Images by Sam Carana from the Methane page at

1. Methane, Faults and Sea Ice

Massive amounts of methane venting from the seabed, penetrating the sea ice, and entering the atmosphere over the Arctic Ocean. Faultlines indicate a further danger, i.e that earthquakes could trigger clathrate destabilization.

For an animated version of this image, go to the post Methane, Faults and Sea Ice

Image #1. from:
Methane, Faults and Sea Ice

2. Biggest Story of 2013 (Methane over Arctic Ocean)

The 'Biggest Story of 2013' image shows cumulative methane for the period December 26, 2013, 11:00 am to December 29, 2013, 11:05 pm.

Biggest story of 2013: Huge methane releases from the seafloor of the Arctic Ocean
Image #2. from:
The Biggest Story of 2013
facebook link:

3. Methane bubbling up in Baffin Bay

Huge amounts of methane can be carried out of the Arctic Ocean by the exit current through Baffin Bay.

Methane bubbling up in Baffin Bay
Image #3. from:
Methane emerges from warmer areas
facebook link:

4. Methane emissions estimates

Sam Carana in 2014: "The amounts of methane being released from hydrates will be greater than the methane that actually reaches the atmosphere. To put a figure on the latter, my estimate is that emissions from hydrates and permafrost currently amount to 100 Tg annually, a figure that is growing rapidly. This 100 Tg includes 1 Tg for permafrost, similar to IPCC estimates."

Image #4. from:
High methane levels over the Arctic Ocean on January 14, 2014

5. Potential Release

5.a Potential Release: How much methane could be released, say, within a few years

Image #5.a from:
Edge of Extinction
and from:

5.b Potential Release: Methane by Numbers

Sediments underneath the Arctic Ocean hold vast amounts of methane. Just one part of the Arctic Ocean alone, the East Siberian Arctic Shelf (ESAS, rectangle on map below), holds up to 1700 Gt of methane. A sudden release of just 3% of this amount could add over 50 Gt of methane to the atmosphere, and experts consider such an amount to be ready for release at any time (see above image).

Total methane burden in the atmosphere now is 5 Gt. The 3 Gt that has been added since the 1750s accounts for almost half of the (net) total global warming caused by people. The amount of carbon stored in hydrates globally was in 1992 estimated to be 10,000 Gt (USGS), while a more recent estimate gives a figure of 63,400 Gt (Klauda & Sandler, 2005). The ESAS alone holds up to 1700 Gt of methane in the form of methane hydrates and free gas contained in sediments, of which 50 Gt is ready for abrupt release at any time.

Imagine what kind of devastation an extra 50 Gt of methane could cause. Imagine the warming that will take place if the methane in the atmosphere was suddenly multiplied by 11. Gail Whiteman, Chris Hope and Peter Wadhams in 2013 calculated that such an event would cause $60 trillion in damage, assing that, by comparison, the size of the world economy in 2012 was about $70 trillion.

Image #5.b from:
The time has come to spread the message

5.c Potential Release: ESAS (East Siberian Arctic Shelf) 

A more detailed image of the above inset is below.

Image #5.c was created with content from a recent paper by Natalia Shakhova et al.
The image was part of the post:
When will we die?

6. Historic Methane Levels

6.a Historic Methane Levels - The Methane Hockeystick

Over the past 420,000 years, temperatures typically moved up and down by roughly 10°C or 18°F between glacial and interglacial phases, suggesting that a 100 ppm rise of carbon dioxide and 300 ppb rise of methane go hand in hand with a 10°C temperature rise. By implication, current levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere appear to have us locked in for a future temperature rise of more 10°C. When looking at methane, the equation appears to be even worse, both regarding the size of the temperature rise and regarding the timescale over which this could eventuate.

Vostok ice core data for CO2 are in this graph
the data have been available since 2003, e.g. at

Image #6.a from:
Mean methane levels reach 1800 ppb

6.b Historic Methane Levels - The Methane Hockeystick

As the updated image below illustrates, a 10°C temperature rise from 1750 is in line with the high level of forcing that is caused by the rapid rise in the levels of greenhouse gases recently.

Carbon dioxide levels have been above 400 ppm for years. Methane levels above 1900 ppb were recorded in September 2018. Such high levels are more in line with a 10°C higher temperature, as illustrated by the above graph based on 420,000 years of ice core data from Vostok, Antarctica, research station.

Image #6.b is from:
What Does Runaway Warming Look Like?

6.c Historic Methane Levels - Historic rise of methane, carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide

While carbon dioxide emissions get a lot of attention (and they definitely must be cut rapidly and dramatically), the rise of methane is possibly even more worrying. The image below shows the historic rise (1750-2015) of methane (CH4), carbon dioxide (CO₂) and nitrous oxide (N2O).
Historic rise of methane, carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide
According to NOAA data, annual mean global methane grew from 2004-2013 by an average of 3.75 ppb per year. In 2014, the growth rate was 12.56 ppb. In 2015, the growth rate was 10.14 ppb. According to the WMO, methane's 2014–2015 absolute increase was 11 ppb.
(Also see above image #16: Methane's Rise since 2000)

Image #6.c is from:
Monthly CO₂ not under 400 ppm in 2016

6.d Historic Methane Levels - Historic rise of methane, carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide

Below is an updated version of above image, showing that CO₂, CH₄ and N₂O levels in the atmosphere in 2018 were, respectively, 259%, 147% and 123% of their pre-industrial (before 1750) levels.

Image #6.d is from:
Arctic Ocean November 2019

Discussion at:

7. Methane's Global Warming Potential (GWP) and Lifetime

7.a Methane's GWP (Global Warming Potential) or GHP (Global Heating Potential)

Measured over a few years, methane's global warming potential (GWP) is very high.

The image on the right, from IPCC AR5, shows that, over 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; that is, methane emissions are more important than carbon dioxide emissions for driving the current rate of global warming.

And unlike carbon dioxide, methane's GWP does rise as more of it is released.

From the FAQ page:
Frequently Asked Questions

Also discussed at:

7.b Methane's GWP (Global Warming Potential) or GHP (Global Heating Potential), 2019

The values for methane's GWP that are used in above bar chart are also used in the graph below, showing that, over the first few years after release, methane has a GWP of more than 150 times that of carbon dioxide.

Above graph is based on low IPCC AR5 figures. The figures are low as they don't apply to fossil methane and don't include climate change feedbacks, while there also is additional warming due to the carbon dioxide that results from methane's oxidation. Moreover, research published in 2016 and 2018 concludes that methane is more potent than the IPCC described in AR5.

Image #7.b is from:
Most Important Message Ever

Discussion at:

7.c Methane's GWP (Global Warming Potential) or GHP (Global Heating Potential), 2019

The top panels of the image below show figures used in IPCC AR5 (2013) for methane's lifetime and for methane's Global Warming Potential (GWP) over 10, 20 and 100 years.

IPCC AR5 gives methane a lifetime of 12.4 years. IPCC AR5 gives methane a GWP ranging from 84 to 87 for a 20-year horizon, and a GWP ranging from 28 to 36 for a 100-year horizon. The IPCC also depicts methane's GWP over 10 years. Methane is given a GWP over 10 years of 130, in line with a 2012 analysis by Sam Carana (image #7.d).

The other chart in above image shows that people's net emissions of carbon dioxide (CO₂), methane (CH₄) and nitrous oxide (N₂O) from agriculture, forestry, and other land use were 23% of people's 2007-2016 emissions when using a Global Warming Potential (GWP) for methane of 28 (from IPCC special report Climate Change and Land), and they were 31% of people's 2007-2016 emissions when using a more appropriate GWP for methane of 150.

Image #7.c is discussed at:
IPCC Report Climate Change and Land

Discussion at:

7.d Methane's GWP (Global Warming Potential) or GHP (Global Heating Potential), 2012

Methane's Global Warming Potential

A 2009 study by Shindell et al. points out that, when including direct and indirect effects, methane's GWP is 105 over 20 years.

The study also concludes that methane's GWP would likely be further increased when including ecosystem responses.

A short horizon is also most appropriate in the context of tipping points, such as accelerating methane releases from the seafloor of the Arctic Ocean.

Given the rapidity at which the biosphere is deteriorating, given the accelerating pace at which extreme weather events are striking the land all around the world, and given the grim prospects for people worldwide in the absence of rapid and radical change, it makes sense to focus on a short time horizon, i.e. as short as a few years, rather than decades.

In a 2012 analysis, Sam Carana shows that, based on figures by Shindell et al., methane's GWP is 130 times that of carbon dioxide over a period of 10 years. 

In the image, the blue line is based on IPCC AR4 (2007) figures. The red line is based on figures from the study by Shindell et al.

Image #7.d from:
Methane hydrates

8. Methane's Local Warming Potential (LWP) or Local Heating Potential (LHP)

Even more important than methane's high immediate GWP is methane's local warming potential (LWP), which includes the indirect effect of triggering further releases. In case of a large abrupt release, methane's lifetime will be extended, due to hydroxyl depletion. Much of the methane can be expected to persist locally for decades, at its highest LWP, since there's very little hydroxyl in the atmosphere above the Arctic in the first place, so very little methane will get oxidized there. The impact of such an abrupt release will be felt most strongly in the Arctic, where the release took place. Since it will take time for methane to spread away from the Arctic, much of the entire release will remain concentrated above the Arctic.

The additional warming that this will cause in the Arctic will make the sea ice decline even more dramatically than is already the case now. The combined LWP of snow cover loss, sea ice loss and methane releases in the Arctic is huge. This is bound to trigger further releases of methane in the Arctic, and their joint impact will accumulate, as illustrated in the next image.

Image #8. from:
Methane hydrates

9. The Threat of Runaway Global Warming

9.a The Threat of Runaway Global Warming (Methane Releases)

Even small releases of methane from the seafloor of the Arctic Ocean are very dangerous; their explosive eruption from the seafloor and their huge local warming impact threatens to further destabilize sediments under the Arctic Ocean and trigger further methane releases.

Image #9.a from:
High methane levels over the Arctic Ocean on January 14, 2014

and also used at the page:
How much time is there left to act?

9.b The Threat of Runaway Global Warming (Temperature Rise and Deaths)

With continued warming of the Arctic Ocean, heat increasingly threatens to reach the seafloor of the Arctic Ocean and unleash huge methane eruptions from destabilizing clathrates. The threat is that runaway warming will strike first in the Arctic, to spread from there, causing heatwaves and firestorms across North America and Siberia, while adding massive amounts more methane, soot and carbon dioxide to the atmosphere globally, as forests, peat bogs and tundras at higher latitudes burn, with the threat of escalating into runaway global warming, causing huge temperature swings and extreme weather events, and contributing to increasing depletion of fresh water and food supply.

Image #9.b from:
How many death could result from failure to act on climate change?

10. Methane's Rise

10.a Methane's Rise (1984 - 2015)

This image shows the rise of methane levels from 1984, created with World Metereological Organization (WMO) data up to 2014. The square marks a high mean 2015 level, from NOAA's MetOp-2 satellite images, and it is added for comparison, so it does not influence the trendline, yet it does illustrate the direction of rise of methane levels and the threat that global mean methane levels will double well before the year 2040.

Image #10.a from:
Ocean Heat

10.b Methane's Rise (2000 - 2015)

Growth in methane levels has been accelerating recently. Contained in existing data is a trend indicating that methane levels could increase by a third by 2030 and could almost double by 2040. Unlike carbon dioxide, methane's GWP does rise as more of it is released. Methane's lifetime can be extended to decades, in particular due to depletion of hydroxyl in the atmosphere.

Image #10.b from:
Less sea ice, warmer Arctic Ocean

11. Methane levels are rising most strongly over Arctic (maps 2009 - 2013)

Image #11 from:
Dramatic increase in methane in the Arctic in January 2013

12. Methane rise at higher altitudes

12.a Methane rise at higher altitudes (April 22 version)

The image below compares mean methane levels on the morning of April 22 between the years 2013 to 2017, confirming that methane levels are rising most strongly at higher altitudes, say between 6 to 17 km (which is where the Troposphere ends at the Equator), as compared to altitudes closer to sea level. This strong rise at higher altitudes may not be as noticeable when taking samples from ground stations. This was discussed in earlier posts such as in this post, in this post and in this post.

57016 feet44690 feet36850 feet30570 feet25544 feet19820 feet14385 feet 8368 feet1916 feet
17378 m13621 m11232 m 9318 m 7786 m 6041 m 4384 m 2551 m 584 m
 74 mb 147 mb 218 mb 293 mb 367 mb 469 mb 586 mb 742 mb 945 mb

Above conversion table shows the altitude equivalents in feet, m and mb.

Image #12.a from:
10°C or 18°F warmer by 2021?

12.b Methane rise at higher altitudes (numerous altitudes)

The image below shows that on September 14, 2016, methane levels at 367 mb were as high as 2697 ppb and global mean methane level was as high as 1865 ppb.

Image #12.b from:
Arctic Sea Ice September 2016 - Update

12.c Methane rise at higher altitudes (numerous altitudes)

The image below shows that on September 30, 2019, pm, the MetOp-1 satellite recorded mean methane levels at 293 mb as high as 1914 ppb.

Image #12.c from:
Could Humans Go Extinct Within Years?

13. Cartoons

13.a and 13.b Arctic Methane Monster Cartoons

People seem to want it  -  IPCC keeps downplaying Arctic methane threat
Images #13.a and #13.b from:
Arctic Methane Monster

13.c Do NOT tell them the monster exists!

Do NOT tell them the monster exists
Image #13.c from:
Just do NOT tell them the monster exists

13.d Attaboy (August 2019)

[ click on image to enlarge ]
Image #13.d from:
IPCC Report Climate Change and Land

13.e Attaboy (August 2019)

The threat of large methane eruptions from the seafloor of the Arctic Ocean and how the IPCC chooses to inform people about this threat.

Image #13.e from:
IPCC Report Ocean and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate
discussion at:

14. The buffer has gone

The danger is that, as Arctic sea ice continues to decline, more heat will reach the seafloor and will destabilize methane hydrates contained in sediments at the bottom of the Arctic Ocean, resulting in huge methane eruptions.
The Buffer has gone, feedback #14 on the Feedbacks page

Image #14 from:
September 2015 Sea Surface Warmest On Record

and from:

Discussion at:

15.a Ominous warnings (high peak methane levels)

Ominously, methane levels as high as 2961 parts per billion were recorded by the MetOp-2 satellite on October 24, 2019, in the afternoon at 469 mb.

Image #15.a from the post:
Arctic Ocean October 2019

Discussion at:

15.b Ominous warnings (high mean methane levels)

Ominously, the MetOp-1 satellite recorded a mean global methane level as high as 1914 parts per billion, on September 30, 2019, pm at 293 mb.

Image #15.b from the post:
IPCC Report Ocean and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate

Discussion at:

1 comment:

  1. The Climate Plan calls for comprehensive action through multiple lines of action implemented across the world and in parallel, through effective policies such as local feebates. The Climate Plan calls for a global commitment to act, combined with implementation that is preferably local. In other words, while the Climate Plan calls for a global commitment to take comprehensive and effective action to reduce the danger of catastrophic climate change, and while it recommends specific policies and approaches how best to achieve this, it invites local communities to decide what each works best for them, provided they do indeed make the progress necessary to reach agreed targets. This makes that the Climate Plan optimizes flexibility for local communities and optimizes local job and investment opportunities.

    Click for more on multiple lines of action, on recommended policies, and on the advantages of feebates.