Monday, August 4, 2014

Warm waters threaten to trigger huge methane eruptions from Arctic Ocean seafloor

The evidence of abrupt high methane releases in the Arctic Ocean is accumulating. The graph below shows in situ methane measurements taken at the Barrow Observatory, including recent levels as high as close to 2200 parts per billion (ppb).

Satellite data picture a similarly dire situation. Global mean methane levels as high as 1831 ppb were recorded on the morning of July 30, 2014, while peak methane levels as high as 2330 ppb were recorded that morning. More recently, peak methane levels as high as 2522 ppb were recorded (on August 2, 2014).

IPCC/NOAA figures suggest that methane levels were rising by some 5 to 6 ppb annually, reaching 1814 ppb in 2013. While methane levels at lower altitudes have indeed shown little rise, much larger rises have been recorded at higher altitudes, as illustrated by the image below.

These high methane levels recorded at higher altitudes appear to be caused by the huge quantities of methane released from the seafloor of the Arctic Ocean during the period from end 2013 to early 2014. This methane has meanwhile risen to higher altitudes, while also descending to lower latitudes, wreaking havoc on weather patterns around latitude 60° North.

The releases of methane from the seafloor of the Arctic Ocean were caused by water that had warmed up strongly off the east coast of North America from June 2013. It took some months for this warm water to be carried by the Gulf Stream into the Arctic Ocean.

Meanwhile, very high sea surface temperatures are recorded in the Arctic Ocean, as above image shows, while warm water is carried into the Arctic Ocean by the Gulf Stream, as illustrated by the image below.

As said, the situation is dire and calls for comprehensive and effective action, as discussed at the Climate Plan blog.


  1. If only we knew what all of the readings have been over the last 7 years.

    I bookmarked this one back in the day - One of the photos from semiltoves 2011 expedition

    Essentially, it's a portent to what was/is to come from open sea ice. Taken from a polynya, so basically where the ice cover melts and exposes the water.

    You don't see it on any of those graphs, nor do we see a lot of data points in general if you've watched as the years went by, they go missing.

  2. Regarding methane, this event should be the #1 topic here for a while:

    1. The location of the blow outs is generally proximate to location to where P/T Siberian Traps happened 250 to 252m years ago. It is possible the mantel is reacting to heat trapping blanket of Methane above Earth growing and heat is on the move upward. It's likely heat had to get at underside of permafrost cap rock for lack of better word. The events do look ominous indeed.

  3. A spiking pulse going on right now without a definable limit for the moment? In time? size? area? height? latitude? Is it runaway or just its precursor?

  4. I really do understand what the Professor is talking about, he is talking about his Daughter just like I think about My GodDaughter and her Sister ..?

    He is talking in relation to : and the fact that the latest discovery's the past 6 month on Methane make the LastHours 100 year Time line "Conservative" in a programm in which he
    participated and was produced "Only" 18 month ago on the subject of Methane ..?

    The new timeline looks more like 5 to 15 years, just look at the Washington Post 5 August we should all be on the Street asking questions ..?

    What we are all seeing is so called SHALE Gas., its everywhere = We live on a Dangerous Gas Planet, when you heat the surface of the Planet the SHALE GAS reacts and is released into the atmosphere at a rate of 25 x Co2 = SHALE Gas deposits = 200x (Times ) Our Combined Co2 Emissions over 200 years ...?

    This means that if "ONLY" 0.5% of the SHALE Gas escaped = Total Destruction To Our Way Of Life a fact which Professors Santo Baines Oxford University already documented during his studies of ice core 690 had already happened 5 times in past history due to 1 thing and 1 thing "ONLY" the heating of SHALE GAS ..?

    The Professor is absolutely correct we are "Fucked " if we think we have control over SHALE GAS, and if you are not convinced yet just watch

    Natalia Shakhova ? Explain just how realistic the 0.5% SHALE GAS release is from the LapTev Sea .?

    But Jorn stop talking this nonsense, Methane does not escape from Siberia as it really never does Melt in the summer its frozen rock solid..?

    Right I see exactly what you mean Siberia has a Stable Frozen Climate ? =

    If Stable is being on a Beach in a Hail Storm, I really think we need to look closely at the definition of the word "Stable" ..?

    Keep saying watch out =


    — Jason Box (@climate_ice) July 29, 2014

    The study concerns the large deposits of methane (CH4) — a greenhouse gas over twenty times more potent than CO2 — known to be buried beneath the Arctic. Stockholm University researchers found that some of that methane is leaking, and even making it to the ocean’s surface. They called the discovery “somewhat of a surprise,” which, according to Box, doesn’t quite communicate its importance. Motherboard senior editor Brian Merchant, sensing an opportunity to speak climate in more accessible language, followed up with Box, who stood by his assertion (and use of foul language):

    “Even if a small fraction of the Arctic carbon were released to the atmosphere, we’re fucked,” he told me. What alarmed him was that ”the methane bubbles were reaching the surface. That was something new in my survey of methane bubbles,” he said.

    “The conventional thought is that the bubbles would be dissolved before they reached the surface and that microorganisms would consume that methane, and that’s normal,” Box went on. But if the plumes are making it to the surface, that’s a brand new source of heat-trapping gases that we need to worry about.

  5. I just checked the Barrow plot and it looks quite different from your first graphic. What's going on?

    1. Yes, I saw that too. NOAA recently erased some data from the plots.

  6. Those data from Barrow do NOT look good, particularly the clustering of spikes at the most recent end. Looks ominous.

  7. The recent findings by the University of Stockholm are alarming...