Monday, November 11, 2013

Methane Levels going through the Roof

On November 9, 2013, methane readings well over 2600 ppb were recorded at multiple altitudes, as illustrated by the image below.

[ click on image to enlarge ]
On November 9, 2013, p.m., methane readings were recorded as high as 2662 parts per billion (ppb), at 586 millibars (mb) pressure, which corresponds with an altitude of 14384.6 feet or 4384.4 meters.

Where did these high levels occur? Methane levels were low on the southern hemisphere and, while there were some areas with high readings over North America and Asia, there were no areas as wide and bright yellow as over the Arctic Ocean (the color yellow indicating readings of 1950 ppb and higher on above map).

As discussed in a previous post, huge amounts of methane are now escaping from the seabed of the Arctic Ocean, penetrating the sea ice, and entering the atmosphere, in a process that appears to be accelerating, resulting in huge amounts of methane in the atmosphere over the Arctic Ocean.

The image below gives an idea of the height of this level, compared to historic levels, and how fast levels of methane (CH4) have been rising compared to levels of two other greenhouse gases, i.e. carbon dioxide (CO2) and nitrous oxide (N2O).

Recent peak levels of methane over the Arctic Ocean may well have been even higher, since NOAA didn't release any readings for November 5-7, 2013.

Meanhwile, sea ice extent has stopped growing, as illustrated by the NSIDC graph below.

Data from the Cryosphere Today show that the area covered by sea ice has actually fallen over the past few days, as illustrated by the image below.

[ click on image to enlarge ]
There are several reasons why sea ice isn't growing, including high temperature anomalies in the Arctic, as illustrated by the NOAA image below, showing surface temperature anomalies of over 20 degrees Celsius on November 7, 2013.

High methane levels are contributing to temperature anomalies, by trapping additional sunlight in the atmosphere over the Arctic Ocean.

Furthermore, strong winds have hit the sea ice, as the recent post Methane, Faults and Sea Ice warned. Strong winds are pushing sea ice inward in the Kara Sea and in the Chukchi Sea, while pushing sea ice - up to 5 meters thick - out of the Arctic Ocean along the coast of Greenland, as illustrated by the Naval Research Laboratory animation below.

The Naval Research Laboratory image below shows ice speed and drift on November 9, 2013.

So, could Arctic sea ice collapse and totally disappear in September 2014? Posts at this blog have repeatedly warned about this, e.g. in this post. The image below, created by Wipneus, shows an exponential trendline pointing at zero volume sea ice in September 2016.
All data over the past two decades have fallen within the 95% confidence limits of an exponential trendline that points at imminent loss of all Arctic sea ice within years. September 2013 may have been "only" the 4th lowest on record, but such variability can be expected and may well cause sea ice to disappear completely as early as September 2014.

Strong winds can speed up such a collapse. On this point, it's good to remember what Prof. Peter Wadhams warned about in 2012:
". . apart from melting, strong winds can also influence sea ice extent, as happened in 2007 when much ice was driven across the Arctic Ocean by southerly winds (not northerly, as she stated). The fact that this occurred can only lead us to conclude that this could happen again. Natural variability offers no reason to rule out such a collapse, since natural variability works both ways, it could bring about such a collapse either earlier or later than models indicate.

In fact, the thinner the sea ice gets, the more likely an early collapse is to occur. It is accepted science that global warming will increase the intensity of extreme weather events, so more heavy winds and more intense storms can be expected to increasingly break up the remaining ice, both mechanically and by enhancing ocean heat transfer to the under-ice surface."
Guy McPherson lists 26 feedbacks that speed up warming, and many of these feedbacks occur in the Arctic, as described in the post Diagram of Doom.

Soon, calculates Prof. Peter Wadhams, the albedo loss due to decline of snow and ice in the Arctic will effectively more than double the net radiative forcing resulting from the emissions caused by all people of the world. Additional warming caused by methane releases from the Arctic seabed could be even more devastating.

Hopefully, more people will realize the urgency of the situation and realize the need for a comprehensive and effective plan of action as described here.


  1. This year, the record was not. And what might look like in the coming years.
    Is it really ice melt to zero in 2015?

    1. Thanks for commenting, Hubert. I've meanwhile added some further notes on what this means for the outlook of the sea ice.

    2. In my country it takes COP19 (the second day), but rather will end on empty slogans. Same as previous. This can only mean trouble.

  2. Wasn't sure if you were aware of this article from MIT about specific mechanisms of methane release through seabed soil?

    1. Thanks for that, I hadn't seen that! The paper, at
      is hidden behind a paywall, but there's also some good coverage at

  3. Terrifying.

    Geo-engineering is our only realistic strategy, and most of those options are scary themselves. Whats gob smacking is that there is a distinct possibility that even those might be too late. It's been said before, by lots of people, but the worlds governments need to act, like yesterday, and tell people about the situation.

    I'd go out and paint a roof white, I'd go out and help build equipment and structures, I'd donate money, time, and anything else that was needed to any effort that has a global participation. A lot of people would.

    Knowledge is power, right now the only ones able to wield that power are governments and a sprinkling of individuals and groups.

    That is not working - the misunderstood issue is that governments are paralyzed by the bureaucracy and framework that allows money and short term gains for the minority to prevail, and the moralistic core of those men and women that run it have fear as an excuse to maintain that status quo. That fear is what might happen when people know, the fear of a society collapsing and fear of anarchy.

    What might happen is that we might just save the world. Show us leadership and direction and at least we can fight. Inspire us, and there is nothing to fear from us.

    Maintain the status quo, and you doom us all anyway.

    A part of me just refuses to believe they are doing nothing.

    1. I'm afraid it's a bit worse than that gov and corporate aren't at all taking action to stop Runaway.
      They are actively blocking an hiding the state of Earth's demise from the public and not only attacking on line activists who want science articles up for public view, like Aaron Swartz but taking free distribution networks off line or at least trying to like with Wikileaks. Those that try and get public aware of the extent of Corporate spying and interference like Darrell Brown are grabbed and isolated in jail like no tomorrow. And Russia is engaged in grabbing people. Edward Snowden, he has shed some light on extent of hidden powers.. Corporate power needs to be brought to heel and the entire world economy focused. Act of God alteration to business law can do that if it can be enticed by world shadow gov.
      Entropy rise is eternal in closed system but not in Open System Large thermodynamically speaking and price of gold has no bearing on restoring Earth to health at least as it presently stands with price-on-all things mentality of human economic system -but if that were altered so gold was a color of the spectrum in the minds of man, Then the Open Symbiotic relationship between Nature and humans would be restored.
      Entropy would not be locked into rising effectively driving Earth out of HZ barring physical state of acceleration of methane release from stability zone and other small details.
      But if we do this, alter the accounting of harms from the use of money, positive or negative

    2. Correction: Barrett Brown not Darrell Brown. That is who is in jail today for exposing size of corporate intelligence services in the US and their autonomy in cahoots with US government to defend bank and corporate interests.

  4. Why do I mistakenly assume this to be the most alarming & significant news story of human history? All you doomsayers out there: This is it. The end. Now you know its really happening right now. Just as I suspected. The doomsayers go quiet the moment someone starts proving them really right, that's its really happening in this particular way this time.

    1. Note that, while the Arctic-news blog often points at the imminent danger of climate catastrophe, the good news is that there are ways to reduce the risks, such as described at the Climate Plan blog.

  5. The only real solution is of course to get out of the fossil fue l age as quickly as possible
    However, the large scale artificial formation of marine snow might buy us some extra time