Saturday, March 16, 2013

Record Methane in Arctic early March 2013

The image below, produced by Dr. Leonid Yurganov, shows methane levels for the first ten days of March 2013.

Methane levels for this period are at record highs in the Barents and Norwegian Seas, i.e. the highest levels ever recorded by IASI, which is is short for Infrared Atmospheric Sounding Interferometer, a Fourier transform spectrometer on board the European EUMETSAT Metop satellite that has supplied data since 2007.

The record levels are indicated on the image below at the top right, while the geographical location of the four domains distinguished in the image are illustrated on the image further below.

The image at the top of this post displays average methane levels for the period March 1 to 10, 2013, at 600 mb. On individual days and on specific locations, methane levels could be much higher, as illustrated by the NOAA image below showing methane levels reaching a high of 2237 ppb on March 6, 2013, at 742 mb. The empty image further below is added to help distinguish land contours.

The earlier post Dramatic increase in methane in the Arctic in January 2013 showed that high methane levels lined up closely with the contours of land and sea ice. The same is the case for the record levels of methane in early March, as illustrated by the animation below.

IASI methane levels March 1-10, 2013 against
NSIDC sea ice concentration map March 12, 2013.
Note: this is a 3.09 file that may take some time to fully load. 
Finally, two maps showing temperature anomalies. The NOAA image below shows Sea Surface Temperature anomalies of over 8 degrees Celsius on March 8, 2013.

Air temperatures are more volatile than sea temperatures, as the wind can quickly change the situation. The image below shows how, as the jet stream weakens in speed and becomes more wavier, large patches with over 20 degrees Celsius surface temperature anomalies can extend into the Arctic.

BTW, the above image also shows large temperature anomalies in Antarctica, which has also shown high levels of methane recently. This will be discussed in more detail in a post elsewhere soon.


  1. Seeing satellite maps of Earth's temperature anomalies and methane levels along with maps or graphs of how those levels changed with time enables people to think about what's happening.
    But the relevance of the Barents and Norwegians Sea rise in methane levels, isn't getting news coverage it deserves. Particularly in light of inaction of the world to undertake shielding of the Arctic seriously this year- while there might still be an outside chance to keep Earth alive and affects of Runaway CH4 from becoming all too real. -It boggles the mind. -Do politicians and military security guys think for a moment that what is happening will stop or let up in its rate of increase on its own and not cause the rise of even further increase unlimited in hardship. Food prices are going to skyrocket and three things are going to come together in a primary swirl. Human frailty, Earth's Temp rise and the frailty of a civilization that's based on money which isn't tied or connected in principle to reflect its worth in keeping Earth alive.. As a whole, the rate of change going on with CH4 increase at lower altitudes is reflected in what is going into the Stratosphere. A veil accumulating worldwide to cast heat down upon us.. Reversing this is near impossible; It's pretty well locked in. Temp anomalies in reality are responses to prior increases of gas.
    It would be fun to try and stop this given fair chance.

    1. -Do politicians and military security guys think... No, its not in their business model. Rising food prices... Good, more taxes. Rising sea levels and climate change problems... they'll believe it when they see it, meanwhile, there is too much fossil fuel to tax.

  2. I'd really like to see climate models for the changing jet stream that this and the absence of ice will enable. Or estimates or just some more data along those lines.

  3. Are there studies, or conjectures as to how fast the Arctic atmospheric methane is mixed and well distributed globally?

  4. Thank you so much Sam, i've been reading you for some time now and yours it's probably the most clear voice out there now. I have a question. After this post I decided that I didn't want to wait for the next installment from Yurganov, so I started following the methane with Giovanni/AIRS here: I'm basically running CH4 volume mixing ratio descending or ascending on 160hPa to 359hPa. My question is: have you noticed that from April 1st on, most readings of methane appear to be blank? Does it mean that it can't find any methane (that methane release has stopped altogether)? or it means that it's lacking data? Have you seen anything recent from IASI? I wonder what's going on.

  5. I just realized I didn't include the link to the animation on my post. I don't know if you can edit it to add this link. This is one of the animations I generated (CH4 descending, 160hPa, March 15th to April 4th): and, is there any other instruments out there to measure atmospheric methane in the Arctic other than IASI, AIRS or flasks?

    1. Thanks, Omar. I think there are some problems with AIRS which has already outlived its expected lifetime and is not as sensitive as IASI. There are a few further data available, such as regular in situ measurements from instruments at a number of locations (but sadly no longer from Barrow) and occasional measurements from airplanes, submarines and other under-water vehicles. The IASI satellite data seem the best available and they can be obtained from NOAA. Also see this page from apocalypse4real.