctic are 1.85 parts per million, almost three times as high as the global average of 0.6 or 0.7 parts per million.

The first problem with the statement is that it is incorrect.  The average global methane concentration is ~1.8 ppm, (1786 ppb) not 0.6 ppm as seen below in this graph from NOAA:

http://www.noaanews.noaa.gov/stories2008/images/methanetrend.jpg

http://www.noaanews.noaa.gov/stories2008/images/methanetrend.jpg

The author also says that the Arctic is belching out nearly eight million tons of methane per annum.

She estimated that annual methane emissions from the East Siberian Arctic Shelf total about seven teragrams. (A teragram is 1.1 million tons.)

Sounds like a big number – except that burping/flatulating cattle produce ten times more methane than the Arctic.  According to the EPA:

Globally, ruminant livestock produce about 80 million metric tons of methane annually

Is 1.85 ppm a large number?  Let’s look at an analogy of what a population concentration of 1.85 parts per million really represents.  If the population of Wyoming (544,270) represented all the molecules in the atmosphere, there would be only one methane molecule in the entire state.  At 1.85 ppm, there would be fifteen methane molecules in New York City, out of population eight million.  There would be on average zero in Nunavut, Canada.

I wonder how much methane Taco Bell indirectly generates per annum?  I also wonder why so many Arctic/Greenland studies include only the years 2003-2008. Perhaps they are only interested in reporting data from unusually warm years in the Arctic?

Speaking of the Arctic. What is up with this?

http://nsidc.org/data/seaice_index/images/daily_images/N_timeseries.png

Methane, The Panic Du Jour

The climate panic headline this week has been that the warming Arctic is burping out dangerous quantities of greenhouse gas Methane.

Published on Friday, March 5, 2010 by Agence France Presse

Huge Methane Leak in Arctic Ocean: Study

WASHINGTON – Methane is leaking into the atmosphere from unstable permafrost in the Arctic Ocean faster than scientists had thought and could worsen global warming, a study said Thursday.  From 2003 to 2008, an international research team led by University of Alaska-Fairbanks scientists Natalia Shakhova and Igor Semiletov surveyed the waters of the East Siberian Arctic Shelf, which covers more than 772,200 square miles (two million square kilometers) of seafloor in the Arctic Ocean. “This discovery reveals a large but overlooked source of methane gas escaping from permafrost underwater, rather than on land,” the study said. “More widespread emissions could have dramatic effects on global warming in the future.”

Methane is 30X more potent a greenhouse than CO2, so this sounds very alarming. Or does it?  From the New York Times:

Dr. Shakhova said that undersea methane ordinarily undergoes oxidation as it rises to the surface, where it is released as carbon dioxide. But because water over the shelf is at most about 50 meters deep, she said, the gas bubbles to the surface there as methane. As a result, she said, atmospheric levels of methane over the Arctic are 1.85 parts per million, almost three times as high as the global average of 0.6 or 0.7 parts per million.

The first problem with the statement is that it is incorrect.  The average global methane concentration is 1.8 ppm, not 0.6 ppm.

http://www.noaanews.noaa.gov/stories2008/images/methanetrend.jpg

The author also says that the Arctic is belching out nearly eight million tons of methane per annum.

She estimated that annual methane emissions from the East Siberian Arctic Shelf total about seven teragrams. (A teragram is 1.1 million tons.)

Sounds like a big number – except that burping/flatulating cattle produce ten times more methane than the Arctic.  According to the EPA:

Globally, ruminant livestock produce about 80 million metric tons of methane annually

Is 1.85 ppm a large number?  Let’s look at an analogy of what a population concentration of 1.85 parts per million really represents.  If the population of Wyoming (544,270) represented all the molecules in the atmosphere, there would be only one methane molecule in the entire state.  At 1.85 ppm, there would be fifteen methane molecules in New York City, out of population eight million.  There would be on average zero in Nunavut, Canada.

I wonder how much methane Taco Bell indirectly generates per annum?  I also wonder why so many Arctic/Greenland studies include only the years 2003-2008. Perhaps they are only interested in reporting data from unusually warm years in the Arctic?

Speaking of the Arctic. What is up with this?

http://nsidc.org/data/seaice_index/images/daily_images/N_timeseries.png

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208 thoughts on “Methane, The Panic Du Jour

  1. Let’s assume that the methane emissions in the Arctic is “worse than we thought”. Doesn’t that mean that the sensitivity of the climate is likely less than was previously modeled, since a huge source of greenhouse gas was not accounted for, with apparently little effect?

  2. I thought Steller’s sea cow was extinct, but perhaps some are surviving in the arctic, emitting dangerous amounts of methane. It’s time to hunt them down and make the extinction permanent!
    Also, how can global warming affect the temperature of the sea floor under 150 feet of water and a layer of floating ice?
    Hrm… Unless the bottom sediments are being distrubed BY GRAZING SEA COWS!

  3. If Methane ice is held in solid form in the Gulf of Mexico, How does methane escape from the Arctic??

  4. This is what I really hate about some of the science around Climate Change, there is an almost pathological attempt to _not_ put things in a global context. Without context the study sounds frightening, but once you put it in the global context (plus whatever nature is burping, winding, or decomposing out) it turns into something a lot less frightening.

  5. aw man…. after that earthquake shortened our days I was gettin’ all set up to point the cows to the east to give us a little…uhm…”push” to rev us back up again.
    I didn’t realize the bovine flatuence problem was that big. Guess I need a new plan now.

  6. Love that cartoon. So, let’s see, it’s a gigantic volume ….unless you compare it to the REALLY gigantic volume of bovine indigestion…. and this ultimately results in less than 2ppm? Oh! almost forgot… it’s UNSTABLE… and, of course, it’s worse than we thought. Can somebody check with Al to see how much longer we have now with this new info?

  7. “Speaking of the Arctic. What is up with this?”
    Obviously the guys cat ran across the table, bumped his arm, while he was drawing the little blue line.
    IDC will correct it next month.
    (love that cartoon!)

  8. One other thing- isn’t Catlin supposed to go on another search for the elusive
    Arctic Snipe of something like that?. I fear given this new paradigm of cold and
    Ice- it may not end as neatly as the last one….

  9. This shows yet another “tipping point” that we’ve already passed — without the expected catastrophe.
    After a third of a century of claims that the world will end any minute now, the rants are getting old.

  10. Notice with AGW promoters, it is always worse than thought?
    Google the term and see just how often it is used in the context of AGW promotion.

  11. Carbon-based life form (18:11:47) :
    Let’s assume that the methane emissions in the Arctic is “worse than we thought”. Doesn’t that mean that the sensitivity of the climate is likely less than was previously modeled, since a huge source of greenhouse gas was not accounted for, with apparently little effect?
    As this release has only just started it would suggest that Climate sensitivity is greater, as sea-floor release of Methane was not expected for some time yet.
    No doubt the accolades will start poring in for Climate scientists who have identified this extinction level threat to humanity, it is extinction level as the amount of methane stored would raise current methane levels by 300 times if released.

  12. I don’t understand: under what conditions does one have permafrost under the sea?

  13. This is precisely why I am now to the point, where, a scientist could come up to me and claim that the sun will rise tomorrow, and I wouldn’t believe them.
    Science has become worse than sad… 🙁

  14. The article says that earlier studies had looked at methane on land. So this is the first time they’ve looked at these waters. So they don’t know what is normal there.

  15. Does anyone here know where that assessment in the factsheet comes from that methane is 30 x stronger a greenhouse gas than carbondioxide?
    That would suggest that there is research done on carbon dioxide that has been (deliberately?) hidden for most of us.

  16. I went out yesterday and ate: 1 Xtra-garlic white pizza, three wheat
    laden beers, 2 hard boiled pickeled eggs and some chile for desert.
    I want to appologise for doubling the planets Methane……….
    Roger

  17. Again with the theoretical feedback mechanisms! If methane from melting permafrost was going to cause dangerous runaway global warming it would have already done so in the Medieval Warm Period. We would now be boiling, which is clearly not the case. This arctic methane study looks at a five year period in a localized area, with apparently no empirical, non proxy data for the same area in prior periods. The alarmists seem to be running out of even partially plausible material. The relative stability of Earths climate over thousands of years, with periods both slightly warmer and slightly cooler than today should be indication enough that these claims of dangerous feedbacks have no basis in reality.

  18. I just explained to my German Shepherd dog, Charlie, that by being a stinker he not only stinks but contributes a terrible greenhouse gas that will bring all of us to the point of no return and mass extinction.
    He was listening with apparent interest and attention, ears up.
    Then, he made three valid points:
    1) You’ve been telling me I can’t stink in the house, all these years. Now you are telling me I cannot do it outside, too? Where, then, I am supposed to do it? Are you going bunkers or something?
    2) Who are you to tell me all this, armchair geezer? Let’s go for a walk, or let me go chasing cats or do something worthwhile, instead of listening to your crazy monkey blah-blah.
    3) Now you know why dinosaurs died out. Just imagine, how much methane they produced! Experts have spoken, science is settled.

  19. Great post, Steven, as always.
    I am mystified by this where Dr. Shakhova would utter a glaring mistake. The quote: “As a result, she said, atmospheric levels of methane over the Arctic are 1.85 parts per million, almost three times as high as the global average of 0.6 or 0.7 parts per million.”
    Perhaps she was misquoted. Or is she misinformed? What gives? Steven….any explanations?
    Chris
    Norfolk, VA, USA

  20. Question???
    Is there perma frost in the ocean? I thought this is a land based event.
    Cartoon says it all…If you can’t hide it, Change It!!

  21. “Methane is leaking into the atmosphere from unstable permafrost in the Arctic Ocean faster than scientists had thought”
    A strange confession from a scientists. To me, this indicates we need scientists with larger imaginations since the present scientists can not accept current data.

  22. One wonders how the earth managed to survive before all the climate researchers were on the scene to worry about it.

  23. Not just cows for methane emissions. Several areas around the world have natural methane seeps, some from the ocean floor and some on land. There were literally Pillars of Fire when static electricity ignited the methane vents on land.
    One such methane vent is / was offshore Santa Barbara, California. Others occur regularly in the seas around Indonesia. The methane bubbles around Indonesia at times were so great that ships lost their buoyancy and sank.
    “Gas escaping from ocean floor may drive global warming. Press release (dtd 19 July 2006) from U.C. Santa Barbara. “Gas escaping from the ocean floor may provide some answers to understanding historical global warming cycles — and provide information on current climate changes according to a team of UCSB scientists. The findings are reported in the July 20 on-line version of the scientific journal, Global Biogeochemical Cycles. Remarkable and unexpected support for this idea occurred when divers and scientists observed and videotaped a massive blowout of methane from the ocean floor near Santa Barbara.” ” http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2006-07/uoc–gef071906.php
    Other natural methane sources are decomposing organic matter.
    So, how much is that methane from the Arctic, compared to all these?

  24. “I also wonder why so many Arctic/Greenland studies include only the years 2003-2008. ”
    didn’t the gravy train pull into the station around 2003 and start taking on passengers? 🙂

  25. Steven,
    Both scares, CO2 and Methane are pushed.
    CO2 = energy
    Methane = meat = food
    Energy Tax, Meat Tax, and so on and so on.
    Government is on it’s way to become man’s worst enemy (again).
    Oh Yes, the other scare: plastic!!!!

  26. I bet “big oil” will look at this research as indicating large reserves of gas & oil which are seeping slowly to the surface. They claim a small rise in atmospheric temperatures causes the bottom of the sea 50 metres down to warmup? This has been going on since the end of the last ice age, but they have only now discovered it, & in their stupidity think it is a new phenomenon. Tripe!

  27. It seems that not all the spectral data of methane is known or published, especially in the UV range. There is absorption in the near infra red, meaning it also cools. They can measure it as it bounces back from the moon:
    http://www.iop.org/EJ/article/0004-637X/644/1/551/64090.web.pdf?request-id=76e1a830-4451-4c80-aa58-4728c1d646ec
    Does anyone here know where that assessment in the factsheet comes from that methane is 30 x stronger a greenhouse gas than carbondioxide?
    That would suggest that there is research done on carbon dioxide that has been (deliberately?) hidden for most of us
    Even if it is true that methane is 30 times stronger than CO2, we now know that the warming caused by CO2 is very little or nothing, and as far as the concentration is concerned: 1.8 ppm even at x 30 is still not that much compared to 390 ppm CO2

  28. Re
    “Speaking of the Arctic. What is up with this?”
    I have been comparing the slope of thr arctic ice extent with the DMI Polar temperature changes lately and (not a total surprise) they have been tracking well. Large changes in temperature seems to coincide with changes in slope of the extent curve’ Note the recent temperature drop on this DMI plot:
    http://ocean.dmi.dk/arctic/meant80n.uk.php
    and the sharp increase in the slope of the extent curve.
    Of course other considerations like wind and ocean currents cannot be ignored

  29. Henry Pool (19:11:36) : “Does anyone here know where that assessment in the factsheet comes from that methane is 30 x stronger a greenhouse gas than carbondioxide?”
    I’ve seen this sort of claim for years, and finally decided to look it up:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Global_warming_potential
    If a gas stays in the atmosphere a long time, absorbs at IR wavelengths not already absorbed by the atmosphere, and is at the low end of its approximately logarithmic absorption curve (i.e. its effect isn’t saturated), then it has a relatively high “global warming potential”. Methane’s direct GWP, however, is a relatively short-lived effect, because its half-life in the atmosphere is on the order of 7 years.
    And since I’m a whimsical kind of guy, that inpired a vision of a buxom Hollywood starlet watching the DVD of “An Inconvenient Truth”; the phone rings, she answers, and a raspy voice says “You will die in seven years.” 🙂

  30. You gotta just love science by press release! Observe the careful wording linking “unstable permafrost” & “global warming” into a methane discharge in the ocean waters. Do we have any comparison to previous levels of discharge in the same area? And by the way, how does methane leak from permafrost under the water?
    Fie on the media outlets that have the stupidity to pick this piece of garbage up.

  31. What about ‘calthates’? These wanky Lefty people won’t stop until they have their tax-grab, big Government in place, Worldwide.

  32. I’m sure this has never occurred ever in the entire history of the planet earth, and I know it’s worse than we thought! Furthermore, I’m sure it’s all bad, and that humans are most definitely responsible!

  33. “Speaking of the Arctic. What is up with this?”
    Jaxa tends to run a little ahead of NSIDC and the spike in their chart looks like it may be starting to flatten;
    http://www.ijis.iarc.uaf.edu/en/home/seaice_extent.htm
    But Arctic temps are still below average;
    http://ocean.dmi.dk/arctic/meant80n.uk.php
    And if you check out the 10 day weather forecast for Anchorage;
    http://www.weather.com/weather/tenday/USAK0012
    Arctic Sea Ice may have several more days to grow…

  34. I know there is a difference between aerobic and anaerobic conditions, but what happens to the grass that the cows do not eat and that decays under the snow? Or all the dead leaves. Does this stuff not emit methane as it decays?

  35. 6 March: Hindustan Times: Global Warming has no impact on Himalayas claims Wadia Director
    Senior scientists at the Wadia Institute of Himalayan Geology (WITG) has rejected the Global Warming Theory and told that the Himalayas are quite safer zone on earth, where Global Warming has no role in controlling the conditions.
    In an exclusive chat with HT, Director WIHG Dr AK Dubey has said that the conditions of Himalayas are controlled by the winter snowfall rather than external factors like much hyped Global Warming. He told that for a concrete result, at least 30 years of continuous research with steady outcome is needed to confirm the actual impact.
    “According to a data for over 140 years available with a British weather observatory situated in Mukteswar (2311m) in Almora has actually revealed that temperature in that region witnessed a dip of .4 degrees,” he said….
    http://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/northindia/Global-Warming-has-no-impact-on-Himalayas-claims-Wadia-Director/Article1-515763.aspx

  36. savethesharks,
    Thanks. I don’t know if the 6ppm error is the error of the report authors or the NYT authors. I also suspect that the level of alarm has been amplified by the press – as usual.

  37. The phase angle between Warmists and Objective Reality has got to be approaching Pi over two.
    Getting closer to Pi imo.

  38. Well, I gather no one has ever made measurements of methane in this region before, so this is a baseline measurement. The question, is the amount of methane increasing, stable, or decreasing compared to previous times? Considering the region has been under water for >7,000 years following the ice melt during the early Holocene Optimum, I predict that someone will devise a computer prediction model to demonstrate the change of methane release over time, past and future. Does anyone doubt it will have a hockey stick shape?

  39. “More widespread emissions could have dramatic effects on global warming in the future.”
    ===============
    More widespread arrogance will cost you
    your senate/house seat, and have dramatic effects
    on global warming policy in the future.

  40. Plants emit CH4 in the sun’s ultraviolet light:
    “Recently, Keppler et al. (2006) published results
    from laboratory experiments indicating that living plants,
    plant litter and the structural plant component pectin emit
    methane to the atmosphere under aerobic conditions. These
    findings are heavily debated, since they have far-reaching implications,
    mainly for two reasons: (1) It is generally believed
    that the reduced compound CH4 can only be produced naturally
    from organic matter in the absence of oxygen, or at high
    temperatures, e.g. in biomass burning, and in fact no mechanism
    for an “aerobic” production process has been identified
    at the molecular level. (2) The first extrapolations from the
    laboratory measurements to the global scale indicated that
    these emissions could constitute a large fraction of the total
    global emissions of CH4.

    http://www.biogeosciences.net/5/937/2008/bg-5-937-2008.pdf
    Also: “Looking at methane sources in the right light”
    http://www.physorg.com/news131120248.html

  41. Re: Permafrost – At pressures found over extensive portions of the ocean bottom, water molecules can freeze around the nucleus of a methane molecule. Frozen mixture is known as clathrate.

  42. I’ll take climate apocalypses for 100 Art.
    “…faster than scientists had thought…”
    What are METHANE apocalypses?
    I’ll take climate apocalypses for 200 Alex…

  43. 4 Billion,
    Was there any proof offered that this release “has only just started” or is it conjecture?
    It sounds a lot like the breathless reports of “more polar bears seen swimming in open ocean” that just so happened to coincide with more scientists in the arctic looking for signs of global warming.
    As far as I’m concerned this is another Summer of the Sharks story until proven otherwise.

  44. Two greenhouse gasses, both in the Arctic
    Methane: CH4 (lighter than air)
    Ozone: O3 (unstable)
    CH4 + 2 O3 -> 2 H2O + CO2 + O2
    H2O: strong green house gas, but low residence time in atmosphere
    CO2: weaker greenhouse gas than CH4
    O2: not a greenhouse gas
    So, does methane in the arctic reduce the greenhouse effect?

  45. About the second chart (ice extent):
    How long will it be before they include the “lowest ever” ’06-’07 season in with a new average?
    How would the current season look if the averaging period went from ’79 to 2008/09 (closer to a 30 year period instead of the current 21 years)?
    In other words, how much lower would the average period go if the data started earlier and ended later? Are they only breaking out the latest years to show the alarm?
    This is the problem with those who hold the data – they can do the averages and charts to show the “worst ever” ideas.

  46. Steve Goddard said: “I also suspect that the level of alarm has been amplified by the press – as usual.”
    Yeah the press really does inject undue amplification, do they not?
    They take a weak ember and unnaturally fan it…until it is a forest fire.
    They know all about positive feedback [at least from a misinformation standpoint, they invented it]….as that type of “forcing” is the only way the story can survive.
    Sheesh. Maybe just like carbon taxes, industries like Taco Bell [haha….I caught that….very funny] should be forced to pay methane credits.
    Maybe every authentic Mexican restaurant in the USA and abroad should be levied the “bean tax.”
    Etc…..ad nauseum…..and ad “fartum”…..
    Chris
    Norfolk, VA, USA

  47. And to continue the methane scare – compare it to a more potent greenhouse gas: H20.
    How much more potent is that?
    Use your population of Wyoming scenario to show water molecules. How many there?

  48. So now cows will have to be classified as Weapons of Mass Destruction?
    Or perhaps Weapons of Gastric Ruption?
    I feel a dodgy dossier coming on…

  49. savethesharks (19:31:06) :
    Great post, Steven, as always.
    I am mystified by this where Dr. Shakhova would utter a glaring mistake. The quote: “As a result, she said, atmospheric levels of methane over the Arctic are 1.85 parts per million, almost three times as high as the global average of 0.6 or 0.7 parts per million.”
    Perhaps she was misquoted. Or is she misinformed? What gives? Steven….any explanations?
    Chris
    Norfolk, VA, USA
    ==============
    In the official news release, she doesn’t say atmospheric levels of methane over the Arctic are almost three times as high as the global average.
    http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2010-03/nsf-mrf030410.php
    I think the NYTimes misread the news release, but it wasn’t entirely the writers fault. The way one paragraph in the release was written, the “0.6 or 0.7 parts per million” could be interpreted as the current global average.

  50. When a ‘worse than imagined’ natural source of greenhouse gas emissions is found. Doesn’t that automatically imply that the human source of greenhouse gas emissions must be ‘less than imagined’. Have have all the climate models now been recalibrated to account for this previously underestimated source of greenhouse gas.

  51. rbateman (20:25:57) said:
    “Here is something unalarming:
    http://www.robertb.darkhorizons.org/TempGr/AshOre1.GIF
    Ashland, Ore. from 1888 to 2009 High/Average/Low
    Looks like a long-term 45-55 year cycle on the high temps.
    Dec. 2009 is estimated, so it will probably go lower.
    Dagnabbit, I can’t find no AGW.”
    Well of course, Rob. You can’t merely rely upon real-world observations.
    You have to look at the models. Has this data set been extrapolated through the Global Circulation Models? If not, it is worthless.
    Real-time, real world data is not important. Everybody knows that the GCMs are predicting catastrophic warming, so it does not matter what the observations tell us.
    Also, in regards to the allowable methane budget for Ashland… Please provide a list of the gas-producing joints located there [Del Taco….etc]…as we need to evaluate whether or not the town has eclipsed its methane budget for the year.
    Also, new EPA law dictates that sensitive state of the art fart-monitors shall be placed within a 10 mile radius of the town, or the town will lose its federal “damage” funding for all the business and revenue lost in complying with the new CO2 rules and regs.
    Thank you for your compliance.
    Chris
    Norfolk, VA, USA

  52. Shakhova and Semiletov might be suffering from the same “exposure deficit syndrome” as Jane Ferrigno of USGS
    Like the Russians, Jane was recycling 3-year old data to say it’s “worse than we thought”, the loss of Antarctic sea ice is “happening faster than ever before”, and could “cause sea level to rise 62 meters”. Jane reported the loss of “20,000 sq km of ice over 20 years” which is “bigger than Texas”
    Except it is not . . . . not even close by an order of magnitude.
    Also like the Russians, Jane presents no evidence that air temps in Antarctica have anything to do with sea ice but asserts there must be a cause-effect connection. Gee, don’t you just think sea water would be a bit more effective in melting ice than sub-zero air?
    And BTW the reported loss is a pittance against 13 million sq km average ice extent.
    Cry WOLF! Cry WOLF!

  53. henry,
    Good question about H2O. Water vapor varies a lot, but assuming a not atypical concentration of 1%, there would be over five thousand molecules in the Wyoming analogy – compared to one molecule of CH4.

  54. Gary P (20:04:02) : “I know there is a difference between aerobic and anaerobic conditions, but what happens to the grass that the cows do not eat and that decays under the snow? Or all the dead leaves. Does this stuff not emit methane as it decays?”
    Oh, but Gary, it’s rottin’ methane.

  55. Excellent summary -despite some usual stylistic rhetorics- of the Methane question on… yes, Realclimate!!!
    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2010/03/arctic-methane-on-the-move/
    I quote David Archer:
    “Is now the time to get frightened? No. ”
    “What’s missing from these studies themselves is evidence that the Siberian shelf degassing is new, a climate feedback, rather than simply nature-as-usual, driven by the retreat of submerged permafrost left over from the last ice age. ”
    “The concentration held steady in 2008, meaning at least that interannual variability is important in the methane cycle, and making it hard to say if the long-term average emission rate is rising in a way that would be consistent with a new carbon feedback.”
    “Anyway, so far it is at most a very small feedback. The Siberian Margin might rival the whole rest of the world ocean as a methane source, but the ocean source overall is much smaller than the land source. ”
    “For methane to be a game-changer in the future of Earth’s climate, it would have to degas to the atmosphere catastrophically, on a time scale that is faster than the decadal lifetime of methane in the air. So far no one has seen or proposed a mechanism to make that happen.”
    So perhaps all the MSM that propped up this study as the new scare should, for once, have read realclimate…
    Thanks climategate!

  56. savethesharks (20:46:09) :
    That’s just raw COOP data with Grants Pass, Ore data adusted up or down to fit the 365 day graphs for missing months when I can’t find any monthly AMS data. Otherwise I do like E.M.Smith suggests, and figure a missing day in between the previous and following days.
    I might do Crescent City, CA next to see the N. Pacific Ocean effect.
    100 yr+ data tends to shut the trends up.
    Oops, can’t get no AGW stuff that way.

  57. And do we really need to worry about methane from cattle? The historic population of bison in North America was upwards of 75 million. There are currently 96 million cattle in America. Doesn’t seem this disparity would account for much more methane.
    Want to point fingers? How ’bout India? They’ve got 281 million cattle, for almost 30% of the world cattle population. But they produce green, renewable energy in the form of dung, which is burned for fuel.
    Now that’s green energy!

  58. You know, water at depth should always be the same temperature of 4C …assuming it’s deep enough. What was this? 50M? Hmmmm. Even if there were deeper areas, you would think a carpet of 4 degree water would be hovering along the ocean floor, even if migrating to a lower depth.

  59. More methane would have been released from bombed gas mains in one month of World War two. Nothing much happened in those years except some very cold winters. mmm
    The methane burping livestock is a bust. Total bovine numbers were higher in the iceage and all past eras. Thanks to our great efforts to control feral bison numbers, etc we now have more domestic cattle than wild equivalent. The numbers in total should be down thanks to desertification and the fact that most cattle don’t live to maturity, yum. Hard numbers are hard to come by for many reasons.
    The major source of methane in Australia is termites in the subtropical northern savannah. Lets see the greenies fumigate hundreds of square kilometres of savannah.
    Also wont the big freeze in the northern hemisphere have chilled down the permafrost and stoped the methane powered doomsday clock? Or at least put it on snooze for awhile.

  60. NickB.
    “Was there any proof offered that this release “has only just started” or is it conjecture?”
    Shakhova et al 2007,
    “Until recently, due to slightly negative annual temperatures within the water column and the lid-type coverage of shelf sediments by sub-sea permafrost, old organic carbon buried on the Siberian Arctic shelf was considered completely isolated from the modern carbon cycle.”
    East Siberian Arctic Shelf is a similar size to the Siberian traps region, the Siberian traps event vented enough GHG’s to be linked to Permian–Triassic extinction event.
    So if the ESAS vents a large percentage of it’s Methane we may be in for interesting times, as the Siberian traps event gives some precedence for this scale of release.

  61. You guys are really gonna feel stupid when Joel signs on in a few minutes and explains that this is a very valuable study by Boris and Natasha…
    I hope Rocky and Bullwinkle will be ok…

  62. You folks are missing the obvious implications of methane clathrates in the arctic …
    As a greenhouse gas, methane is at least an order of magnitude more powerful than carbon dioxide. If we don’t do something, and soon, it will escape into the atmosphere. Therefore, what we need is a crash program to capture this pernicious substance and turn it into something more benign.
    I propose that the U.S. government subsidize ExxonMobil and other energy companies to mine methane clathrates — as much as we can, as soon as we can — pipe the methane south, and burn it in American power plants, so that the harmful CH4 becomes (relatively) harmless CO2. Of course, doing this will also reduce our dependence on foreign oil.
    Let’s do it! It’s a win-win solution!
    And anyone who disagrees with me is a Global Warming Denialist.

  63. Mark Wagner (18:26:41) :
    aw man…. after that earthquake shortened our days I was gettin’ all set up to point the cows to the east to give us a little…uhm…”push” to rev us back up again.
    I didn’t realize the bovine flatuence problem was that big. Guess I need a new plan now.

    A fairly minor investment in a few of those large boxes of matches should do the trick. Don’t you have any kids who would embrace the project ?? CO2 is so last year !!!

  64. Methane. No conclusions….but maybe the rise in modern times is related to the human population explosion, and that of our food supply.
    http://www.esrl.noaa.gov/gmd/education/lesson_plans/Methane%20and%20Populations-What's%20the%20connection.pdf
    Okay…..so we are “forced” to learn to adapt, like every other species has to do.
    I have heard about the brontosaurus farts and other scary smelly things. And if that is what did them in, then what a way to go, LOL.
    Nah in all seriousness, the overall impression…is that the earth self-regulates, and if the methane rise might be a wakeup call, then we need to adjust. But such “readjustments” have to be reasonable.
    Because I ain’t giving up my occasional flank or t-bone steak.
    That is not to say I should not attempt to reduce my “footprint” on this planet. I should, and I DO, and most rational humans agree that less pollution is good.
    The answer is EDUCATION.
    We are an opportunistic species and, frankly, from this standpoint, we are no better than fire ants, mold, or cockroaches.
    Rather….we are WORSE….because we have evolved consciences and rational brains and have a good sense of right and wrong….so there is NO excuse whatsoever.
    From that standpoint, I take to heart that the methane counts are higher than they have been in 400,000 years.
    But I also take to heart that we have earned our right to exist on this planet…and, without going overboard, we need to learn to adapt WITH nature….not against it.
    The point in all this is that, if methane is that high, and a good portion of it is truly anthropogenic (or “bovinepogenic”) then perhaps it is THIS tree we should be barking up, not the CO2 one.
    I can see Gore now….forming a new corporation that will be based upon the profit from the taxes imposed upon CH4.
    Just make sure your new book “Our Choice II” does not have a tropical cyclone spinning the wrong direction, or nobody would read it.
    Also….you might want to change your look, Al…as you look like you produce alot…ALOT…of methane.
    Again….to conclude….the real “inconvenient” truth is that Mother Earth self-regulates herself.
    Hopefully our limited time here as a species will not be a passing belch.
    Chris
    Norfolk, VA, USA

  65. Great post, Steve! Thanks, you beat me to it!
    This is getting embarrassing…if the desperate climatologists wanted to find methane, all they had to do was discuss the methane flux from Asian rice paddy agriculture (which was once identified on the UNFCCC website as the largest single source of anthropogenic climate change gases).
    *sigh* I had to explain to some of my panicked, liberal family today why this is NOT cause for suicidal ideation! As the AGW models continue to collapse, watch out for more of this stuff.

  66. New Zealand was foolish enough to take the IPCC at its word and signed up for big greenhouse gas reductions. As most of our greenhouse gas emissions come from burping and farting animals, New Zealand is pinning its hopes on meeting these targets on fixing the problem. Significant progress has been made with several different approaches about to enter field trials. These include a vaccine and a genetically modified grass.
    If methane is a real problem, there is a fix on the way.

  67. Worse? In what sense “worse”? What is the moral content of atmospheric methane at all realistically projected levels of concentrations? Does it not provide a buffer against cataclysmic upward and downward changes of temperature? Is it a potential resource to be mined by some future technology? Is it a poorly understood nutrient of the ecosystem?
    I’ll leave that as an open question. I have a divergent thought about sea ice: I have tried for ages to come up with a clear way of quantifying concisely what it means to say that global sea ice area really doesn’t show any trend. There is a detectable downward drift in the period for which data is recorded. One person will say it is simply a random walk while another will say, here we go over the falls…
    But what I’ve observed about the sea ice anomaly time series, which can be found here at Cryosphere Today is the following:
    In EVERY year since satellite data has been available, the sea ice anomaly statistic has both risen above and dropped below the 1979-2000 mean. That is, in any one calendar year during this period, one can find a day for which it is correct to say that the recorded global sea ice extent for that day is greater than the mean extent on that day during the baseline period, and another day for which the extend is less than the mean on that day during the baseline period.
    I say “baseline period” because that is what it is. To call this reference point the “normal” extent, as is often done, begs the question: what is so “normal” about the years 1979-2000 that argues for that period as a point of reference from which to measure cataclysmic change. But even if we grant such a thing, it is evident from the above observation that sea ice extent is not changing dramatically, as it does not wander from this “standard” in any year without returning to it in the same year and wandering for a period in the other direction too.

  68. Even RC is engaging in a little bit of eye-rolling re the Methane thing.
    The AO has gone from strongly negative to slightly positive in the last several days. . . and that’s why you’ve got that extent spike –the rubber band is snapping back a little.

  69. Methane, The Panic Du Jour?
    Apparently, Dr. Shakhova’s isn’t panicking over her methane study. The NYTimes concludes the article on the study with the following statements from her:
    But, “I am not the person to judge” whether the Arctic findings suggest that estimates of climate change in coming decades should be rewritten, she added.
    “I would not go so far as to suggest any implications,” she said. “We are at the very beginning of research.”
    If Dr. Shakhova isn’t panicking over her methane study, who is?

  70. Smokey (20:54:27) :
    Methane! Everybody Panic!! click>>
    If you had just told the story, I would not have believed you. I had to see it with my own eyes. I’m somewhere between shock, disbelief and just anger.
    So tomorrow AM, to make myself feel better, I am going to call PETA. I am going to tell them that the methane story is a hoax being perpetrated by Greenpeace to pressure everyone into becoming vegetarians and that their plan is to slaughter all the cattle and I want to know about their plan to SAVE THE CATTLE.
    Then I am going to phone the WWF and tell them that PETA is planning to release all the cattle into the countryside to prevent Greenpeace from slaughtering them, and I want to know what they are going to do because the countryside can’t support that many cattle and they will eat all the natural vegetation. I will ask what they are going to do to SAVE THE VEGETATION.
    Then I am going to phone Greenpeace and tell that there’s a new study out showing that natural grasslands produce 1000 times as much methane in bison, deer and antelope than domestic hay does. I will ask them what they are going to do to get rid of the natural vegetation and and how they are going to raise money to SAVE THE DEER AND BISON AND ANTELOPE.
    Should be a good day.

  71. Smokey (20:54:27) :
    Methane! Everybody Panic!!
    Well Smokey, since we have started the {GASP} tipping point of methane ice melting that predicted 80 meter sea level rise should start immediately and we will have absolute proof of CAGW.
    Of course if the sea levels don’t rise by 80 meters, or even 80 centimeters in the near term the AGW scientists are going to have to come up with another load of bovine output and labeled it science.
    Time to bookmark both of these articles so we can unearth them next year for a good laugh. We will probably need it.

  72. Hopefully this methane will save us from the next Ice Age, a mere 3,000 years away using averaging. It is easy to forget that the temperature of the earth would be 50 to 55 F without Fauna , volcanoes, and geologic captured gases. Our atmosphere is a bit thin for huge heat retention.

  73. “Ray Boorman (19:47:47) :
    I bet “big oil” will look at this research as indicating large reserves of gas & oil which are seeping slowly to the surface. …”
    ————————————————-
    You beat me too it. This was my first thought when reading this post. I’m a believer in the abiogenic theory of oil creation.

  74. Regards methane. Here in Australia, we have about one million feral camels. According to the UN carbon auditing method, the methane from feral camels is NOT considered for auditing purposes. BUT, the few thousand domestic camels, well, their methane IS counted. Feral farts are different from domestic farts apparently.
    Here on my small farm, I tried an experiment. (with disasterous results) I tied a pilot light to a steers backside to burn off the methane, but….. lots of fences to repair.
    Regards “it’s worse than we thought”.
    Australias own climate scientist, David “I’m not a media tart” Karoly, stated in an interview on the ABC radio that he and collegues had just finished a year long study of the affects of humans on climate and……..it’s worse than we stated in the IPCC 2007 report. Glaciers are melting faster due to warmth, permafrost is melting yada yada yada.
    First I laugh, then I shake my head, then I get angry. Best I go fix those fences and settle me down.

  75. DocWat (18:17:35) :
    If Methane ice is held in solid form in the Gulf of Mexico, How does methane escape from the Arctic??

    Teleconnection.
    Better get up there and start drilling to relieve the pressure.
    .
    Ian H (21:48:26) :
    …As most of our greenhouse gas emissions come from burping and farting animals, New Zealand is pinning its hopes on meeting these targets on fixing the problem. Significant progress has been made with several different approaches about to enter field trials. These include a vaccine and a genetically modified grass.
    You realize that if you modify the grass (Frankengrass?), you will not be able to export wool to Europe. They frown mightily on G.M. anything.

  76. You all have it wrong. It is the methane from my food scraps in landfill that will cause the end of the world.

  77. Junk science, junk press release writing. It has made the rounds in the German media as well. Greenpeace researchers?

  78. There was an eco thriller published recently, ‘Frozen Fire’ by Bill Evans & Marianne Jameson, published July 2009 which covered this very theme. Is research imitating art, or is this a new kind of marketing?
    The ‘unlocking frozen methane under the sea’ meme was I believe first explored in the 1978 book ‘Weather War’ by Leokum and Posnik. Ah, those were the days, when such tomes were listed next to Erich Von Daniken’s offerings, and not in ‘non-fiction’.

  79. The NYT article is incorrect, Shakhova states Methane levels over the last 400000 years have globally averaged 0.6-0.7 ppm during warm periods, not that the current Global levels are 0.6-0.7 ppm.

  80. @Steamboat McGoo (18:13:59) :
    “The phase angle between Warmists and Objective Reality has got to be approaching Pi over two.”
    ———
    Good analogy. It could also be stated that the Warmist’s reality is expressed as “i”, the square root of -1. Punch that equation into your calculator and see what you get.

  81. 4 Billion,
    The summary doesn’t give any explanation as to what supports their theory. Was the proposed melting of sub-ocean permafrost in this area observed/measured? Why did they feel this was unprecedented and could not be explained by natural processes – which should, after all, be the null hypothesis right?

  82. I posted this comment at Real Climate just yesterday evening GMT.
    ———
    #89 “From Co2 to methane, then what?
    Water Vapour, 40,000 parts per million.
    CO2, 360 parts per million
    Methane, 1.7 parts per million
    Comment by Jimbo — 7 March 2010 @ 6:25 PM”
    ———

  83. This is good news! It’s progress.
    Everyone can now breath a sigh of relief.
    However, don’t fart — that just proves you don’t love the planet.

  84. Subsea permafrost froze during the last glaciation, when sea levels were up to ~120m lower than today, and what is now the sea floor was exposed. It is a type of relict permafrost, insulated from melting by the sediment cover above it. There are other areas of relict permafrost south of the main band of permafrost in the Arctic.

  85. Nick B,
    From Spiegel, 2008,
    “Data from offshore drilling in the region, studied by experts at the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research (AWI), also suggest that the situation has grown critical. AWI’s results show that permafrost in the flat shelf (ESAS) is perilously close to thawing. Three to 12 kilometers from the coast, the temperature of sea sediment was -1 to -1.5 degrees Celsius, just below freezing. Permafrost on land, though, was as cold as -12.4 degrees Celsius. “That’s a drastic difference and the best proof of a critical thermal status of the submarine permafrost,” said Shakhova.”
    As to if this is normal, depends if you think the warming is normal.

  86. …And this methane has been leaking from the sea bed for – how long, exactly..? Something new, is it..?
    Its probably at its highest level ‘since records began’….
    As we speak – Al Gore must be trying to work out how he can make some money out of this – and the UK government will no doubt be working out how we can all be TAXED for it…

  87. I’ve seen a couple papers that used spectral analysis of downwelling longwave radiation, the principle element of the greenhouse effect, to determine the contribution of the various GHGs to the total signal. Based on the global avg numbers for CO2 and CH4, the measured values suggest the multiplier for CH4 relative to CO2 is somewhere between 6 and 10, nowhere near the 30 times that is always flouted. Admittedly the papers didn’t measure the atmospheric composition, so there might be some local variations in play, but unless local variability ranges over an order of magnitude or more, the 30X multiplier doesn’t look too good.

  88. 4 Billion,
    That’s a point in time measurement. You ask if I think warming is normal… there has been no measured/observed warming. This is just a point in time measurement. Is it scary the way you put it, yeah maybe… but I could just as easily take the same information to posit that since the last glaciation this permafrost has been warming at a rate roughly 1C per 1000 years.
    I think it’s also important to note that as close as it may be to thawing, there doesn’t appear to be evidence that it actually has begun to thaw. This could mean the leaks in question were caused by other phenomenon (seismic activity disturbing the protective layer, scientists drilling holes everywhere to look for signs of global warming ; )
    Have the ocean waters in the area warmed in recent years?

  89. “…worse than we thought”.
    How bad did they think it was in the first place, then?
    I think we should be told.

  90. “Karl Maki (19:34:09) :
    One wonders how the earth managed to survive before all the climate researchers were on the scene to worry about it.”
    And if we hadn’t invented supercomputers and satellites just in time we would be unaware of our impending doom. How lucky was that! 😉
    cheers David

  91. Great, the more the better, bring it on!
    Methane plus oxygen plus ignition equals heat and light and power and… CO2.
    CO2 has flatlined ffor its effect on temperature, log response, yeah?
    So what more responsible thing to do than convert all that nasty supposedly climate warming methane into neutral CO2?
    Note AGW is to be replaced by CGW where C represents whatever the appropriate word is instead of anthropogenic that says “it ain’t man but cows wot done it.”
    That also means we can carry on eating cows ‘cos if we don’t they’ll cause the planet to boil.
    That makes vergans climate criminals.
    Meanwhile, what are the ants doing?

  92. Nick B
    That would be alot of holes 😉
    Siberia is warming pretty fast with warm water runoff flowing out to sea, raising sea temp.
    From ‘The Independant’,
    “The preliminary findings of the International Siberian Shelf Study 2008, being prepared for publication by the American Geophysical Union, are being overseen by Igor Semiletov of the Far-Eastern branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences. Since 1994, he has led about 10 expeditions in the Laptev Sea but during the 1990s he did not detect any elevated levels of methane. However, since 2003 he reported a rising number of methane “hotspots”, which have now been confirmed using more sensitive instruments on board the Jacob Smirnitskyi.”
    “In the past few days, the researchers have seen areas of sea foaming with gas bubbling up through “methane chimneys” rising from the sea floor”
    Sea foaming with Methane sounds spectacular, should be on every TV news.

  93. The ridiculous analogy with the population of Wyoming misses the point entirely. It can be seen by the article on this blog ‘The logarithmic effect of CO2’, even very small amounts of trace gases can have an influence on the greenhouse effect. The relatively tiny number of methane molecules in the atmosphere is still enough that radiation from the surface of the planet will possible encounter one or more on its way to space. The methane will selectively absorb and re-radiate certain frequencies of radiation, leading to the greenhouse effect.
    A far more convincing argument against this scare story about methane would be that the gas has a very short lifetime in the atmosphere before being oxidised.

  94. Why are we all still here when we know we have had as warm if not warmer periods in the past. Roman Warm Period, Holocene Climate Optimum, MWP etc.,???

    “As with every unsubstantiated, speculative prediction made by alarmists and climate models, there is a grain of truth regarding melting tundra/permafrost releasing stored carbon dioxide. But researchers have discovered that when these melted areas are thawed, the explosion of new growth of vegetation becomes a positive CO2 sink that sequesters carbon dioxide in greater quantities than that released from the thaw. So instead of permafrost melting being a positive warming feedback, it actually becomes a negative feedback – funny how the climate always seems to do that in the end.
    ….
    “Delisle throws in another fast ball regarding methane (CH4) at the end of the article by stating “A second, rarely touched upon question is associated with the apparently limited amount of organic carbon that had been released from permafrost terrain in previous periods of climatic warming such as e.g. the Medieval Warm Period or during the Holocene Climatic Optimum. There appear to be no significant CH4-excursions in ice core records of Antarctica or Greenland during these time periods which otherwise might serve as evidence for a massive release of methane into the atmosphere from degrading permafrost terrains.””

    http://www.c3headlines.com/2010/02/is-melting-tundra-permafrost-the-co2-tipping-point-of-runaway-warming-peerresearch-says-no.html

  95. 4 billion (00:46:34) :
    Have you considered how the sea-bottom sediment could ever be colder than the freezing-point of sea-water? In that case the sea would freeze to the bottom, no? Does it ever do that even in the Laptev Sea?
    So, yes it is perfectly normal, and yes, all the permafrost on the bottom of the sea will ultimately melt as it has been doing (slowly) for the last 10,000 years, and as it has been doing during every interglacial.
    By the way the North Sea, the Bay of Biscay, the Bering Sea, the shallow areas around New Foundland and sundry other shallow areas were also permafrost during the last glaciation. That all melted long ago, with no noticeable effect on methane levels.

  96. Henry@ Gary Hladik (19:52:07) :
    Henry Pool (19:11:36) : “Does anyone here know where that assessment in the factsheet comes from that methane is 30 x stronger a greenhouse gas than carbondioxide?”
    I’ve seen this sort of claim for years, and finally decided to look it up:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Global_warming_potential
    thanks Gary
    Noted that CO2 is =1 but 1 compared to what? Who did those initial tests where it was decided that CO2 is a greenhouse gas? Svante Arrhenius? Or do we have some more recent research?
    They decided not to give a figure for water vapor which is totally rediculous. e.g. how much EXTRA water vapor is created by all of man’s shallow pools, canals and dams due to human activities?
    I am not sure how CO2 could be 1. According to my own thump of the rule (looking at the spectral data) then the cooling caused by CO2 is more or less equal to the warming so that value should be closer to zero. So now we have 30 x more or less zero….at 1-2 ppm’s….
    so I don’t think we have to worry much about the methane….!!

  97. Mike G in Corvallis (21:40:15) :
    And unpatriotic!
    Juraj V. (01:07:57)
    Desperation to sell more newspapers.
    Question?
    Has anyone checked the methane levels in Parliment or the White House?
    “For God’s sake son don’t light a match!”

  98. Baa Humbug (22:44:32) :
    Regards methane. Here in Australia, we have about one million feral camels. According to the UN carbon auditing method, the methane from feral camels is NOT considered for auditing purposes. BUT, the few thousand domestic camels, well, their methane IS counted. Feral farts are different from domestic farts apparently.
    **********************************************
    Yes, because “feral” = “free-range”, and every eco-activist knows that “free-range” is Better. Duh.

  99. Methane again? Talk about grasping at straws! Their cargo cult science is rapidly reaching a tipping point, where it will simply implode, leaving the detritus of ruined careers, trials involving charges of fraud and malfeasance, civil lawsuits, and the public trust in all science in tatters. It will take decades for society to fully recover from the harm the CAGW/CC cargo cult science has done.
    Love the cartoon, Josh. Keep ’em coming.

  100. Henry Pool (19:11:36) : “Does anyone here know where that assessment in the factsheet comes from that methane is 30 x stronger a greenhouse gas than carbondioxide?”>>
    Been asking the same question. Wikipedia refers to it, quotes APCC AR4 in one of the references. That quotes Ramaswamy et al 2001. Can’t find that paper but found an update analysis of Methane forcing on IOP:
    http://www.iop.org/EJ/article/1748-9326/4/4/044007/erl9_4_044007.html#erl324255s2
    Basicaly says it has no significant forcing of its own, but it breaks down into CO2 and then they have some math I don’t get to show that the extra CO2 counts for 30 times the same number of CH4. But since we’re already tracking the CO2, INCLUDING that derived from Methane, they’re pretty much counting come of the CO2 twice methinks.

  101. I’ve actually pointed out oceanfloor (and other methane sources) before. Part of that methane cycle is isotope loading. Being geological methane for a large extent (and being further ‘lightened’ by biological action via some as yet unknown method) the carbon isotopes fairly closely match ‘man-made’ carbon in isotopic ratio. There are very deep methane sinks. Not all of these (in fact very few of these) are of man-made origin.
    Sometime look at the burning methane fields in Russia. Too hot to approach at this point, almost impossible to put out.
    Methane is CH4. It is broken down by biological action (when small amounts occur) into Carbon Dioxide, and when burned water and carbon dioxide.
    The methodology for locating man-made carbon dioxide is here:
    http://www.sciencedirect.com/science?_ob=ArticleURL&_udi=B6V79-3VWKNJX-32&_user=10&_coverDate=12%2F31%2F1996&_rdoc=1&_fmt=high&_orig=search&_sort=d&_docanchor=&view=c&_acct=C000050221&_version=1&_urlVersion=0&_userid=10&md5=c5294553a0fc0525e23d02c29e73e6f1
    They utilize the carbon isotope ratio, which is apparently fairly fixed for oil and methane.
    Methane clathrate (and volcanic methane and carbon dioxide trench carbon dioxide clathrate) is also carbon-light, given that the sun appears to be the only major source for carbon 14.
    At least one known clathrate contains toxic amounts of hydrogen sulfide, as well as traces of carbon, and other sulphate compositions.
    http://www.sciencedirect.com/science?_ob=ArticleURL&_udi=B6V61-3T0TFMG-4&_user=10&_coverDate=03%2F30%2F1998&_rdoc=1&_fmt=high&_orig=search&_sort=d&_docanchor=&view=c&_searchStrId=1238645918&_rerunOrigin=scholar.google&_acct=C000050221&_version=1&_urlVersion=0&_userid=10&md5=4f63b6b5b3f186be9b2c515c6f4245c1
    The methane presumed to exist is in the gigaton range.
    http://ethomas.web.wesleyan.edu/ees123/clathrate.htm
    and is assumed to be both biogenic from plant and animal decomposition at depth, as well as from biological action on deep petroleum.
    Some interesting stuff. Reminds me of an airplane report from the 1950s, flying over the Puerto Rico trench. A sighting was made of a large boil, described ‘like a cauliflower rising from the ocean’ by the aircraft pilot and passengers flying over. This is typical of a large methane ‘burp’, as the methane converts rapidly from a solid to a gas occupying 255 times its own volume as it goes through warmer water, and often breaks off in rafts.
    Indicative of anything? Damned if I know. I’m just your average idiot.

  102. From the following new scientist article
    http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn18614-methane-bubbling-out-of-arctic-ocean–but-is-it-new.html
    “Shakhova and her colleagues are calling for “urgent” investigations to determine whether the methane venting they have found is an ongoing phenomenon or signals the start of a larger release.”
    So there is the reason for the drama, they want more money to do more research. To say nothing to see here folks would simply put themselves out of business.

  103. Unethical claims
    In today’s economy it is hard for the greedy to get research funding, Her only chance is to add fear and urgency.
    None of the above posts mention the release of CH4 from rice paddys. If it is so terrible, attack the asians and other folks that grow rice. She is apparently racist.
    Today the most serious form of CH4 production is the landfill. It means our city dwellers are the problem.

  104. Henry chance, I posted yesterday regarding rice paddy agriculture.
    If you want to attack folks who grow rice, may I suggest Riceland Rice in Stuttgart, Arkansas, or perhaps set your sights on California. The USA is a big producer in its own right.

  105. OK I think I figured out how they get to 30x.
    1 mole of CH4 breaks down to 0.61 mole of CO2.
    The intermediate processes wind up creating more H2O as well as O3.
    So combined forcing from the end products is the total of the CO2, H2O and O3
    THEN they argue that methane from rice paddies etc doesn’t matter because for every CH4 they produce, they have to consume one CO2. So a cow producing CH4 is a WAY bigger issue than a rice paddie. As soon as I saw that explanation I thought…. hmmm…. they lining up to propose a tax on beef?
    Sigh. Yes.
    http://fixtheclimate.com/uploads/tx_templavoila/PP_Methane_Johansson_Hedenus_v.2.0.pdf

  106. Anything to come up with a boogyman that needs to be controlled at a global level.
    It’s a solution in search of a (non-) problem:
    As the cartoon suggests.
    But, also, as the cartoon suggests, the timing of this story is evidence that AGW is a spent political force, sure there will be spasms of frenzy in an attempt to reignite the political agenda — but the revelations of the last months have all but broken the back of the AGW political agenda — and that’s a good thing.

  107. As soon as I saw that explanation I thought…. hmmm…. they lining up to propose a tax on beef?>>
    ..which of course, would make them “cash cows”

  108. Juraj V. (01:07:57) :
    This comment and this comment:
    Carbon-based life form (18:11:47) :
    Ummm… yeah. Was it CO2 that caused the warming now? Hey, I have an idea. The natural oscillation of Arctic ice caused the MWP by outgassing methane from the Arctic, rendering Greenland arable land for the Vikings.
    Problem solved. CO2=double plus good.

  109. George Comanos (18:58:11) : I don’t understand: under what conditions does one have permafrost under the sea?
    Someone else may have linked this already, we’re talking clathrate hydrate, a water/methane crystal some think may be the new organic fuel reserve.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Methane_hydrate

  110. From the NYT article cited above:
    So far, Dr. Heimann wrote, methane contributions from Arctic permafrost have been “negligible.” He added: “But will this persist into the future under sustained warming trends? We do not know.”
    Nobody is saying the observed methane release is a problem yet.
    But given that methane clathrates are unstable at a certain temperature and pressure, many scientists are worried about what happens after the Arctic warms 6 or 7 degrees C:
    http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/Features/GlobalWarming/global_warming_update5.php
    The Arctic will warm much more than the global average, and if the methane clathrates are the “tipping point” some worry about:
    http://www.energybulletin.net/node/3647
    then game over.
    Keep in mind the Sun is brightening by about 1% every 100 million years – things that might have triggered massive clathrate destabilizations 251 million years ago (Permian extinction event) might be accomplished with smaller perturbations to the climate system today. As many here have pointed out, the Sun is a huge influence on Earth’s climate.
    Basic methane clathrate info.

  111. And then there is the recent report by the American Astronomical Society of the discovery of a rare form of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere of Venus with a special signature absorption band at 3.3 microns.
    This is a special isotope of carbon dioxide, where one oxygen atom is “normal”, with eight protons and eight neutrons, while the other has eight protons and ten neutrons. On Earth, they report, about 1 percent of the carbon dioxide is of this abnormal form.
    They speculate that this special gas plays an important role in the greenhouse effect on that planet (Venus).

  112. Steve Goddard (08:06:19) :
    looks like CH4 absorption is minimal and does not occupy any unique spectral bands.
    http://www.globalwarmingart.com/wiki/File:Atmospheric_Transmission_

    And yet the Global Warming Potential (GWP) of CH4 is 72 at 20 years:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Global_warming_potential
    Good thing there are not gigatons of sulfur hexaflouride captured in precarious ice crystals in the Arctic: (GWP of 16,300)
    Carbon dioxide is defined to have a GWP of 1.

  113. Jryan
    If a cow patty falls, and an tree grows from it, is their global warming?>>
    To answer this question we only need to know if it can be taxed…

  114. Steve Goddard (08:06:19) :
    looks like CH4 absorption is minimal and does not occupy any unique spectral bands>>
    Steve, per my previous comment, they are counting the additional CO2, O3 and H2O from the CH4 breaking down. Then they “discount” natural CH4 because it is produced by plants that remove CO2. See links in comment.
    That said, if you think about how they are presenting this, they are in effect double counting the methane. Their math works like this:
    CO2 + H2O + O3 = X forcing
    +1 CO2 = X+1 forcing
    +1 CH4 = X+25 forcing
    so CH4 is 25 times as powerful.
    But since our measurements of CO2, H2O and O3 ALREADY include the components generated by CH4, we are already measuring the CH4 too. so if you want to “add the methane” to the current number, you first have to start by subtracting that part of what we are measuring which is already due to CH4. Which is not what they appear to have done.

  115. davidmhoffer;
    But since our measurements of CO2, H2O and O3 ALREADY include the components generated by CH4, we are already measuring the CH4 too. so if you want to “add the methane” to the current number, you first have to start by subtracting that part of what we are measuring which is already due to CH4. Which is not what they appear to have done.>>
    Not to mention that they also present it as if the number they derive for CH4 can simply be added to CO2 + H2O + O3 and get a linear increase. Of course that isn’t true. Any increases in CO2 etc are subject to the same laws of diminishing returns regardless of where they come from. This is one of the slickest misrepresentations I have ever come across.

  116. I used this example four days ago in my discussion with Judith Curry.
    ABC news paints this as:

    Methane Bubbles in Arctic Seas Stir Global Warming Fears
    Gas Escapes from Permafrost, Threatens to Increase Climate Change

    They quote a co-leader of the study as saying:

    “Subsea permafrost is losing its ability to be an impermeable cap,” Natalia Shakhova, a scientist at the University of Fairbanks, Alaska, said in a statement. She co-led the study published in Friday’s edition of the journal Science.

    So I went to read the study in Science (subscription required). It says nothing of the sort. In fact, it specifically says:

    To discern whether this extensive CH4 venting over the ESAS is a steadily ongoing phenomenon or signals the start of a more massive CH4 release period, there is an urgent need for expanded multifaceted investigations into these inaccessible but climate-sensitive shelf seas north of Siberia.

    In other words, we just started studying this, so we don’t know whether permafrost is gaining or losing its ability to cap the methane.
    I gave this to Judy as an example of the kind of scientific alarmism I detest … and I hadn’t even noticed the question of the exaggerated claims of the amount detailed in the head post. Good job, Stephen.

  117. davidmhoffer (09:32:02) :
    Not to mention that they also present it as if the number they derive for CH4 can simply be added to CO2 + H2O + O3 and get a linear increase. Of course that isn’t true. Any increases in CO2 etc are subject to the same laws of diminishing returns regardless of where they come from. This is one of the slickest misrepresentations I have ever come across.

    Not the same law, being a strong absorber CH4 follows a square root dependence (with a correction for N2O). The effect of the respective gases is combined by adding their respective forcings.
    For Steve G, here’s a proper spectrum which shows where CH4 has its effect (the peak left after CH4 is removed is due to N2O):
    http://i302.photobucket.com/albums/nn107/Sprintstar400/Atmos.gif

  118. Phil. (10:40:22) :
    davidmhoffer (09:32:02) :
    Not to mention that they also present it as if the number they derive for CH4 can simply be added to CO2 + H2O + O3 and get a linear increase. Of course that isn’t true. Any increases in CO2 etc are subject to the same laws of diminishing returns regardless of where they come from. This is one of the slickest misrepresentations I have ever come across.
    Not the same law, being a strong absorber CH4 follows a square root dependence (with a correction for N2O). The effect of the respective gases is combined by adding their respective forcings>>
    Yes of course, but that is NOT how they are claiming CH4 is 20 or 30 times CO2. The 30X factor quoted from Wikipedia relies on AR4 which relies on Ramaswamy et al 2001 and Forster et al 2007 and is expanded upon here:
    http://www.iop.org/EJ/article/1748-9326/4/4/044007/erl9_4_044007.html#erl324255s2
    It is clear from this article and the cited literature that the forcing being attributed to CH4 is derived by calculating the increased CO2, O3 and water vapour in the atmosphere as a consequence of the intermediate and final oxidation steps of CH4. They then propose to add the forcing from the CO2, O3 and water vapour to that already in the atmosphere.

  119. Willis Eschenbach (10:22:12)
    That is a very good example. From what you have said, it looks like this is primarily a case of elite media(1) journalists hyping up the story to get more attention and sell AGW (‘Green’ Journalism?) rather than scientists exaggerating a problem to get funding.
    [1. For some reason I prefer this British term for MSM]

  120. It is clear from this article and the cited literature that the forcing being attributed to CH4 is derived by calculating the increased CO2, O3 and water vapour in the atmosphere as a consequence of the intermediate and final oxidation steps of CH4>>
    Which if you think about what they are saying about the process (never mind the forcing calculation just consider the process) a rise in temperature releases methane which drives up CO2 levels as the CH4 oxidizes. The lag would be big because plants would start taking the CO2 out of the atmosphere and slow down the rise in CO2. But this would explain nicely why CO2 levels in the geological record lag temperature increase. They are a consequence of methane released by warming temperatures and then the methane decays into CO2.

  121. According to the EPA: Globally, ruminant livestock produce about 80 million metric tons of methane annually.
    How much methane do nonruminant herbivores produce? Any person that has ever attempted or succeeded in adopting a vegitarian diet knows their personal gas emissions more than double on beans, greens, and sprouts. Should we be urging Vegans to eat meat to save The Planet…. or just put a cork in their emitters?
    Bumper Sticker: Global Warming Gas: Vegans Are Full Of It!

  122. Konrad (19:27:22) — If methane from melting permafrost was going to cause dangerous runaway global warming it would have already done so in the Medieval Warm Period.
    Correct, and congrats for having the only relevant comment herein.
    The only way the scare works is to have no MWP, hence Mann’s and other efforts to expunge it. Probably 90% of the present-day scares are utterly irrelevant unless there was no MWP.

  123. “To discern whether this extensive CH4 venting over the ESAS is a steadily ongoing phenomenon or signals the start of a more massive CH4 release period, there is an urgent need for expanded multifaceted investigations into these inaccessible but climate-sensitive shelf seas north of Siberia.”
    Of course. If it looks dangerous poke it with a stick. That ought to get it going.
    Better yet, drag some up and have a look at it. Boom.

  124. Spector (11:45:10)

    Willis Eschenbach (10:22:12)
    That is a very good example. From what you have said, it looks like this is primarily a case of elite media(1) journalists hyping up the story to get more attention and sell AGW (‘Green’ Journalism?) rather than scientists exaggerating a problem to get funding.
    [1. For some reason I prefer this British term for MSM]

    I disagree. The hyping is being done, not by the media, but by Dr. Natalia Shakhova, for example her quote that:

    Subsea permafrost is losing its ability to be an impermeable cap.

    I hate this kind of “science by soundbite” practiced by so many climate scientists. If the good doctor believes that, it should be in her study. And since it isn’t in her study, she’s just blowing smoke.

  125. This is the biggest load of crap I have ever seen.
    As a geophysicist that has to deal with the effects of permafrost or lack there of on seismic data on a regular basis, I know a thing or two about the subject. For starters, as you go offshore, you loose permafrost. Why ? Because the water is WARM compared to the annual ambient temp. I dont care if the annual temp goes up 10 deg or down 10 deg, the water will still be above freezing and any remnant permafrost (it would be a remnant from the last glacial stage, when the ocean would have been frozen to bottom – it is melting now because the water is above freezing).
    Short of us entering a new ice age & re-freezing the ocean to the bottom, nothing will stop this offshore permafrost melting. So, is that what we want – a new ice age?? These people are either complete morons or pathological liars. No wonder science has no credibility – people like this are destroying it.

  126. Antonio San (21:07:50)
    “….So perhaps all the MSM that propped up this study as the new scare should, for once, have read realclimate…
    Thanks climategate!”
    I think you meant “Thanks RealClimate”
    I think we ought to keep the MSM going to WUWT – there’s no change in thinking at RealClimate, – they are at window #1 of the cartoon posted with this story and there’s just no way they want the attention to be shifted away from CO2 – at least not yet!.

  127. davidmhoffer (11:36:56) :
    Yes of course, but that is NOT how they are claiming CH4 is 20 or 30 times CO2. The 30X factor quoted from Wikipedia relies on AR4 which relies on Ramaswamy et al 2001 and Forster et al 2007 and is expanded upon here:
    http://www.iop.org/EJ/article/1748-9326/4/4/044007/erl9_4_044007.html#erl324255s2
    It is clear from this article and the cited literature that the forcing being attributed to CH4 is derived by calculating the increased CO2, O3 and water vapour in the atmosphere as a consequence of the intermediate and final oxidation steps of CH4. They then propose to add the forcing from the CO2, O3 and water vapour to that already in the atmosphere.

    Actually that is not what is done and you’ve made a complete dog’s breakfast of reading the paper, have another go!

  128. davidmhoffer (11:49:23) : edit

    It is clear from this article and the cited literature that the forcing being attributed to CH4 is derived by calculating the increased CO2, O3 and water vapour in the atmosphere as a consequence of the intermediate and final oxidation steps of CH4>>

    Which if you think about what they are saying about the process (never mind the forcing calculation just consider the process) a rise in temperature releases methane which drives up CO2 levels as the CH4 oxidizes. The lag would be big because plants would start taking the CO2 out of the atmosphere and slow down the rise in CO2. But this would explain nicely why CO2 levels in the geological record lag temperature increase. They are a consequence of methane released by warming temperatures and then the methane decays into CO2.

    I find:

    The average residence time of methane in the atmosphere is 12 years (Prather and Ehhalt 2001).

    That’s far too short to explain the ice core CO2 lag, which is on the order of 600-800 years.
    w.

  129. There is no such thing as “permafrost under the East Siberian Arctic Shelf.” Permafrost is found on land… Where the ground remains frozen for years at a time. The sea floor doesn’t freeze. If it did, Snowball Earth would have been permanent.
    While there is a fair amount of methane locked up in permafrost, it’s a drop in the bucket compared to sea floor methane hydrates (clathrates). A clathrate occurs when one molecule forms a lattice or cage around another compound. Methane hydrates are clathrates of CH4 molecules trapped in a lattice of H2O (ice).
    Atmospheric methane (CH4) levels have been essentially flat for more than a decade; varying from 1770-1800 ppb (parts per billion).
    The only mechanisms that can trigger a sudden release of sea floor methane hydrates are:

    Tectonic – Earthquakes, plate movement, etc. can disrupt the sea floor and “shake loose” the methane molecules from their ice cages.
    Volcanic – Submarine eruptions and shallow intrusive volcanic events can melt the clathrathes and release the trapped methane. This might have been the mechanism for the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum (~57 mya) and one of the very few genuine examples of ocean acidification in the geologic record.
    Glacio-Eustatic – Glacial episodes in the Pleistocene caused sea level to drop by ~130 meters. The drop in sea level would subaerially expose some methane hydrate deposits and causes other deposits to shoal (become shallower), raising the water temperature. The glacio-eustatic sea level fall could theoretically have released massive volumes of methane to the atmosphere. One school of thought says that this is what triggers the interglacial episodes (like the one we live in). Although no one has been able to find any clear geochemical evidence that this has actually happened.

    No amount of “anthropogenic global warming” can release Arctic sea floor methane hydrates. The oceans do not warm from the bottom-up… Unless the source of the warming is volcanic. The oceanic thermocline is very steep…
    Thermocline
    Once you get below the surface layer, solar (and atmospheric) heating don’t affect the water temperature in any significant way. The Arctic thermocline is very shallow (when it even exists).
    The paper itself is behind the [I]Science[/I] paywall; but [I]Science News[/I] has a pretty good article about it… Arctic seafloor a big source of methane.

    The warmth of the seawater, as well as heat flowing up from within the Earth, has thawed the seafloor permafrost, releasing the methane, the researchers speculate. The warmth of the seawater, as well as heat flowing up from within the Earth, has thawed the seafloor permafrost, releasing the methane, the researchers speculate. “We don’t know how long it’s been bubbling like this,” Shakhova adds.
    Sonar images show plumes of methane bubbling from the seafloor, indicating that the gas originates in sediments there. Other measurements show that the methane isn’t generated in the water by microbes or brought to the seas by rivers, Shakhova says. Shakhova adds.

    “We don’t know how long it’s been bubbling like this”… It’s most likely “been bubbling like this” since the end of the Pleistocene. There wasn’t someone monitoring the East Siberian Arctic Shelf who one day found gas seeps where none had previously existed. This is like the Antarctic ozone hole, they went looking for something and found it… But there’s no evidence that it wasn’t there before anyone looked for it.
    They are most likely observing natural gas seeps. The Gulf of Mexico, for example, is loaded with natural oil and gas seeps…
    <a href =http://ocean.tamu.edu/Quarterdeck/QD5.3/sassen.html"][B]Gas Hydrates

    Scientists find hydrates around hydrocarbon seeps in the Gulf of Mexico. The seeps often signal the presence of oil and gas reservoirs far below the seafloor.

    The oil and gas potential of the East Siberian Arctic Shelf is nothing new…

    Russian oil and gas offshore
    Most estimates [Granberg et al., 1993; Malovitski et al., 1994] suggest that promising oil- and gas-bearing areas are found on about 90% of all Russian shelves. They cover 5.2-6.2 million square kilometers. Potential recoverable hydrocarbon resources of the Russian continental shelves are estimated within 90 to 100 billion tons of oil equivalent. Natural gas resources account for 80% of them.
    Practically everywhere on the Russian shelf, the affinity between the offshore petroleum-bearing provinces and corresponding geological structures of the adjoining inland areas is found. Global experience indicates that in such cases, the oil and gas potential of the shelf fields is higher than that of the onshore accumulations.
    […]
    The shelves of the Far East and Eastern Siberia have especially good prospects for large-scale and long-term developments of the offshore oil and gas fields. The promising areas in these regions (excluding Sakhalin and its shelf) are estimated at about 1.5 million square kilometers. Potential recoverable resources are estimated at billions of tons of conventional fuel. These reserves are concentrated mostly in the Sea of Okhotsk and the Bering, Chukchi, and East-Siberian Seas. Here, more than 20 oil- and gas-bearing and potentially oil- and gas-bearing basins of different geotectonic nature have been discovered.
    <a href =http://www.offshore-environment.com/russianoil.html"]LINK

    The USGS reports that the “undiscovered conventional oil and gas resources of the Arctic are estimated to be approximately 90 billion barrels of oil, 1,669 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, and 44 billion barrels of natural gas liquids.” Natural seafloor oil and gas seeps are among the reasons that the area is thought to have huge potential for oil and gas exploration.

  130. Willis Eschenbach (12:52:11) :
    The average residence time of methane in the atmosphere is 12 years (Prather and Ehhalt 2001).
    That’s far too short to explain the ice core CO2 lag, which is on the order of 600-800 years>>
    Hmmm. didn’t know the lag was that big. My thought was that as temps go up, plant growth goes up, likely taking more CO2 out of the atmosphere than the methane is putting in at first. At some point plant growth starts to peak, not to mention start contributing to methane production. Then animal life starts increase as they have a more abundant food source, and the critters fart. So I figured the CO2 peak would be way after methane because it has to fight off some negative (for co2) feedback loops. I could figure a delay in my mind of decades, but centuries might be a stretch.

  131. UK John (11:49:16) :
    Even stranger fact! and something to be really worried about!
    Realclimate agree with Steve Goddard, that this is not going to happen.
    ************************************************************
    If this is true, then it can only mean one thing. . .
    Hell must be freezing over! Could we send Al Gore to check on that, please?

  132. The first one to smell it…is the culprit!
    That is the smell of the decomposition of science turning into sh***through a reverse alchemical process, intended not for the obtention of gold but rather to the debasement of anything achieved in the past by hateful “capitalism”. You should turn, asap. a fourth world banana country.

  133. Would burning the methane, to turn it into CO2 be less harmful than letting it escape into the atmosphere as methane ?

  134. Phil.
    Actually that is not what is done and you’ve made a complete dog’s breakfast of reading the paper, have another go>>
    title of the paper is
    The indirect global warming potential and global temperature change potential due to methane oxidation
    and the quote frome the conclusion section is
    our upper bound for the indirect CO2 correction is larger than the direct CH4 effect.
    So please help me out and explain what I didnt understand.

  135. David Middleton (12:59:31) : edit

    There is no such thing as “permafrost under the East Siberian Arctic Shelf.” Permafrost is found on land… Where the ground remains frozen for years at a time. The sea floor doesn’t freeze. If it did, Snowball Earth would have been permanent.

    Actually, there is. It is permafrost from the last ice age under the ocean. As the ice melted, the sea level rose and covered up the permafrost. From here, we have:

    Subsea permafrost, such as in the Laptev Sea, was formed under subaerial conditions during the last glacial periods and subsequently underwent submersion due to postglacial sea-level rises. As western part of the Beringian landmass the shallow Siberian shelves became subaerially exposed during glacial maxima. During ensuing postglacial global sea-level rises the region gradually changed from a terrestrial permafrost landscape into shallow marine shelf environments.
    Geochemical, micropaleontological, and sedimentological data obtained through sediment coring and drilling not only reveal the strong influence of this transformation process on the shelf environment for the time since the last glacial period, they also clearly confirm the existence of permanently frozen, and ice-bearing sediments below a soft, marine sediment package of Holocene age.

    Since the layer of permafrost has warmer earth below and warmer water above, it has been slowly melting since it was inundated. Hard to blame that on CO2 …

  136. The promoters are just annoyed how the ocean acidification scare fizzed out, thanks to the problem of no acidification.
    Now they are back to methane.
    Note how AGW alarmists cycle around a few panic butons- temps, storms, sea levels, ocean acidification, ice, and now methane.
    Instead of accepting, when it is shown that the level of risk is far smaller than hype would represent, they just move back to one of the others.
    The media, for the most part, is happy to enable this fear mongering shuffle.

  137. >> CH4 + 2 O3 -> 2 H2O + CO2 + O2
    Writing a balanced chemical equation doesn’t really tell you anything. First of all, is it a fundamental equation (i.e., if a CH4 molecule and two ozone molecules all meet in the same place at the same time do you really get an oxygen molecule, a carbon dioxide molecule, and 2 water molecules)? In this case, certainly not. Second – even if it is what are the forward and reverse reaction rates (or, put another way, what are the activation barriers to reaction and the energies of the reactants and products)? Third, this as written is a trimolecular reaction – which is also second order in ozone. So the overall rate (related to the product of the reaction rates and the concentrations) is quadratic in ozone (i.e., small ozone cnocentration, small overall reaction rate squared). Finally, the actual pathway for conversion of atmospheric methane to carbon dioxide is a multistep process that is dominated by an initial step in which methane reacts with free radical OH in the atmosphere.
    In fact, the buzz several years back was that, a la Le Chatlier, increased methane in the atmosphere was going to scrub out all of the free radical OH in the atmosphere and when that was all gone all sorts of unknown scary stuff (including the accumulation of excess CH4) was going to ensue. Sadly, the concentrations of OH have done exactly the opposite and increased slightly. Too bad for the alarmist (the atmosphere HAS to work the way I modeled on paper!) folks.

  138. @Willis Eschenbach (13:52:31) :
    Well… I guess you can “teach an old dog new tricks”!

    Geochemical, micropaleontological, and sedimentological data obtained through sediment coring and drilling not only reveal the strong influence of this transformation process on the shelf environment for the time since the last glacial period, they also clearly confirm the existence of permanently frozen, and ice-bearing sediments below a soft, marine sediment package of Holocene age.

    I had never heard of submarine permafrost… Particularly buried beneath unfrozen marine sediments.
    I guess I need to get out of the Gulf of Mexico one-in-a-while.
    It’s mind boggling that it could have remained frozen for 12,000 years.

  139. Anyone know how much methane there was in the atmosphere when life started 4 billion years ago? I thought it was estimated at about 30%. I think the rest of the atmosphere was ammonia, CO2 and, I presume, a lot of water vapour.
    Model that!

  140. RE: Willis Eschenbach (12:32:00) : “..The hyping is being done, not by the media, but by Dr. Natalia Shakhova,…”
    I did not get that impression initially as I thought you were comparing a news article with the actual scientific work to which it referred. Thanks the clarification. The press gets a free pass if the ‘trusted’ scientists themselves are responsible for overselling the significance of their perhaps dubious work.

  141. Has anyone looked for hydrothermal vents? Methane oxidation occurs in and around those vents. They just found a bunch off of Antarctica…I was wondering if anyone is looking for them in the Arctic as well.
    Methane has been detected on Mars, and unless there is biologic and/or geologic activity going on there, it’s apparent that it can be produced inorganically. (It can be done synthetically, too, from iron oxide, calcium carbonate, and water. But you have to get the temps up over 500 C and the pressure up to 11GPA.) So instead of blaming the cows, maybe they should apply Occam’s razor and look for a simpler explanation.

  142. hunter (13:52:33) :
    Homer and Lisa read US of A TODAY over breakfast.
    Homer: Here’s good news! According to this eye-catching article,
    SAT scores are declining at a slower rate!
    Lisa: Dad, I think this paper is a flimsy hodgepodge of pie graphs,
    factoids and Larry King.
    Homer: Hey, this is the only paper in America that’s not afraid to tell
    the truth, that everything is just fine.

  143. UK John (11:49:16) :
    Even stranger fact! and something to be really worried about!
    Realclimate agree with Steve Goddard, that this is not going to happen.
    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2010/03/arctic-methane-on-the-move/

    ——–
    from the RealClimate article:
    Is now the time to get frightened?
    No. CO2 is plenty to be frightened of, while methane is frosting on the cake. Imagine you are in a Toyota on the highway at 60 miles per hour approaching stopped traffic, and you find that the brake pedal is broken. This is CO2.
    Then you figure out that the accelerator has also jammed, so that by the time you hit the truck in front of you, you will be going 90 miles per hour instead of 60. This is methane.
    Is now the time to get worried? No, you should already have been worried by the broken brake pedal.

  144. tty
    “Have you considered how the sea-bottom sediment could ever be colder than the freezing-point of sea-water? In that case the sea would freeze to the bottom, no?”
    By this theory Sea ice cannot exist either.

  145. 4 billion (00:46:34)
    Interesting article and appreciate the civil discourse. I’m assuming you lean AGW but nothing wrong with that, it’s actually the part about this site that I love – there are all types here, and the comments (and light touch from the mods) make for really great back and forth.
    I’m not ready to pull my hair out yelling global extinction just yet, but it is a fascinating subject and IMO definitely worthy of research dollars – as opposed to a lot of other “stuff” getting money thrown at it.
    Cheers!

  146. The NYT article is incorrect, Shakhova states Methane levels over the last 400000 years have globally averaged 0.6-0.7 ppm during warm periods, not that the current Global levels are 0.6-0.7 ppm.
    =====
    Yes, but the NYTimes error provides material for a straw man:
    Methane, The Panic Du Jour?
    Apparently, Dr. Shakhova’s isn’t panicking over her methane study. The NYTimes concludes the article on the study with the following statements from her:
    But, “I am not the person to judge” whether the Arctic findings suggest that estimates of climate change in coming decades should be rewritten, she added.
    “I would not go so far as to suggest any implications,” she said. “We are at the very beginning of research.”
    And from Realclimate, we have this:
    “For methane to be a game-changer in the future of Earth’s climate, it would have to degas to the atmosphere catastrophically, on a time scale that is faster than the decadal lifetime of methane in the air. So far no one has seen or proposed a mechanism to make that happen”
    Perhaps The Panic Du Jour is the panic that never was.

  147. Anu:
    No. CO2 is plenty to be frightened of….
    Ok, Anu, then here’s an easy one for you: what do you personally do in terms of your own lifestyle to forstall what you fear will result from fossil fuel CO2?

  148. I noticed that after I and others pointed out the error in the NYT article about methane concentrations (“atmospheric levels of methane over the Arctic are 1.85 parts per million, almost three times as high as the global average of 0.6 or 0.7 parts per million”—Study Says Undersea Release of Methane Is Under Way) Revkin replied that the article was corrected. It seems that the NYT’s idea of correcting an erroneous article on climate is to pull the story altogether. Shameless. And not surprising.

  149. Sean Peake (21:01:43) :
    I noticed that after I and others pointed out the error in the NYT article about methane concentrations (“atmospheric levels of methane over the Arctic are 1.85 parts per million, almost three times as high as the global average of 0.6 or 0.7 parts per million”—Study Says Undersea Release of Methane Is Under Way) Revkin replied that the article was corrected. It seems that the NYT’s idea of correcting an erroneous article on climate is to pull the story altogether. Shameless. And not surprising.
    —————–
    Sometimes the NYTimes blocks unregistered users from what is a direct link to a single article.
    You’re probably not signed up as a free, registered user.
    Close your browser and try the link again –
    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/05/science/earth/05methane.html?emc=tnt&tntemail1=y
    It works fine for me.
    I think they have a software problem with cookies.
    The article is still there.

  150. The Siberian Coastline has been in a great state of flux since the last ice age. The sea level has risen something like 100 meters, to a point in the Holocene Optimum where it was slightly higher than it is today.
    Add to that the factor of isostatic uplift, (land rising after the burden of ice was removed.) This uplift was great in Finland, and a result is that the uplift may have been negative in Western Siberia, while uplift varies as you move east, and is, to be honest, not known in many eastern areas because geologists haven’t yet studied it.
    Then add the warm temperatures of the Holocene Climatic Optimum, which may have been up to six degrees warmer, (or not warmer, if you read to Wikipedia or Real Climate.)
    What you wind up with is a picture of a coastline which, to say the least, varies in a wondrous way. The delta of every river differs, and shows signs of reaching the sea at different points as the shorelines rose and fell. In many ways it is a paradise for geologists, especially as there are large oil reserves, and a geologist might actually get paid for wandering about up there.
    Therefore to suggest the situation was somehow stable, and the deposits of methane are only now being disturbed and released, seems a bit naive. They likely have been disturbed over and over, and also are constantly created.
    I think it is a very real pity geologists are reduced to these pathetic attempts to get funding by tapping into alarmism. They ought be funded simply because the subject of geology is wonderful, and has many benefits (besides the benefit of discovering vast fields of oil.)

  151. Wren (20:03:00) :
    Apparently, Dr. Shakhova’s isn’t panicking over her methane study. The NYTimes concludes the article on the study with the following statements from her:
    But, “I am not the person to judge” whether the Arctic findings suggest that estimates of climate change in coming decades should be rewritten, she added.
    “I would not go so far as to suggest any implications,” she said. “We are at the very beginning of research.”

    Of course, she certainly knows, and expects the NYT, the MSM in general, and the alarmosphere to run with this, with the usual alarmist angle full of if…..thens, woulds, and coulds. After all, she knows on which side of her bread is buttered. It is a very convenient, symbiotic relationship.
    Meanwhile, over on Romm’s site we have the usual spittle and drool alarmism:
    “The new Science study, led by University of Alaska’s International Arctic Research Centre and the Russian Academy of Sciences, is “Extensive Methane Venting to the Atmosphere from Sediments of the East Siberian Arctic Shelf” (subs. req’d). The must-read National Science Foundation press release (click here), warns “Release of even a fraction of the methane stored in the shelf could trigger abrupt climate warming.” The NSF is normally a very staid organization. If they are worried, everybody should be.”
    http://climateprogress.org/2010/03/04/science-nsf-tundra-permafrost-methane-east-siberian-arctic-shelf-venting/

  152. J.Peden (21:00:57) :
    Anu:
    No. CO2 is plenty to be frightened of….
    Ok, Anu, then here’s an easy one for you: what do you personally do in terms of your own lifestyle to forstall what you fear will result from fossil fuel CO2?
    ——-
    Perhaps my post wasn’t clear. ( Anu (16:48:53) )
    The entire text after “from the RealClimate article:
    is from the RealClimate article.
    Maybe I should make quotations all in italic.
    I meant to show that the RealClimate article does not agree with Steve Goddard, that this is not going to happen. It is suggesting that if the planet warms to a point where the methane gas is released from the clathrates, we are already screwed.
    I think Steve Goddard would appreciate this distinction, that he does not agree with RealClimate.

  153. Kay (15:52:09) :
    Has anyone looked for hydrothermal vents?
    […]

    Better than looking for hydrothermal vents… Looking for oil and gas…

    INDICATIONS FOR AN ACTIVE PETROLEUM SYSTEM IN THE LAPTEV SEA, NE SIBERIA
    B. Cramer* + D. Franke*
    *Federal Institute for Geosciences and Natural Resources (BGR), Stilleweg 2, 30655 Hannover, Germany.
    Copyright 2005 SCIENTIFIC PRESS LTD
    ABSTRACT
    The shallow shelf of the Laptev Sea offshore NE Siberia is characterized by a number of rift basins more than 10 km deep. These basins are filled with sedimentary rocks of predominantly Cenozoic age and are likely sites for petroleum generation and accumulation. One objective of the BGR97 Arctic cruise to the Laptev Sea was to explore for near-surface indications of petroleum, and for this purpose water samples and near-surface sediments were collected for geochemical analysis. Gaseous hydrocarbons adsorbed in near-surface sediments include thermally-generated gas which has probably migrated upwards from deeper sedimentary strata. The hydrocarbons’ compositions together with stable carbon isotope ratios indicate an origin from a marine source rock at a maturity of between 0.9 and 1.3% vitrinite reflectance. On reflection seismic profiles, zones of poor reflectivity were observed locally, also suggesting the presence of ascending gas. These geophysical indications for gas occur most frequently in the northern part of the Laptev Sea; here, seepages of thermogenic methane were detected in the sea water at two locations. Refraction seismic and multichannel data indicate the existence of sub-sea permafrost down to a depth of 500m, which probably prevents gas from escaping into the water column in most areas. The greater water depths at the northern edge of the shelf may have prevented the formation of the permafrost layer, allowing the upward migration of hydrocarbons to occur.
    Journal of Petroleum Geology
    Volume 28 Issue 4, Pages 369 – 384
    Published Online: 24 Mar 2006

    The BGR97 Arctic cruise to the Laptev Sea took place in 1997. These natural hydrocarbon seeps were observed 13 years before the Shakhova publication.
    The gas has been seeping from the Laptev seafloor since at least the Pleistocene. It seeps to the north of the buried Pleistocene permafrost and it seeps through the buried Pleistocene permafrost in some places.
    There is no submarine permafrost to the north, in deeper water because permafrost does not form underwater. That part of the Laptev Sea was underwater during the last Pleistocene glaciation. Much of the Laptev Sea continental shelf was subaerially exposed during the last glaciation (it was above sea level) and permafrost formed there. This permafrost was buried under Holocene marine sediments when sea level rose as the last glaciation receded. Since we know that essentially the same cycle of sea level rise fall occurred in every Pleistocene glacial cycle, there’s a high probability that other, older layers of permafrost were buried in a similar fashion. Since there aren’t any extant Eemian (Sangamonian) or older layers of permafrost, it’s a pretty safe bet that they melted as the ambient temperature warmed as their depth of burial increased (geothermal gradient).
    It’s physically impossible for this buried layer of submarine permafrost to be melting because of anything that’s going on in the atmosphere. The Laptev Sea was as warm as or warmer than it is now during the Medieval Warm Period and even warmer during the Holocene Climate Optimum…
    Late Holocene Climatic History: Southeastern Shelf of the Laptev Sea
    If the Pleistocene-aged permafrost is currently melting, it’s doing so for the same reason that earlier Pleistocene-aged permafrost layers melted… It’s being buried by younger layers sediment.

  154. Perhaps this is a stupid question from someone who admittedly doesn’t know a whole lot about geology in general, or Siberian permafrost and methane stores in particular, but…
    Is the protective sedimentary layer on top of the permafrost geologically distinct from the permafrost layer? What I’m getting at here is, is the protective layer melted permafrost or something different? If something different, was it deposited before or after the ocean rose after the last glaciation, etc.
    Just curious

  155. Global warming triggers everything evil, from glaciers melting (which never happened in history before we came along) to farting permafrost.
    The next thing we will be blamed of will be getting Michael Mann’s granddaughter pregnant:
    “Girl gets hot! Melts in the arms of her lover! Humans are evil! See report at 11!”

  156. hunter (13:52:33) :
    The promoters are just annoyed how the ocean acidification scare fizzed out, thanks to the problem of no acidification.
    Now they are back to methane.
    Note how AGW alarmists cycle around a few panic butons- temps, storms, sea levels, ocean acidification, ice, and now methane.

    Don’t forget ozone holes, ocean conveyors and acid rain. They still bring those up all the time – to prove that this alarm is true, because weren’t those all true?
    Ozone hole: What a dipshit idea. Ozone hole at the South Pole, when basically all the fluorocarbons were being released in the northern hemisphere cities – exactly where we also had ozone alerts. Funny how the fluorocarbon molecules ignored the ozone right there and traveled all the way to the upper atmosphere at the south pole before becoming ozone whores.
    Ocean conveyor: Try to find the circulation in the Gulf of Mexico in ANY oceanic conveyor diagram. You can’t. They leave the Gulf of Mexico out of the Gulf Stream. (!) Then they claim it is suction that is pulling warm water north, when it is the rotation and shape of the Earth that creates the currents and the Coriolis Effect that are PUSHING the water north, and it only happens to be WARM because it was pushed into the Gulf of Mexicom, where it looled around for weeks, absorbing heat energy, before circulating out, south of Miami, into the Atlantic again. Now, you can’t suck something from 4,000 miles away, not when there are trillions of cubic meters of water nearby that will fill that little hole created by the sinking cold water. Anyone who knows anything about pressure drops knows that – but not climate scientists: Suction draws from the nearest sources first. As an engineer, I’ve had to deal with this from time to time. Gravity sinking cold water is NOT strong enough to draw water from thousands of miles away. Hell, half the water filling that “hole” east of Iceland will have come from the NORTH.
    Acid Rain: Hahahahahaha – In the 1980s, the U.S. government paid people to go out in the US Northeast to find the proof of acid rain screwing up the lakes there. When the data was all in, there was ONE POND affected – an all but inaccessible small pond in upstate NY that had high acid levels. That was it. Boy, it got quiet in the Warmosphere/Acidosphere really quickly. But still, some warmers bring it up to this day, as if it was real. In their minds it still is.
    Back to methane: Humans are evil. We all know that. Humans all need to die out, so that Bambi’s mother won’t ever get shot again. It’s all Walt Disney’s fault we are in this mess. We have screwed up the balance of nature, just by being alive and staying alive. Animals are more worthy occupants of this planet than we are. [Cue chanting Tibetan monks… Cue sunrise over the ocean… Cue smiling dolphins… Cue polar bears – on land – frolicking… Cue idle factories with blue skies and geese flying overhead…]

  157. Despite the many posts here, I could not find (with a fast peruse) the following observations:
    Methane release from permaforst is only with the initial melting. The thawed and alive material then becomes a good carbon sink as all of that life kicks into gear. Bubbles for a short time, carbon metabolism for the season.
    1780 ppb = 1.780 ppm methane
    Multiply by 20 (they claim methane is 20X better heat-trapping gas)
    = 35.6 equivalent ppm CO2 as the 2004 baseline.
    Of this, the 5 ppb increase in the last 5 years (0.28%) means that the increased methane is equivalent to adding . . . wait for it! 0.10 ppm CO2 !!!!!
    Thus, with all due respect, this whole discussion is essentially meaningless.
    Reference should also be made to Miskolczi and Zagoni’s work on the thermodynamic interaction of CO2 and water vapor which has shown that they interact to create a relatively constant heat-trapping effect such that CO2 is irrelevant to the climate.

  158. Jack Simmons (18:06:37) :
    Cow methane problem solved:
    http://www.ecogeek.org/preventing-pollution/1864
    REPLY:
    Then you use the tanks of methane to fuel your pickup truck! There was a guy in Leominster Ma who ran his pickup on methane generated from chicken manure, perhaps he can sell conversion plans.
    Sounds like a great “green energy” plan. Convert grass into fuel for the car and steaks for the freezer at the same time. Run the freeze on methane too. Just think it will give farmers every where a new product to sell!

  159. @NickB
    The permafrost is essentially a Pleistocene paleosol. It is ground that froze during the last glaciation. As the glaciers retreated during the Holocene, sea level rose very rapidly and submerged the permafrost. Over the last 12,OOO yrs, the permafrost has been buried progressively under layers of Holocene marine sediments. The burial process is gradually warming the permafrost due to the geothermal gradient.
    I’ve been a working geoscientist for 3O yrs and up until a couple of days ago I had never known that submarine permafrost could exist.

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