Permafrost fear

From Florida State University  and the department of we’ve heard all this before comes this story

Researchers: Permafrost thawing could accelerate global warming

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — A team of researchers lead by Florida State University have found new evidence that permafrost thawing is releasing large quantities of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere via plants, which could accelerate warming trends.

The research is featured in the newest edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

“We’ve known for a while now that permafrost is thawing,” said Suzanne Hodgkins, the lead author on the paper and a doctoral student in chemical oceanography at Florida State. “But what we’ve found is that the associated changes in plant community composition in the polar regions could lead to way more carbon being released into the atmosphere as methane.”

Permafrost is soil that is frozen year round and is typically located in polar regions. As the world has gotten slightly warmer, that permafrost is thawing and decomposing, which is producing increased amounts of methane.

Relative to carbon dioxide, methane has a disproportionately large global warming potential. Methane is 33 times more effective at warming the Earth on a mass basis and a century time scale relative to carbon dioxide.

As the plants break down, they are releasing carbon into the atmosphere. And if the permafrost melts entirely, there would be five times the amount of carbon in the atmosphere than there is now, said Jeff Chanton, the John Widmer Winchester Professor of Oceanography at Florida State.

“The world is getting warmer, and the additional release of gas would only add to our problems,” he said.

Chanton and Hodgkins’ work, “Changes in peat chemistry associated with permafrost thaw increase greenhouse gas production,” was funded by a three-year, $400,000 Department of Energy grant. They traveled to Sweden multiple times to collect soil samples for the study.

The research is a multicontinent effort with researchers from North America, Europe and Australia all contributing to the work.

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ConfusedPhoton

The old jokes are always the best!
In another few years the same people will be warning us of the coming ice age!

“permafrost thawing is releasing large quantities of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere via plants, which could accelerate warming trends.”
Would that be CO2 & methane containing “old” carbon? (Or a higher % of “old” carbon).
Could this lead to a false conclusion that it is man’s CO2 building up in the atmosphere?

Max Roberts

So, how did the permafrost form if the air was full of CO2 that the permafrost trapped? These people have no sense of irony.

methane is the new co2 lol
which bit of interglacial warming do they not understand.
which bit of ice age cycle do they not get?
its all happened before.
the melting ice is revealing forests and human activity like Stone Age leather shoes and trousers.
fear is not a scientific term. its a political one. science is there to dispel fears and superstitions not create them.

Mike McMillan

Maybe the permafrost in Greenland will melt so we can dig up some of those Viking farmer graves still locked solid after 800 years.

Stephanie Clague

Four hundred grand for a jolly to Sweden? Not to be sniffed at.
Money for nothing more than rehashed waffle and discredited waffle at that and based upon faulty assumptions into the bargain. This is how the new pseudo science works, appeal to those with control of the funding stream and the sky is the limit really, fail to roll over and sit up and beg and the funding tap fails to turn on for some strange reason.

Oldseadog

“……. 5 times the amount of carbon in the atmosphere ….” says Prof. Chanton.
Too many Dreamliners?

jones

So it’s 33 times worserer than we thought?

Patrick

“Methane is 33 times more effective at warming the Earth on a mass basis and a century time scale relative to carbon dioxide.”
At ~18ppBILLION/v I don’t think so!

Peter Miller

“As the plants break down, they are releasing carbon into the atmosphere. And if the permafrost melts entirely, there would be five times the amount of carbon in the atmosphere than there is now,” said Jeff Chanton, the John Widmer Winchester Professor of Oceanography at Florida State.
A moment’s thought would show this statement was complete BS. During the last ice age, which ended 10-12,000 years ago, glaciers scoured the Earth’s surface while wind, snow and rain removed most of the remaining soil and vegetation from the high latitude, permafrost areas.
In geological terms, the permafrost soils are recent, mostly less than 10-12,000 years old.
The carbon in the dead vegetation in the permafrost areas was nearly all deposited over the past 12,000 years, but especially during the Holocene Optimum period of 9.000 – 5,000 years ago. Is there any evidence from ice cores, or other sources, that huge amounts of CO2 were being extracted from the atmosphere at that time?
Answer: No.
Conclusion: Comment is typical unfounded climate alarmism.

jones

So….18 billion somethings times 5 times carbon amounts multiplied by 33 worsts equals a very very baaaad thing…

Permafear

rogerknights

To find WUWT threads countering this permafrost/methane alarmism, click
http://wattsupwiththat.com/?s=permafrost
Several turn up in the first page.

…funded by a three-year, $400,000 Department of Energy grant.

In case the previous was not clear grant

Katherine

Yeah, right. They go to Sweden to collect soil samples, then generalize to the whole world?
Besides, the polar regions have been ice-free in the past and there was no runaway global warming from methane release, so why should it happen this time?

Kelvin Vaughan

ConfusedPhoton says:
April 8, 2014 at 12:34 am
The old jokes are always the best!
I was passing the grave yard and heard strange musical coming from a grave. The vicar told me it was Beethoven decomposing.

John from the EU

Geez, we didn’t buy de CO2 crap so now they go for methane… Whats next? O2?

Katherine

Oh, and if the permafrost does melt entirely and results in five times the amount of carbon in the atmosphere than there is now, that would bring atmospheric CO2 to around 2,000 ppm. CO2 levels have been more than twice that—and during an ice age too!

sophocles

You notice the current concentration of methane in parts per BILLION are never mentioned ..
just in case we get the idea that it’s all really rather trivial and nothing to get warmed up about..

H.R.

jauntycyclist says:
April 8, 2014 at 12:51 am
“[…]
fear is not a scientific term. its a political one. science is there to dispel fears and superstitions not create them.”

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Excellent point.

And if all the permafrost melts, then the earth was already warm and the extra CO2 wouldn’t make it much warmer but would greatly help all the plants and the animals that eat plants.

Alan the Brit

Chanton and Hodgkins’ work, “Changes in peat chemistry associated with permafrost thaw increase greenhouse gas production,” was funded by a three-year, $400,000 Department of Energy grant. They traveled to Sweden multiple times to collect soil samples for the study.
Perhaps they could have saved the $taxpayer a few bob by collecting sufficient samples in “one” visit, e.g. the first visit!!!!! Sheesh! The sky grew dark last night, I expect it meant the end of the world because the Sun died! Oh no my mistake, it’s back this morning! sarc off.

As we head into uncharted waters in non, Meloncovitch cyclic global warming, Topography expands north and south of the Equator. Permafrost is probably doing what they say but for the wrong outcome. The Carbons are there for the expanding Topography.
“They have the Cart before the Horse”, again.
It is unfortunate that another IPCC inspired science paper has made the Headlines. Of a humorous note not too many Floridians get out of state and live in a swamp or on a beach. Most have never seen a mountain, a Canyon or a large river. To understand Topography, one has to travel from the Equator to Pruhoe Bay and at least three continents.
So scratch up another one for the IPCC in its never ending battle to subdue the USA and allow India to soak us for some more cash. one should see who runs the IPCC and who stands to gain from it.
Paul

thegriss

ummm.?. how did the peat get there in the first place if the area has always been frozen?

This is actually an argument for mining and burning it – better it be converted into CO2, than be released as damaging methane! 🙂

chinook

Why did the FSU folks have to go to Sweden when Florida and much of the South is one big methane generator and has been for eon’s? Ever heard of Swamp Gas? There are road signs warning motorists. No wonder it’s so warm down there ;). Oh, the humanity! But, it’s more glamorous to travel to distant shores on a well-funded snipe hunt than to just walk out the back door.

jhborn

Mark Twain comes to mind: “There is something fascinating about science. One gets such wholesale returns of conjecture out of such a trifling investment of fact.”

AussieBear

@thegriss, you wrote:
“ummm.?. how did the peat get there in the first place if the area has always been frozen?”
Good One!
How many “journalists” in the MSM are going even THINK to ask that question? Even better that methane is measured in parts per BILLION. So what if methane is 33% more potent as a GHG? Measured at ppB, its sort of a like a pimple on a gnats knee compared to the “catastrophic” 400 ppM that is CO2…

Bob Layson

These are the time-servers that try men’s patience.

Admad

“As the plants break down, they are releasing carbon into the atmosphere. And if the permafrost melts entirely, there would be five times the amount of carbon in the atmosphere than there is now” But that can’t work, I mean the Guardian’s Damian Carrington has already said “The planet’s atmosphere is half-full of carbon” so how can you add 33 times as much, that would mean the atmosphere would be 17 times as biggerer than it is now and all carbon if my maths is right, oh God we’re all going to FRY…
Meantime, I LOL.

Rob

“The world is getting warmer…” he said.
Key statement. We might as well commission computer models of scientists doing studies that add to the narrative and save the money of actually doing them. We’re clearly getting nothing out of the live models that wasn’t parametered in.

Patrick

Sorry, that should be 1800ppBILLION/v, or 1.8ppm/v. My bad!

urederra

I read the title and I thought that the fear was that due to the polar vortex thingy, the new ice layer in many places in Canada and USA wasn’t going to melt during this summer.

Then why are we here?
If the current warmth is sufficient to release methane from the permafrost, and cause a runaway warming of catastrophic consequences, then why did this not happen during the Roman and Medieval warm periods? They were certainly warm enough and long enough.

Eliza

Why even give any attention to this drivel?? (from the NAS)

So only human-C02 emissions affect peat, which in turn will somehow affect the 1 million many to many relationships, found in climate ? Peat is now the new toxin ? We pay for this junk ?
“Chanton and Hodgkins’ work, “Changes in peat chemistry associated with permafrost thaw increase greenhouse gas production,” was funded by a three-year, $400,000 Department of Energy grant. They traveled to Sweden multiple times to collect soil samples for the study.”
My own theory is that Phd’s in climate theology are less educated than grade 9’s in times past [since the pretty happy dudes believe in the flat-earth – Earth is a greenhouse fiction].

son of mulder

Better get planting some trees in the fertile soils freed by the melting permafrost. If the Yamal region is anything to go by all the extra warmth and CO2 will make them grow really quickly. That could capture masses of carbon. Extrapolating from the work of esteemed climate scientists from Penn State and East Anglia one would expect a massive hockeystick shaped uptick in carbon sequestration.

M Seward

Intrigued to know where all that permafrost to study is in Australia for the local lads and lassies in on this project.
Oh, silly me. They have models!
Duh!

JohnB

So let me get this straight – the midieval warm period was a localized regional effect. where was this region? Oh yeah somewhere up by Norway or Sweden. But if it was quite warm up there then, why didn’t it turn into a catastrophic global event? Or did it? Only it wasn’t really catastrophic? It was just really agreeable climmate … all over the world.

Ed

If CO2 is such a crisis, why are these w@nkers to-ing and fro-ing to Sweden? Or did they travel on mooseback? Oh! I forgot, it’s just the ordinary people that are supposed to reduce their carbon output.

John

And in 10 years, when the warming productions continue to fail, they’ll switch from methane to ????

joelobryan

Heres the Peer reviewed rebuttal:
Lupascu et al. Nature Climate Change, January 2014.
http://www.nature.com/nclimate/journal/v4/n1/full/nclimate2058.html
Their conclusion:
Consequently, the High Arctic has the potential to remain a strong C sink even as the rest of the permafrost region transitions to a net C source as a result of future global warming.

chris moffatt

“…Methane is 33 times more effective at warming the Earth on a mass basis and a century time scale relative to carbon dioxide.”
SH of CO2 @ 275K = 0.819
SH of CH4 @275K = 2.191
2.191/0.819 = 33
Clearly I am missing something.

Crispin in Waterloo

@Jim
Quite right: methane and CO2 from permafrost (there is a lot of that as well) are old, just like coal carbon. Yes it is not AS old but it is old enough to have significantly depleted 14C.
Bu-ut….on another topic: “Methane is 33 times more effective at warming the Earth on a mass basis and a century time scale relative to carbon dioxide.”
So, what happened to ’20 times’ that we have been told 20 times before? “Century time scale”? Gimme a break. What happened to ’20 years’ that we were told 20 times before?
Research on the North Slope using modern methane instruments showed years ago that there is very little if any impact from melting permafrost because of the huge increase in tree growth that occurs once it has melted permanently. There is a lot more carbon in the trees that grow on melted ground than emerges from the frozen biomass, which if one has even half a clue, will be remembered, grew there in a former, warmer, time. Duh!
I see this paper as cooking up more time and impact and alarm than many other scientists consider prudent.

Patrick

“chris moffatt says:
April 8, 2014 at 4:30 am
SH of CO2 @ 275K = 0.819
SH of CH4 @275K = 2.191
2.191/0.819 = 33
Clearly I am missing something.”
Yeah, the ~1.8ppMILLION/v concentration of CH4 in air, in an open, dynamic, chaotic, non-lab system.

Tim

A team of researchers lead by the almighty dollar have found new evidence that joining the warmist religion is extremely profitable.

chris moffatt

Given equal atmospheric masses of CO2 and CH4 it seems to me that the heat capacity of the CH4 would be ~2.7 times that of the CO2. Whence the figure of 33?
Given that the actual concentration of CH4 is so low – about 1/200 of CO2 it also seems to me that as an atmospheric warming agent it is negligible. What am I missing here?

Steve from Rockwood

I’m confused. I’ve been to the Arctic once and the sub-Arctic several times. As I recall plants thrive in areas of permafrost. I can only assume the very near surface warms up enough in the summer for the plants to survive. But ignoring all the greenery, where exactly is this build up of dead plant material that is decaying and releasing so much CO2 and methane into the atmosphere. Because all I’ve ever seen is 1) water, 2) barren outcrop and 3) grass.

Steve C

If you worry about methane being “33 times as evil” as carbon dioxide, then you ought to be quite pleased to hear that it’s also reactive enough to combine readily with atmospheric oxygen when given only the tiniest tweak from solar UV. This might also account for its minimal atmospheric concentration, given the quantity of decaying organic matter in the world.