Arctic Methane Seeps Slow Global Warming, Reverse Ocean Acidification and Cure Hypoxia

Guest post by David Middleton

From the “Truth is Stranger than Fiction” files:

Are methane seeps in the Arctic slowing global warming?

By Randall HymanMay. 8, 2017 , 3:00 PM

Good news about climate change is especially rare in the Arctic. But now comes news that increases in one greenhouse gas—methane—lead to the dramatic decline of another. Research off the coast of Norway’s Svalbard archipelago suggests that where methane gas bubbles up from seafloor seeps, surface waters directly above absorb twice as much carbon dioxide (CO2) as surrounding waters. The findings suggest that—in isolated spots in the Arctic—methane seeps in isolated spots in the Arctic could lessen the impact of climate change.

“This is … totally unexpected,” says Brett Thornton, a geochemist at Stockholm University who was not involved in the research. These new findings challenge the popular assumption that methane seeps inevitably increase the global greenhouse gas burden.

Methane is a potent greenhouse gas. Molecule for molecule, it traps nearly 30 times as much heat in the atmosphere as CO2. But scientists know relatively little about its role in the global carbon cycle. Most atmospheric methane comes from biological sources—belching bovines and bacteria feasting on decomposing litter—or from the burning of fossil fuels. In the ocean, methane bubbles up from deep seeps, where it is often stored in icelike crystal lattices of water called hydrates. When those hydrates “melt,” because of changing temperatures and pressures, the methane is released, and it can percolate into the atmosphere above.

To find out just how much methane the Arctic Ocean was contributing to the global balance, biogeochemist John Pohlman of the U.S. Geological Survey in Woods Hole, Massachusetts, set out to measure the gas close to the ocean surface above known methane seeps near Svalbard during the Arctic summer. He and his team were constantly surprised by how little methane they found. But the bigger surprise was that surface water CO2 levels dropped whenever their ship crossed a seep. “[The CO2 data] became the most important part of the story,” Pohlman says.

When combined with other data—sudden drops in water temperature, along with increases in dissolved oxygen and pH at the surface—the lower COlevels were telltale signs of bottom water upwelling and photosynthesis, Pohlman says. Pohlman and his team conclude that the same physical forces that are pushing the methane bubbles up are also pumping nutrient-rich cold waters from the sea bed to the surface, fertilizing phytoplankton blooms that soak up CO2, they write today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Such a “fertilization effect” would be “really surprising,” says Thornton…

[…]

In fact, the study finds that in such zones, nearly 1900 times more CO2 is being absorbed than methane emitted. That’s a small but real consolation for those concerned about global warming, Pohlman says: In these limited zones, the atmospheric benefit from COsequestration is about 230 times greater than the warming effect from methane emissions.

[…]

Science

This article raises several questions:

Why are climate “scientists” always surprised when it turns out to not be worse than previously expected?

Was this discovery so inconvenient that it justified doubling up on “in isolated spots in the Arctic” in the same sentence?

If CH4 is so much worse than CO2… Why do “scientists know relatively little about its role in the global carbon cycle,” while seeming to know everything there is to know about CO2 and its role in the global carbon cycle?

Does this mean that a controlled program of methane hydrate dislocation would help alleviate Gorebal Warming, Chicken Little of the Sea and hypoxia?

When combined with other data—sudden drops in water temperature, along with increases in dissolved oxygen and pH at the surface—the lower COlevels were telltale signs of bottom water upwelling and photosynthesis, Pohlman says.

 

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159 thoughts on “Arctic Methane Seeps Slow Global Warming, Reverse Ocean Acidification and Cure Hypoxia

  1. Are methane seeps in the Arctic slowing Global Warming? No.
    Whenever there is a question in a heading the answer is invariably no.

    • CH4 at ~1800ppBillion. Not much to worry there unless you want to eradicate all termite, insect and forest life on this rock. But I suspect you are of the sort that considers “CH4 to contain four carbons”…as someone once claimed in a discussion with me some years ago!

      • “Methane is a potent greenhouse gas. Molecule for molecule, it traps nearly 30 times as much heat in the atmosphere as CO2.”

        Not only is it barely above 1 ppm, methane is only about 20 times the greenhouse gas, not the above inflated 30 times. It’s half -lie and that of CO2 are both about 5 years, which means the turnover is rapid. The IPCC and NASA/NOAA like to say the half-life of atmospheric CO2 is 200 to 1000 years, which is a patent lie wrapped up in their propaganda.

        And then there is the fact that these are radiative gases that both absorb and radiate during the day, having no net effect, but they radiate unopposed to space at night and cool the planet. If anything these gases are cooling the planet, the exact opposite to the junk science of greenhouse gases.

      • When are these people going to admit Russ George has the solution for a warming planet AND a hungry world? This study provides even more proof.

    • -Tony,

      I guess that’s why articles on AGW B.S. always state facts about impending doom from things that are barely understood.

    • Just take a look at the fertilizing effect of methane seeps at this location: http://martinhovland.weebly.com/ :
      “Methane seeps in the ocean are much more important to life in the ocean than we previously have suspected”.

      We have published about this effect since 1985 and ‘nobody’ (very few) in the marine biology community ever took notice. The theory is not only counter-intuitive, but also outright ‘politically uncorrect’ ! Therefore, we are isolated and the theory has long been ignored.

  2. “Traps 30 times as much heat as CO2”

    Just exactly what does that mean? Doesn’t tell any one anything about how much methane will run up global temperature or how long that will take.

    Really annoys me that no one on the skeptical side of thing calls BS on this crap!

      • The journalist who wrote the article used the words “traps” and “heat.” Even if the authors of the paper used those words, it wouldn’t alter what they measured in the surface waters over active methane seeps.

      • It can’t. It has to get into the air to absorb LWIR. And the author never claimed that it can “trap heat” while still in the ocean.

        Molecule for molecule, it traps nearly 30 times as much heat in the atmosphere as CO2.

      • That’s why I used quotation marks around “trap heat.”

        It retards cooling… But variations of the phrase “traps heat” are commonly used.

      • The only known entities in the universe that per se “traps heat” are the proverbial “Black Holes” that are [situated] at the centers of galaxies.

    • It tells you that methane seeps won’t “run up global temperature” because the “fertilization effect” is removing 1,900 CO2 molecules for every CH4 molecule emitted:

      In fact, the study finds that in such zones, nearly 1900 times more CO2 is being absorbed than methane emitted. That’s a small but real consolation for those concerned about global warming, Pohlman says: In these limited zones, the atmospheric benefit from CO2 sequestration is about 230 times greater than the warming effect from methane emissions.

    • I am constantly calling BS on this, and referring people to some science ->

      “… which means that if by some chance the methane levels were to double in the next hundred years, the total effect would be an increase in the atmospheric absorption of 0.8 W/m2. Less than a quarter of the effect of a doubling of CO2 … say what? This is supposed to be the dread methane, eleventy times more powerful than CO2? Less than one watt per doubling?”

      https://wattsupwiththat.com/2015/10/11/scientific-urban-legends/

      • Yes, absolute BS. CO2 affects a much larger portion of the spectrum then CH4. If CO2 was only 1600ppb, its incremental effect would be even larger still, thus is the nature of a logarithmic effect.

    • Thanks for all thr replies.

      At current rates, in 100 years, methane might run up global temperatures almost a tenth of a degree. That’s why the climateers resort to the bombastic propaganda.

      • The Global Warming Potential (GWP) is a trick, which is used to give a wrong idea about the warming capabilities of methane (CH4) and nitrogen oxide (N2O). If you say that CH4 is 28 times stronger GH gas than CO2, it is wrong. A N2O or CH4 gas molecule can absorb just a certain amount of LW radiation each time a photon hits it having the right wavelength. It does not effect at all that it may stay longer in the atmosphere than a CO2 molecule. I have calculated the real relative strengths of CH4, N2O, and H2O and the results are in relation to CO2: H2O 11.8, CH4 0.109 and N2O 0.14. Water is the strongest GH gas following by CO2. N2O and CH4 have a very small effect in the GH phenomenon.

      • The devil is in the details, and in this case, the details are all the weasel words and other forms of bullshit and and propaganda that have been puked out by our wonderful one sided left-wing scientific illiterate news media over the last several decades.

    • Steve Case – May 9, 2017 at 5:26 am

      Traps 30 times as much heat as CO2”

      Just exactly what does that mean?

      Given the fact it was stated to be “molecule for molecule, then it must have been in reference to the great difference in the Specific Heat Capacity of the two molecules, to wit:

      Carbon dioxide (CO2) —– Specific Heat Capacity – 0.844 kJ/kg K
      Methane —— (CH4) —— Specific Heat Capacity – 2.220 kJ/kg K

      Really annoys me that no one on the skeptical side of thing calls BS on this crap!

      Steve C, here are two (2) more excerpts from the above commentary that are kinda “crappy”, to wit:

      Most atmospheric methane comes from biological sources—belching bovines and bacteria feasting on decomposing litter—or from the burning of fossil fuels.
      —————-

      [the 1st paragraph states] Research ……. suggests that where methane gas bubbles up from seafloor seeps, surface waters directly above absorb twice as much carbon dioxide (CO2) as surrounding waters.

      [whereas the 4th paragraph states] …. But the bigger surprise was that surface water CO2 levels dropped whenever their ship crossed a (methane) seep.

      • I suspect that those broad statements about cow belches and farts and bacteria were formulated in a profound ignorance of clathrates and their formation and break down. We currently don’t even have a really trustworthy estimate of their occurrence.

      • In fact, the heat capacity of methane per mole or per molecule is only slightly larger than that of carbon dioxide (molecular weight of methane = 16, carbon dioxide = 44).. In any case, the heat capacity of these gases is completely irrelevant to their greenhouse potential.

  3. Why is this publication not known as “Settled Science”? It’s so blindingly obvious that we know everything, especially about the whole-system, space-to-sea floor carbon cycle.

  4. It may not be the methane itself. It may be the process that caused the methane to melt and rise in the water column. The upwelling nutrients are causing increased photosynthesis. It’s not obvious to me that the methane bubbling up the water column is causing the upwelling of the nutrients.

    • Unfortunately, the paper is behind a paywall at PNAS…

      Enhanced CO2 uptake at a shallow Arctic Ocean seep field overwhelms the positive warming potential of emitted methane

      John W. Pohlmana,1, Jens Greinertb,c,d, Carolyn Ruppela, Anna Silyakovac, Lisa Vielstädteb, Michael Cassoa, Jürgen Mienertc, and Stefan Bünzc
      Author Affiliations

      Edited by Jonathan J. Cole, Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies, Avon, NC, and approved March 8, 2017 (received for review November 15, 2016)

      Significance

      Methane released from the seafloor and transported to the atmosphere has the potential to amplify global warming. At an arctic site characterized by high methane flux from the seafloor, we measured methane and carbon dioxide (CO2) exchange across the sea−air interface. We found that CO2 uptake in an area of elevated methane efflux was enhanced relative to surrounding waters, such that the negative radiative forcing effect (cooling) resulting from CO2 uptake overwhelmed the positive radiative forcing effect (warming) supported by methane output. Our work suggests physical mechanisms (e.g., upwelling) that transport methane to the surface may also transport nutrient-enriched water that supports enhanced primary production and CO2 drawdown. These areas of methane seepage may be net greenhouse gas sinks.

      Abstract

      Continued warming of the Arctic Ocean in coming decades is projected to trigger the release of teragrams (1 Tg = 106 tons) of methane from thawing subsea permafrost on shallow continental shelves and dissociation of methane hydrate on upper continental slopes. On the shallow shelves (<100 m water depth), methane released from the seafloor may reach the atmosphere and potentially amplify global warming. On the other hand, biological uptake of carbon dioxide (CO2) has the potential to offset the positive warming potential of emitted methane, a process that has not received detailed consideration for these settings. Continuous sea−air gas flux data collected over a shallow ebullitive methane seep field on the Svalbard margin reveal atmospheric CO2 uptake rates (−33,300 ± 7,900 μmol m−2⋅d−1) twice that of surrounding waters and ∼1,900 times greater than the diffusive sea−air methane efflux (17.3 ± 4.8 μmol m−2⋅d−1). The negative radiative forcing expected from this CO2 uptake is up to 231 times greater than the positive radiative forcing from the methane emissions. Surface water characteristics (e.g., high dissolved oxygen, high pH, and enrichment of 13C in CO2) indicate that upwelling of cold, nutrient-rich water from near the seafloor accompanies methane emissions and stimulates CO2 consumption by photosynthesizing phytoplankton. These findings challenge the widely held perception that areas characterized by shallow-water methane seeps and/or strongly elevated sea−air methane flux always increase the global atmospheric greenhouse gas burden.

      http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2017/05/02/1618926114

      • Some of the authors are USGS employees, i.e., US Government employees paid for by the US taxpayers.
        The report was published by the National Academy of Science, also largely supported by US taxpayers. Is not information developed by the Government to be shared with the public who paid for it, excepting issues of national security? Apparently not.

      • Ignore the “climate” throw-aways and the information is interesting. Upwelling areas like that described should also be enhanced in fishery status for the very same reasons.

  5. Scientifically reprehensible for a group of climate scientists to quote in one breath that methane is XXX times more potent a GHG than CO2, then in the other breath seek concessions because not much is known about methane as a GHG.
    Proper science does not advance in these ways. Good scientists tend not to publish until they can report meaningfully on uncertainties. Lack of attention to inconvenient confounding variables has long been a weakness in climate science. Here we see it again. Geoff.

    • Geoff – you somewhat point out one of the problems with the discussion/debate within “climate science”: the attribution of journalist’s or activist’s such as Al Gore remarks as if they are part of the scientific discourse.

      • Without a doubt, the abysmal nature of science journalism and university press release writing is a BIG part of the problem.

    • I worked with a group of Canadian government scientist for years. They are under the same “publish or perish” pressures as university-based scientists. Both would be better served if research publication was based on quality rather than quantity.

    • Or referencing “LOB” mod! But Google got me there. Before that, I was scratching my head. Line of Business? Low order byte? Loaf of Bread?

      • I wish that group was still around to lampoon the climate alarmists. Penn and Teller did a funny, albeit sailor-mouthed tribute to the warmista movement.

      • When you think of all the damage they have done, it’s hard not to get a little sailor mouthed on them.

  6. Interesting article. For the second question posed in the commentary (doubled up isolation) perhaps we should apply Hanlon’s Razor. I suspect there was a keen interest to include isolated, and it received some editorial scrutiny, so what we are seeing is a simple editing error that did not clean up the remnants of different versions.

    • You could also just assume that the author of the commentary was being a smart@$$ when he posed those questions… ;)

  7. So, methane and CO2 released by Ma Nature=Good, but methane and CO2 released (or caused by) man = Bad. Got it.

    • Life is one reason why earth’s climate system is largely self-regulating.

      The development of life is probably inevitable under certain conditions, such as those obtaining on the Hadean earth, thanks to energy cascades.

      • I would speculate that the presence of copious amounts of water in most of its possible states is another reason.

      • Pop,

        That’s one of the reasons. A different compound with gaseous, liquid and solid states might suffice elsewhere.

        But besides liquid water, ice and vapor, plus energy sources, Hadean earth’s seas, lakes and ponds also contained a rich “soup” of complex organic compounds, the constituents of life, such as amino and nucleic acids and lipids (which with proteins and carbohydrates compose living things here). Proteins are polymers (polypeptides) of 20 (out of some 500 known) amino acid monomers, while RNA and DNA are polymers of nucleotide monomers. Nucleotides consist of one of two ribose (five-carbon) sugars, one of five nucelobases and a phosphate group, which connects to form the backbone of the big biomolecule.

        RNA self-assembles in aqueous solution, but without a catalyst (enzyme) of some sort, has not been observed spontaneously forming long polymers, only shorter oligomers. The outstanding experimental issue is stitching together the phosphate backbone before it breaks apart. A number of naturally occurring catalysts have been found to do so, however, to include some clays. Concentrating the constituent parts in water pockets in ice also promotes the process. RNA is itself an enzyme, but has not yet been observed catalyzing its own synthesis into polymers. The possibility that amino acid oligomers (peptides) can serve as enzymes in RNA polymer synthesis is being investigated. This seems a reasonable hypothesis, since in modern organisms proteins act as enzymes both in RNA and DNA synthesis and in the formation of other proteins.

        The issue of how self-assembled lipid bilayer vesicles work as protocell membranes has been solved. Remaining engineering issues in creating artificial life are being overcome. The confluence of hydrothermal vents and ice in the Hadean might explain how RNA strands both came together, then parted. Another possibility is a sixth nucelobase, still used in a special application, which forms a more rickety polymer than normal RNA, hence separates from its mirror strand at lower temperature.

  8. Here you go.

    PNAS, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
    published May 2, 2017
    approved March 8, 2017
    received for review November 15, 2016
    doi: 10.1073/pnas.1618926114
    Enhanced CO2 uptake at a shallow Arctic Ocean seep field overwhelms the positive warming potential of emitted methane
    John W. Pohlman, Jens Greinert, Carolyn Ruppel, Anna Silyakova, Lisa Vielstädte, Michael Casso, Jürgen Mienert, and Stefan Bünz

  9. This is an interesting finding. It seems to be simply mixing bringing nutrients from the lower levels to the surface. I initially thought it was the gas rising that caused the mixing, but that is unclear, as it may be the process causing the upwelling that causes the gas to be evolved. Whether external mixing by humans would be possible on a useful scale I don’t know. This is similar to the ocean seeding trials. What is als uncertain is how long the carbon is locked up. If it forms carbonate shells that sink then it will be removed for a long time.

  10. Why are climate “scientists” always surprised when it turns out to not be worse than previously expected?

    The question may have been rhetorical, but I think it speaks to a truth among loosely defined ‘climate scientists’. Many of them didn’t follow the education/career path they did because of a love of science. They did it because they way they wanted to feel important was by saving the planet/environment from humans. There is nothing wrong with that, per se. I personally liked the idea of treating diseases such as Multiple Sclerosis, which didn’t seem sufficiently as popular with funding agencies.

    But my line of thought didn’t also require me to actually prove that Multiple Sclerosis and auto-immune diseases really exist. People who want to save the planet have aimed a lot higher and are still struggling with the burden of disproving that the planet may not actually be in immanent risk of anything due to human actions. To be confronted with the fact that they may have wasted much of their life and education is probably too much for many people to face directly. Therefore everything must be at least as bad as they initially though and, therefore, the continual “surprise” when it isn’t.

  11. “Molecule for molecule, it traps nearly 30 times as much heat in the atmosphere as CO2.” Looks like methane is alarmist plan B, the blockbuster sequel: Climate Change II — Coming to a Hot, Stuffy Theater Near You!!!

  12. Re: “Most atmospheric methane comes from… or from the burning of fossil fuels.”

    Every week or two my contempt increases, for “science communicators” who actually know no science.

    • I saw this comment as well, but I was just chalking it up to poor “journalism”.
      The last time I looked CH4 combines very readily with O2 to make CO, CO2, & H2O.

    • Note that the Sci-Hub link above is to a full copy of the paper that does not reside on PNAS servers, and is available without the need of credentials. Conversely, many of the links above that are posted in good faith by commenters who, nevertheless, appear to have a subscription that permits access to the full paper, do not yield the full paper without the use of such credentials.

    • Excellent find – I will look into Sci-Hub, thank you.

      From this paper they say
      “The relatively low seafloor methane flux at the WSM seep sites between 240 m and 385 m water depth (19) renders it unlikely that bubble associated buoyancy caused the upwelling, supporting the assumption
      that physical oceanographic processes alone are responsible for upwelling, independent of the presence of gas seepage.”

      That is, the upwelling is occurring anyway, methane is not anything to do with the cause. Methane can be a marker for this sort of upwelling.

      • That is interesting as it seems to negate everything about the title of the paper!

        With this statement, the real finding is that upwelling of cold, nutrient rich, sea water reduces dissolved CO2 content at the surface. I doubt that the reduction in dissolved CO2 can be due the temperature, so the real cause of the CO2 reduction is increased phytoplankton growth because of deep water nutrients are available at photosynthetic depths. I guess that doesn’t give the the authors the required global warming/climate change headline so they had to shoe-horn something else into the title to make sure it got published, but we should be grateful that it didn’t get spiked because it wasn’t WTWT (TM)*

        *Worse Than We Thought

  13. A couple of observations:

    You can’t tell Warmians that something stops Global/Climate/Changing. They’ll lose their minds. They’ll have no purpose left in life, and no grant money will be available for their Climate Gods to live on. They’ll have no one left to worship.

    Al Gore needs to lose about 50 pounds and grow that beard back. He’s a major contributor to Climate Change, every time he runs his mouth. If only a major storm would target his house, I’d be quite happy.

    Last but not least, I still have to run the furnace. The overnight temperature was barely 40F. If I ever get to turn off the furnace, I’ll let you all know.

    • The alarmists attribute your cold experiences to “natural variation” but are quick to blame a hot spell on AGW.
      There is also the claim that a warming planet can experience colder extremes. Odd that cold is actually the absence of energy, just as indoctrination is the absence of critical observation.

  14. When the water is deep enough, microbes always consume the hydrocarbons.
    The ingredient required to encourage a plankton bloom is iron.

    The upwelling current must bring up the ingredients.

    http://www-formal.stanford.edu/jmc/progress/iron/iron.html

    The CO2 absorbed by the ocean is carried deep as the cold water sinks,
    where the CO2 concentrates at great depth, and part of it precipitates,
    frequently as CACO3. (See Cliffs of Dover.)

    I see the iron as the important factor here. Methane is always eaten by
    microbes if it is released at depth great enough to to allow enough time
    for the bloom to feast.

    • Okay, how many of those microbes are thermophiles and how many are chemophiles? You haven’t provided that information.

  15. My favorite paragraph…

    “If CH4 is so much worse than CO2… Why do “scientists know relatively little about its role in the global carbon cycle,” while seeming to know everything there is to know about CO2 and its role in the global carbon cycle?”

    …and the answer is

    because they haven’t figured out a way to monitize methane releases…yet.

  16. Interesting that methanotrophs seem to do something in their life cycle to encourage the growth of photosynthetic plankton. The lesson here seems to be “it ain’t that simple”.

    • Tom H, the methanotrophs eat the CH4, use the hydrogen for energy and
      excrete the carbon. Their complete life cycle, in the presence of iron, could
      very well enrich the water as they do topsoil and encourage the plankton
      bloom.

  17. “This is … totally unexpected,” says Brett Thornton, a geochemist at Stockholm University who was not involved in the research. ”

    I am more impressed when scientists are amazed at what they find than when they find what they expected (i.e., needed).

  18. Another article showing that the bias in favor of AGW is not absolute at Science Magazine.

    This is good and interesting news if the study and its findings can be replicated elsewhere by other teams.

  19. Well well well…. Who would have thought that a process that has been going on for billions of years… Mother nature would put to use and incorporate it in the cycle of life… Let me answer my own question… The Progressive/CAGW types!

  20. I see some comments about “trapping heat” in regards to methane. Who came up with the stupid idea that absorption of heat is “trapping” it, or even slowing down heat loss. It is the opposite of preventing heat loss.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thermal_insulation
    “Thermal insulation provides a region of insulation in which thermal conduction is reduced or thermal radiation is reflected rather than absorbed by the lower-temperature body.”

    Look at the last words there. The exact same mechanism claimed by climate science to “trap heat”, or “prevent heat loss”, or “slow down cooling”, is what IS cooling. Absorption is what you want to avoid to prevent heat loss. How can everyone miss this. I´m starting to think skeptics are as stupid as climate priests.

    • It’s not being missed, at least not by most people here. But people just get lazy when they speak and write about it. We’ve had long arguments about the propaganda value of the misnamed term “greenhouse effect,” but most people just think it’s baked in, and though we understand that it’s a horrible, sloppy, unscientific misnomer, fighting it in both the scientific literature and the pop culture is a Quixotic task.

      • While the so-called “greenhouse effect” doesn’t work like a greenhouse, I have never been able to come up with a better nickname.

        Regarding the adoption of common use language, at some point it becomes futile to fight back.

        “Fracking” is a good example. I don’t think I’ve ever seen the words “frack, “fracked” or “fracking” on a well scout ticket. Hydraulic fracturing was always abbreviated as “frac.” On the rare occasions when an ‘ed or ‘ing was required, it was spelled “frac’ed” or “frac’ing.” I used to quibble about the spelling… But then I just gave up and adopted “frack, “fracked” and “fracking”… Plus, “frack, “fracked” and “fracking” work quite well as polite-ish substitutes for the “F-word.”

      • Can everybody adopt the same attitude to ocean acidification please? You might not like the term, but like the greenhouse effect and the spelling of fracking it has become widely accepted and there is no substitute.

      • I occasionally slip up and call it “ocean acidification”… but I try very hard to call it “ocean neutralization” or “Chicken Little of the Sea.”

        Seawater can’t become acidic (pH < 7.0) at any CO2 concentrations experienced throughout the Phanerozoic Eon.

      • Yes, but like the greenhouse effect is not like a greenhouse, yet we all use the term anyway. Ocean acidification is at least in one sense technically correct, because it is becoming more acidic and it has been adopted as the term everyone uses for the effect of ocean neutralisation. I suggest that we have reached the point where it becomes futile to fight back.

        Interestingly, pH 7 is not always neutrality. At high temperatures Kw of water is higher than 14, so neutrality occurs at lower pH, with higher concentrations of both H+ and OH-. This does not really affect the argument here, since the sea is not at high temperatures, but it is important to note that pH 7 and neutral are not the same thing.

      • pH is definitely a non-conservative quantity. Temperature, pressure, salinity and quite a few other factors come into play. That’s why it’s usually calculated from dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC) and total alkalinity (TA).

        Irrespective of its common usage, ocean acidification implies that the oceans are becoming acidic; when they are not. Even at 3,000 ppm CO2, the oceans would not be acidic.

        http://instaar.colorado.edu/~marchitt/reprints/hoenischscience12.pdf

      • The difference sealice is that acidification is a scary term. It gives people the impression that they are going to dissolve if they take a swim.
        As such, it is not a neutral term in the sense that greenhouse is.

      • David Middleton May 10, 2017 at 3:15 am
        I occasionally slip up and call it “ocean acidification”… but I try very hard to call it “ocean neutralization” or “Chicken Little of the Sea.”

        Seawater can’t become acidic (pH < 7.0) at any CO2 concentrations experienced throughout the Phanerozoic Eon.

        Actually it’s far worse to call it neutralization which means equal concentrations of H+ and OH- which as you point out is virtually impossible. Seawater acidification means to increase the H+ concentration, in a lab manual if it says to ‘acidify the solution to pH8’ it means to add enough acid to achieve that pH, to neutralize the solution means to add enough acid to achieve pH7 at 25ºC.

    • lifeisthermal May 9, 2017 at 10:12 am

      “Thermal insulation provides a region of insulation in which thermal conduction is reduced or thermal radiation is reflected rather than absorbed by the lower-temperature body.”

      Look at the last words there. The exact same mechanism claimed by climate science to “trap heat”, or “prevent heat loss”, or “slow down cooling”, is what IS cooling. Absorption is what you want to avoid to prevent heat loss. How can everyone miss this. I´m starting to think skeptics are as stupid as climate priests.

      ‘Absorption by the lower-temperature body’, is what needs to be prevented. In the case of the Earth it is heat loss to space which must be prevented, which is what absorption by the atmosphere does.

      • “In the case of the Earth it is heat loss to space which must be prevented, which is what absorption by the atmosphere does”

        And now you need a reference outside of greenhouse-theory to support that. Or did you think you can just make things up?
        The atmosphere is an extra heat sink. You would know that if you hade done tour physics.

      • lifeisthermal May 10, 2017 at 12:08 pm
        “In the case of the Earth it is heat loss to space which must be prevented, which is what absorption by the atmosphere does”

        And now you need a reference outside of greenhouse-theory to support that. Or did you think you can just make things up?
        The atmosphere is an extra heat sink. You would know that if you hade done tour physics.

        It appears you have no clue as to what ‘greenhouse-theory’ involves, that you think that ‘heat loss to space’ is somehow ‘outside greenhouse-theory’ is bizarre.

  21. I see some comments about “trapping heat” in regards to methane. Who came up with the stupid idea that absorption of heat is “trapping” it, or even slowing down heat loss. It is the opposite of preventing heat loss.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thermal_insulation
    “Thermal insulation provides a region of insulation in which thermal conduction is reduced or thermal radiation is reflected rather than absorbed by the lower-temperature body.”

    Look at the last words there. The exact same mechanism claimed by climate science to “trap heat”, or “prevent heat loss”, or “slow down cooling”, is what IS cooling. Absorption is what you want to avoid to prevent heat loss. How can everyone miss this. I´m starting to think skeptics are as stupid as climate priests.

  22. “Such a “fertilization effect” would be “really surprising,” says Thornton…”

    WHAT!? Are you out of your mind? Whales don’t migrate northward into cold water because there’s less food there. Peruvian fisherman didn’t name El Nino because there had never been any fish off the coast, but because fish were NOT found there. Cold water upwelling is like the buffet table for sea life. There is MORE food there. But surprising? No way Jose. Surprising my sweet patootie, mutter, mutter, mutter, well maybe surprising if you’re suffering under some particular delusions or beholden to a particular religious dogma about the impending catastrophic end of the world. But otherwise, no, perfectly sensible, predictable, expected, known to fishermen, marine biologists and cetacean experts for years.

    • Coastal upwelling is what makes South American Pacific fisheries so productive, leading to the vast sea bird guano deposits mined during the 19th century.

  23. “Good news about climate change is especially rare in the Arctic. But now comes news that increases in one greenhouse gas-methane-lead to the dramatic decline of another.”

    Excuse me Mr. Hyman,
    but the science is settled. CC is BAD. Please adjust your data accordingly.

  24. That is just so beautiful. Little methane bubbles lifting trace elements from the sea floor to where plants can use them.
    No chance a few windmills might do similar, just pumping air down the the sea-floor?

    All did you see that, you peeps who see salvation via ‘CO2 fertilisation’, carbon dioxide didn’t do it here.
    So no, plants will not belch forth from oceans of sand & rock just because we tease them with a whiff of CO2.

    Not that we ourselves should be eating the plants of course, no matter how pretty and lovely they may seem but, they’re still useful things to have around.

  25. Not totally offtopic, according to NOAA’s NSIDC, Arctic sea ice extent yesterday was still higher than on May 8 in 2016 and 2015. Its slower than average melt rate continues, such that soon it might be higher than in 2014 as well.

    If 2017 is “sure” to be a new, lower record year, then there will have to be cyclones in late summer, as in the low years of 2007, 2012 and 2016.

    • Should see if Griff is still up for a bet on that? Last I heard he is still saying this year will be a new low. Looks like all the evidence is for normal to cooler like conditions this summer, albeit starting from fairly low ice conditions from last year.

    • Ron,

      Winter maximum was just slightly below that of recent years, which led to cooler waters, due to heat lost from oceans without more ice cover.

      A new record remains a possibility, of course, if yet again there are two Arctic cyclones in late summer, but the way to bet now would be for something between the record low of 2012 and the highs of the past ten years in 2009, 2013 and 2014, which were in the 30-year normal range. The next lowest years were 2007 and 2016, when August cyclones hit, as in 2012.

      http://nsidc.org/arcticseaicenews/charctic-interactive-sea-ice-graph/

      • True, but I limited my comments to the past ten years, since the first breakdown in 2007. The prior year ended up well into the normal zone. Maybe 2017 will, too. That would help confirm the bottoming behavior of the past decade.

      • That is quite a wide range – somewhere between the minimum and maximum of the last 10 years. I will offer a bet based in yours. If it s lower than the 2012 minimum I win, if it is higher than 2009 minimum you win. If it is between nobody wins.

  26. This should be good news for developing NG from methane hydrate deposits. I wonder how long before major advancements are made in this field.

    As natural gas from shale becomes a global energy “game changer,” oil and gas researchers are working to develop new technologies to produce natural gas from methane hydrate deposits. This research is important because methane hydrate deposits are believed to be a larger hydrocarbon resource than all of the world’s oil, natural gas and coal resources combined. If these deposits can be efficiently and economically developed, methane hydrate could become the next energy game changer.

    http://geology.com/articles/methane-hydrates/

    • The “IF’s” are huge.

      Japan cheers world-first gas from methane hydrates

      News Wires

      12 March 2013

      Japan has achieved the world’s first gas extraction from offshore methane hydrate deposits, said energy explorer Japan Oil, Gas and Metals National Corp (JOGMEC), who is targeting commercial production within six years.
      A Reuters report on Tuesday stated that since 2001, several hundred million dollars have been invested in developing technology to tap methane hydrate reserves, estimated to equate to about 11 years of gas consumption, off Japan’s coast.

      State-run JOGMEC said the gas was tapped from deposits of methane hydrate, a frozen gas known as “flammable ice”, near Japan’s central coast.

      Japan imports almost all of its energy needs and is the world’s top importer of liquefied natural gas. The lure of domestic gas resources has intensified following the Fukushima nuclear crisis two years ago, which triggered a shake-up of the country’s energy sector.

      According to Reuters, Japan’s trade ministry said the production tests would continue for about two weeks, followed by analysis on how much gas was produced.

      […]

      Upstream Online

      Based on this economic analysis, methane hydrate production would be uneconomic…

      42-174 JPY/m^3 works out to about $12-$45/mcf… Equivalent to oil prices of $71 to $269/boe.

    • That is just too fracking funny. I got the Science article off of Real Clear Science this morning… LOL!

  27. “Pohlman and his team conclude that the same physical forces that are pushing the methane bubbles up are also pumping nutrient-rich cold waters from the sea bed to the surface, fertilizing phytoplankton blooms that soak up CO2, they write today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.”

    Wow, it’s as if the earth had natural ways of balancing itself out.

  28. Global warming potentials of all ghg which do not condense in the atmosphere (CO2, CH4, O3) are all bogus. Duration in the atmosphere cancels out. Thermalization and the Maxwell-Boltzmann distribution of molecule energy obviate considerations of absorption cross-section and effectively shift the energy absorbed by CO2 to the lower energy absorb/emit bands of water vapor. The ‘notches’ in top-of-atmosphere measurements demonstrate the validity of this assessment.

    The only thing countering the temperature decline that would otherwise be occurring is the increasing trend in water vapor. Average global atmospheric water vapor has been measured and reported by NASA/RSS since 1988 and shows an uptrend of 1.5% per decade. WV has increased about 8% since the more rapid increase began in about 1960. The warmer temperature is welcome but the added WV increases the risk of flooding. IMO all rainwater retaining systems (dams, dykes, etc.) should be upgraded from 100 yr floods to 10,000 yr floods.

  29. When you pump that pollution in cant be good. So why are you defending it. Has to mess something up bad.

  30. “…But the bigger surprise was that surface water CO2 levels dropped whenever their ship crossed a seep…”

    How could this be a “biogeochemist?” Ask even a high school chemistry student, and they’ll tell you that (all other things being equal and at equilibrium of course) CO2 levels will drop as concentrations of another gas (e.g., methane) increase at that location. The only way for the CO2 levels to stay the same (or increase) as methane is added is if the pressure increases. Well surface water is open to the atmosphere, so…

    • Michael. It is not as obvious as you think. The methane is not dissolved, but in bubbles. They show that the bubble size and concentration would not lead to the observed reduction in CO2 levels. Sometimes when high school chemistry appears to show that the experts are barking up the wrong tree it is because things are a little more complicated.

  31. When we see the nonsense that is distributed by the alarmist warmists A quote from Albert Einstein comes to mind “two things are infinite ,the universe and human stupidity ,and I am not sure about the universe.”

  32. It would impress me if anyone can tell me how methane is produced from burning fossil fuels. I would think the burning would turn the Methane into CO2 and H2O no?

    “Most atmospheric methane comes from biological sources—belching bovines and bacteria feasting on decomposing litter—or from the burning of fossil fuels.”

    • The rule only applies to flaring on Federal leases. The vast majority of the Bakken, where flaring is very prevalent, isn’t on Federal leases.

      The Obama administration finalized a rule in November that would force energy companies to capture methane that’s burned off or “flared” at drilling sites because it earns less money than oil.

      Energy companies frequently “flare” or burn off vast supplies of methane — the primary component of natural gas — at drilling sites because it earns less money than oil. An estimated $330 million a year in natural gas is wasted through leaks or intentional releases — enough to power about 5 million homes a year.

      Gas flaring is so prevalent in oil-rich North Dakota that night-time flaring activity on drilling sites is visible in NASA photos from space.

      This rule has very little effect on North Dakota (home of most of the Bakken) because almost all of the production is from State and privately owned leases.

      This rule is dumb on two levels:
      1. Flared gas is burned.
      2. Oil wells that can’t economically be tied into gas pipelines will be shut in.

      If the gas was economically recoverable, they wouldn’t be flaring it.

      • Just more idiotic feel-good gobbledygook to appease the Green Monster.

        Gas from federal leases is insignificant in any case.

      • It has a negative return, or it would already be being captured and sold without government intervention.

  33. From a News search on Methane just now:

    Senate votes to keep limits on dangerous methane pollution
    Environment America – ‎2 hours ago‎
    Methane is a potent greenhouse gas, 84 times more powerful than carbon dioxide over a 20 year period when it comes to creating global warming. Thanks to the Obama Administration rule that will now stay on the books, oil and gas operations on public …

    Trump’s Reversal Of Obama’s BLM Methane Rule Just Failed In The Senate
    The Hayride – ‎3 hours ago‎
    It failed thanks to three Republicans voting against the overturn of the methane rule, and you can probably guess who the three are: John McCain, Lindsey Graham and Susan Collins. Thanks to their efforts, there is less incentive to pursue domestic energy.

    So the “84 times more powerful than carbon dioxide over a 20 year period … blah… blah… blah” bullshit wins the day.

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