Friday, March 27, 2015

Methane Levels Early 2015

The image below shows highest mean methane readings on one day, i.e. March 10, compared between three years, i.e. 2013, 2014 and 2015, at selected altitudes. The comparison indicates that the increase of methane in the atmosphere is accelerating, especially at higher altitudes.

The table below shows the altitude equivalents in mb (millibar) and feet.
This rise in global mean methane levels appears to go hand in hand with much higher peak readings, especially at higher altitudes.

From January 1 to March 20, 2015, methane levels reached levels as high as 2619 ppb (on January 12, 2015), while peak daily levels averaged 2373 parts per billion (ppb). At the start of the year, global mean methane levels typically reach their lowest point, while highest mean levels are typically reached in September. Highest daily global mean methane levels for the period from January 1, 2015, to March 20, 2015, ranged from 1807 ppb (January 6, 2015) to 1827 ppb (March 5, 2015).

Further study of the locations with high methane levels indicates that much of the additional methane appears to originate from releases at higher latitudes of the Northern Hemisphere, in particular from the Arctic Ocean, from where it is over time descending toward the equator (methane will typically move closer to the equator over time as it rises in altitude, as discussed in this earlier post).

The largest source of additional methane appears to be emissions from the seabed of the Arctic Ocean. Annual emissions from hydrates were estimated to amount to 99 Tg annually in a 2014  post (image below).

The image below, based on data from the IPCC and the World Metereological Organization (WMO), with an added observation from a NOAA MetOp satellite image, illustrates the recent rise of methane levels and the threat that methane levels will continue to rise rapidly.

What causes these methane eruptions?

Methane eruptions from the seafloor of the Arctic Ocean appear to be primarily caused by rising ocean heat that is carried by the Gulf Stream into the Arctic Ocean. The image below shows sea surface temperatures of 20.9°C (69.62°F, green circle left) recorded off the coast of North America on March 14, 2015, an anomaly of 12.3°C (36.54°F).

[ click on image to enlarge ]
Furthermore, both methane eruptions from the Arctic Ocean seafloor and demise of the Arctic sea ice and snow cover are feedbacks that can interact and amplify each other in non-linear ways, resulting in rapid and intense temperature rises, as illustrated by the image below.

Diagram of Doom - for more background, see Feedbacks
How high could temperatures rise?

Worryingly, a non-linear trend is also contained in the temperature data that NASA has gathered over the years, as described in an earlier post. A polynomial trendline points at global temperature anomalies of over 4°C by 2060. Even worse, a polynomial trend for the Arctic shows temperature anomalies of over 4°C by 2020, 6°C by 2030 and 15°C by 2050, threatening to cause major feedbacks to kick in, including albedo changes and methane releases that will trigger runaway global warming that looks set to eventually catch up with accelerated warming in the Arctic and result in global temperature anomalies of 16°C by 2052.

[ click on image to enlarge ]

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


  1. Thank you Sam!
    I made a quick linear calculation last night...
    When we reach the 2°C Global average mark fixed by the IPCC, and I have no doubt we will, will this mean the Arctic, which is already at +5°C from base line will be at +10°C, and will the Antarctic also double from +3°C to +6°C? Roughly speaking....
    Or might the Poles double even faster?
    Is anyone working on these assumptions? Or is there already an estimate?

  2. I've been wondering if a days soundings images can be stacked to produce a 3-D image of what these emissions would look like if it was visible to the eye?
    I know astronomers have software that allows them to stack star images but that's just a 2D image, the software would need to be able to morph the image data from one image to the next one above it & below with a space between each layer.
    The end result would be a visible 3-D image of C02/CH4 concentrations in the atmosphere by altitude & location on the map. Do it in COLOR!

    Then have some programmer add a flying object we can control & view the landscape through.
    Wouldn't something like that be uber COOL!

    One could also use the images to produce a movie moving from the lowest to the highest mb image & back up again. That would sort of simulate a 3D view.

  3. How will we ever know when we will go over the edge into a sudden total blowout of a whole area or region? I"d say being able to know that would be the holy grail of abrupt climate change. Or, are the deniers right & the alarmists wrong that abrupt area blowouts are just impossible?

    1. Besides satellite readings, there are readings from submarine vessels, ships, buoys, terrestrial stations, balloons and aircraft. Checking satellite readings, such as the MetOp satellites in above post, is one of the best ways to monitor things. Of course, by the time a major release shows up, it's rather late to respond.

  4. Hello Sam
    You know how much I wanted to get climate change in the news.
    I tried again last night by e-mailing a rather large newspaper in this province, and I got a reply!!!
    I was offered to either write a letter to be published or to get interviewed. I'll be going with the interview if I can work it out. I prefer having a pro journalist that won't let me go out of bounds with my own wording and ask me questions I might not have think of...
    Took me a while, but I opened a door.
    Had to share the news with you :-)
    Have a nice day. I'll keep you posted on the developments.

  5. CO2e question.
    CO2e takes in account all the greenhouse gases.
    The formula is here:
    And it doesn't seem to take in account that high forcing new gas that's been discovered...
    2012 numbers from Wikipedia says we were at 508ppm CO2e in 2012
    Can anyone here _please_ calculate where we currently are at with CO2e?

    1. At a 10-year timescale, the current global release of methane from all anthropogenic sources exceeds all anthropogenic carbon dioxide emissions as agents of global warming. So, that will give carbon dioxide and methane a joint CO2e of well over 800 ppm, To incorporate further emissions, see image at from

    2. CO2e should generally remain to have time of 100 years associated to it but people should understand strength of Methane release to force abrupt climate change is on ice egg shells..
      The form of Clathrate water ice lattice foam is like packed with ecological exciting end ahead and mankind better wake up to a need to correct framework in which to make Act of God Real

    3. Thank you very much Sam. As you know, I'm still learning and hopefully, I'll keep on learning from you for a long while.
      About 2 or 3 weeks ago, I heard a well renown scientist claim we were at 450ppm pf CO2e, that's when I learned that expression.
      I had a hunch this week to check it out because my intuition told me it should be higher than 450 mainly because of what I learned here so far.
      On the active side, I want to form a little to translate and publish videos and articles. I'd be doing the translation and would leave it to other people to do the editing and I'd publish on my you tube channel, or perhaps a new one I'd create as well as a blog.
      If it's ok with you, I'd like to have your permission to use/translate some of your stuff as well.
      Have a nice day

    4. Thanks Randomjack. Yeah, that should be fine, adding references to the respective posts would be appreciated. I look forward to see your work.

    5. Of course I will reference you, Don't be in a rush to see them, I'm having frequent slowdowns.
      I would not translate and publish anything without a previous approval from the author(s).
      Thank you and
      _Have a nice day_