Showing posts with label methane. Show all posts
Showing posts with label methane. Show all posts

Thursday, January 21, 2021

The peril of high atmospheric methane levels

by Andrew Glikson

It is hard to think of a more Orwellian expression than that describing the increase in toxic atmospheric methane gas as “gas-led recovery.”

Several of the large mass extinctions of species in the geological past are attributed to an increase in atmospheric methane (CH₄), raising the temperature of the atmosphere and depriving the oceans from oxygen. Nowadays a serious danger to the atmosphere and for the life support systems ensues from the accelerated release of methane from melting Arctic permafrost, leaks from ocean sediments and from bogs, triggered by global warming. As if this was not dangerous enough, now methane is extracted as coal-seam-gas (CSG) by fracking (hydraulic fracturing) of coal and oil shale in the US, Canada, Australia and elsewhere.

Methane-bearing formations, located about 300m-1000m underground, are fracked using a mixture of water, sand, chemicals and explosives injected into the rock at high pressure, triggering significant amounts of methane leaks into the overlying formations and escaping into the atmosphere (Figure 1).

Figure 1. Schematic illustration of coal-seam-gas fracking (R. Morrison, by permission).

CSG is made primarily of about 95-97% methane, which possesses a radiative greenhouse potential close to X80 times that of carbon dioxide (CO₂). The radiative greenhouse effect of 1 kg methane is equivalent to releasing 84 kg of CO₂ and decreases to 20 and 34 times stronger than CO₂ over a 100-year period.

Global methane deposits (Figure 2) and Australian methane-bearing basins (Figure 3) are proliferating. Fugitive emissions from CSG are already enhancing the concentration of atmospheric methane above drill sites and range from 1 to 9 percent during the total life cycle emissions. The venting of methane from underground coal mines in the Hunter region of New South Wales has led to an atmospheric level in the region of 3,000 parts per billion, with methane levels of 2,000 ppb (parts per billion) extending to some 50 km away from the mines. Peak readings in excess of 3000 ppb represent an amalgamation of plumes from 17 sources. The median concentration within this section was 1820 ppb, with a peak reading of 2110 ppb. Compare this with mean methane values at Mouna Loa, Hawaii, of 1884 ppb.

Figure 2. Global gas hydrate potential regions.

Fugitive methane emissions from natural, urban, agricultural, and energy-production landscapes of eastern Australia. The chemical signature of methane released from fracking is found in the atmosphere points to shale gas operations as the source.


Figure 3. Australian basins, oil and gas resources.

The accumulation of many hundreds of billions tons of unoxidized methane-rich organic matter in Arctic permafrost, methane hydrates in shallow Arctic lakes and seas, bogs, and as emanated from cattle and sheep, has already enhanced global methane growth over the last 40 years at rates up to 14 ppb/year (Figure 4).


Figure 4. Growth of atmospheric methane, Mouna Loa, Hawaii,
between 1980-2020 and 2017-2020. NOAA.

The current methane level of 1884 ppb, ~2.5 times the <800 ppb level in 1840AD, indicating a mean growth rate of ~7 ppb/year (Figure 4), is attributable to in part to animal husbandry, permafrost melting, release from marine hydrates and bogs, and in part emissions from shale gas and fracking. as in the United States and Canada.

High levels of methane reduce the amount of oxygen breathed from the air, with health consequences. The toxicity of methane is corroborated in a 2018 study in Pennsylvania showing children born within a mile or two of a gas well were likely to be smaller and less healthy. New York State, Maryland, and Vermont have banned fracking, as have France and Germany.

According to Hansen (2018) reserves of unconventional gas exceed 10,000 GtC (billion tons carbon). Given the scale of methane hydrate deposits around the world (Figure 5), sufficient deposits exist to perpetrate a global mass extinction of species on a geological scale.¹ 

Figure 5. Estimates of methane held in hydrates worldwide. Estimates of the Methane Held in Hydrates Worldwide. Early estimates for marine hydrates (encompassed by the green region), made before hydrate had been recovered in the marine environment, are high because they assume gas hydrates exist in essentially all the world’s oceanic sediments. Subsequent estimates are lower, but remain widely scattered (encompassed by the blue region) because of continued uncertainty in the non-uniform, heterogeneous distribution of organic carbon from which the methane in hydrate is generated, as well as uncertainties in the efficiency with which that methane is produced and then captured in gas hydrate. Nonetheless, marine hydrates are expected to contain one to two orders of magnitude more methane than exists in natural gas reserves worldwide (brown square) (U.S. Energy Information Administration 2010). Continental hydrate mass estimates (encompassed by the pink region) tend to be about 1 per cent of the marine estimates.


¹ For 2.12 billion ton of carbon (GtC) raising atmospheric CO₂ by 1ppm, and assuming about 50% of CO₂ remaining in the atmosphere, future drilling and fracking could in principle raise atmospheric CO₂ level to about or more than 2000 ppm.


Andrew Glikson

Dr Andrew Glikson
Earth and Paleo-climate scientist
ANU Climate Science Institute
ANU Planetary Science Institute
Canberra, Australia



Books:
The Asteroid Impact Connection of Planetary Evolution
http://www.springer.com/gp/book/9789400763272
The Archaean: Geological and Geochemical Windows into the Early Earth
http://www.springer.com/gp/book/9783319079073
Climate, Fire and Human Evolution: The Deep Time Dimensions of the Anthropocene
http://www.springer.com/gp/book/9783319225111
The Plutocene: Blueprints for a Post-Anthropocene Greenhouse Earth
http://www.springer.com/gp/book/9783319572369
Evolution of the Atmosphere, Fire and the Anthropocene Climate Event Horizon
http://www.springer.com/gp/book/9789400773318
From Stars to Brains: Milestones in the Planetary Evolution of Life and Intelligence
https://www.springer.com/us/book/9783030106027
Asteroids Impacts, Crustal Evolution and Related Mineral Systems with Special Reference to Australia
http://www.springer.com/us/book/9783319745442




Monday, October 19, 2020

Earthquake hits Alaska October 19, 2020


An earthquake with a magnitude of 7.5 on the Richter scale hit Alaska (blue circle on map) on October 19, 2020 8:54 pm UTC.

The image shows a screenshot taken October 19, 2020 11:30 pm UTC featuring earthquakes over the past 7 days, with the M7.5 earthquake showing up in blue and the other earthquakes colored by age, i.e. hour (red), day (orange) and week (yellow). 

Such huge earthquakes can cause tsunamis.

In the Arctic, such huge earthquakes also come with the danger that they will destabilize methane hydrates at the seafloor which can cause huge amounts of methane to erupt. Shockwaves can travel along faults and cause eruptions at places far away from where the original eathquake occurred. 

Ominously, the MetOp-1 satellite recorded methane levels as high as 2618 ppb on the morning of October 22, 2020 at 586 mb. 


On the afternoon of October 23, 2020, the SNPP satellite recorded methane levels as high as 2735 ppb at 487.2 mb. 



The situation is dire and calls for immediate, comprehensive and effective action, as described in the Climate Plan.


Links

• USGS - M 7.5 - 91 km SE of Sand Point, Alaska - 2020-10-19 20:54:40 (UTC)
https://earthquake.usgs.gov/earthquakes/eventpage/us6000c9hg/executive

• USGS - Earthquakes map
https://earthquake.usgs.gov/earthquakes/map

• Seismic Events
https://arctic-news.blogspot.com/p/seismic-events.html

• Climate Plan
https://arctic-news.blogspot.com/p/climateplan.html

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Temperatures threaten to become unbearable

Many people could face unbearable temperatures soon. 

Temperature anomalies on land in the Northern Hemisphere (red) are spread out much wider and they are more than 0.5°C higher than global land+ocean anomalies (blue).


The pale green and grey trends are both long-term trends based on January 1880-August 2020 NOAA data. The short-term red and blue trends, based on January 2013-August 2020 NOAA data, are added to show the potential for a rapid rise. How could temperatures possibly rise this fast? 

A rapid temperature rise could eventuate by 2026 due to a number of contributing factors:
• crossing of the latent heat and methane tipping points
• moving toward an El Niño 
• entering solar cycle 25
• changes in aerosols
• feedbacks kicking in more strongly as further tipping points get crossed.

Crossing the Latent Heat and Methane Hydrate Tipping Points

The image below, updated from an earlier post, shows two such tipping points.


The August 2020 ocean temperature anomaly on the Northern Hemisphere was 1.13°C above the 20th century average. The image shows a trend based on January 1880-August 2020 NOAA data. The latent heat tipping point is estimated to be 1°C above the 20th century average. Crossing the latent heat tipping point threatens to cause the methane hydrates tipping point to be crossed, estimated to be 1.35°C above the 20th century average.

Keep in mind that above images show temperature anomalies from the 20th century average, which is NOAA's default baseline. As an earlier analysis points out, when using a 1750 baseline and when using ocean air temperatures and higher Arctic anomalies, we may have already crossed both the 1.5°C and the 2°C thresholds that politicians at the Paris Agreement pledged would not get crossed.

Natural Variability - El Niño and Solar Cycle

Currently, we are currently in a La Niña period, which suppresses air temperatures.

Only a thin layer of sea ice remained left in the Arctic, with extent almost as low as it was in 2012 around this time of year, as discussed in the previous post. As air temperatures dropped in September 2020, Arctic sea ice extent started to increase again about September 15, 2020. This made that a patch of sea ice remained present at the surface of the Arctic Ocean, despite the dramatic thinning of the sea ice. 

When an El Niño event returns, conditions will get worse. 


How long will it take before we'll reach the peak of the upcoming El Niño? NOAA says
El Niño and La Niña episodes typically last nine to 12 months, but some prolonged events may last for years. While their frequency can be quite irregular, El Niño and La Niña events occur on average every two to seven years. Typically, El Niño occurs more frequently than La Niña.
The temperature rise is strongest in the Arctic, as illustrated by the zonal mean temperature anomaly map below. The map has latitude on the vertical axis and shows anomalies as high as 4.83°C or 8.69°F in the Arctic. The North Pole is at the top of the map, at 90° North, the Equator is in the middle, at 0°, and the South Pole is at the bottom, at -90° South. And yes, NASA's default baseline is 1951-1980, so anomalies are even higher when using a 1750 baseline. 


So, what could make the difference next year is an upcoming El Niño. Solar irradiance is also on the rise, in line with the 11-year Solar Cycle.


Above image shows a NOAA graph depicting the current Solar Cycle (24) and the upcoming Solar Cycle (25). 

In 2019, Tiar Dani et al. analyzed a number of studies and forecasts pointing at the maximum in the upcoming Solar Cycle occurring in the year 2023 or 2024.

The analysis found some variation in intensity between forecasts, adding images including the one on the right, which is based on linear regression and suggests that the Solar Cycle 25 may be higher than the previous Solar Cycle 24. 

In 2012, Patrick (Pádraig) Malone analyzed factors critical in forecasting when an ice-free day in the Arctic sea first might occur. 

Patrick concluded that once solar activity moved out of the solar minimum, Arctic sea ice extent would start to crash. Accordingly, a Blue Ocean Event could occur as early as 2021, as illustrated by the image below.  


Further Tipping Points and Feedbacks

Further tipping points and feedbacks can start kicking in more strongly as one tipping point gets crossed. At least ten tipping points apply to the Arctic, as discussed in an earlier post and it looks like the latent heat tipping point has already been crossed. 

Ocean heat is very high in the North Atlantic and the North Pacific, and heat continues to enter the Arctic Ocean. 


Arctic sea surface temperatures and air temperature are now high since ocean heat, previously consumed by sea ice, is now coming to the surface where the sea ice has disappeared.

As above image shows, sea surface temperature anomalies in the Arctic Ocean on September 14, 2020, were as high as 9.3°C or 16.8°F (at the location marked by green circle), compared to the daily average during the years 1981-2011. 

These high sea surface temperature anomalies occur at locations where the daily average during the years 1981-2011 was around freezing point at this time of year.

Part of this ocean heat is rising into the atmosphere over the Arctic Ocean, resulting in high air temperatures that in turn prevent formation of sea ice thick enough to survive until the next melting season. The image on the right shows a forecast of Arctic air temperatures (2 m) that are 5°C higher than 1979-2000 (forecast for October 5, 2020, 18Z run Sep 26, 2020 06Z). 

Methane Danger is High


Ominously, peak methane levels of 2762 parts per billion (ppb) were recorded by the MetOp-1 satellite on the morning of September 20, 2020, at 586 milibar (mb), as above image shows.


Mean methane levels of 1925 ppb were recorded by the MetOp-1 satellite on the morning of September 20, 2020, at 293 mb, as above image shows.


Peak methane levels of 2813 ppb were recorded by the MetOp-1 satellite on the afternoon of September 30, 2020, at 469 mb, as above image shows. 


Methane has been rising most at higher altitudes over the past few years. On September 26, 2020 pm, the MetOp-1 satellite recorded a mean global methane level of 1929 ppb at 293 mb, which is equivalent to a height of 9.32 km or 30,57 ft, i.e. in the lower stratosphere over the North Pole (the top of the troposphere over the Equator is higher, at about 17 km).

Why methane is so important

As illustrated by the image on the right, from an earlier post, high methane levels could be reached within decades, and such a scenario could unfold even without sudden big bursts, but merely due to a continuation of a trend based on data up to 2014. This would obviously result in a huge rise in global temperature. 

A huge rise in global temperature would eventuate even earlier in case of a big burst of methane erupting from the seafloor of the Arctic Ocean. 

Methane's initial global warming potential (GWP) is very high. For the first few years after its release, methane is more than 150 times as strong as a greenhouse gas compared to carbon dioxide, as discussed in an earlier post.

How high are current methane levels? NOAA's May 2020 level for methane was 1874.7 ppb

Using a GWP of 150, this translates into 1.8747 x 150 = 281.205 ppm CO₂e. 

NOAA's figures are conservative, given that NOAA measures methane at marine surface level. 

Anyway, when using this conservative NOAA methane figure of 1874.7 ppb which at a GWP of 150 results in 281.205 ppm CO₂e, and when using an additional 413.6 ppm for recent carbon dioxide levels (NOAA's global May 2020 CO₂ level), these two add up to 694.805 ppm CO₂e, which is 505.195 CO₂e away from the cloud feedback tipping point (1200 CO₂e) that can, on its own, raise global temperatures instantly by 8°C. 

This is illustrated by the image on the right, an update from an earlier post

An additional eruption of methane from the Arctic Ocean into the atmosphere of 505.195 CO₂e translates into 505.195 / 150 = 3.368 ppm or 3368 ppb of methane. 

If the current amount of methane in the atmosphere is about 5 Gt, then 3368 ppb of methane corresponds with an amount of methane just under 9 Gt.

Coincidently, a peak level of 3369 ppb was recorded on August 31, 2018, pm. Granted, there is a large difference between a local peak level and a global mean level, but then again, a much smaller burst of methane can trigger the clouds feedback.

Even a relatively small burst of methane could trigger the clouds feedback, given that it will cause huge heating of the Arctic both directly and indirectly, in turn triggering further eruptions of methane from the seafloor of the Arctic Ocean.

Huge direct heating of the Arctic could occur due to methane's high immediate GWP and its even higher Local Warming Potential (LWP) given that the release takes place in the Arctic, while huge indirect heating of Arctic would occur due to the resulting decline of sea ice and of much of the permafrost on land.

Even a relatively small burst of methane could cause not only albedo losses but also releases of carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide and further fast feedbacks such as a rise in clouds and water vapor, especially over the Arctic Ocean, as illustrated by the image on the right, from the extinction page and an earlier post.

Importantly, the initial trigger to a huge temperature rise by 2026 could be an event that is typically categorized under natural variability, such as an El Niño, increased solar irradiance or a storm causing a sudden large influx of hot, salty water into the Arctic Ocean and causing an eruption of seafloor methane. Indeed, a seemingly small forcing can result in total collapse that takes place so rapidly that any political action will be too little, too late.

The video below illustrates the importance of the Precautionary Principle. The video shows how a seemingly small bump by a forklift causes all shelves in a warehouse to collapse. 


The situation is dire and calls for immediate, comprehensive and effective action, as described in the Climate Plan.


Links

• NOAA Global Climate Report - August 2020
https://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/sotc/global/202008

• Multivariate El Niño/Southern Oscillation (ENSO) Index Version 2 (MEI.v2)
https://psl.noaa.gov/enso/mei

• What are El Niño and La Niña?

• NOAA ISIS Solar Cycle Sunspot Number Progression

• Multiple regression analysis predicts Arctic sea ice - by Patrick Malone (Pádraig) Malone 
https://www.facebook.com/Amber.and.Patrick/posts/1140053003062976 

• Prediction of maximum amplitude of solar cycle 25 using machine learning - by Tiar Dani et al. 
https://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.1088/1742-6596/1231/1/012022

• NOAA - Trends in Artmospheric Methane 

• Trends in Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide - global

• When will we die?

• A rise of 18°C or 32.4°F by 2026?

• Most Important Message Ever

• Blue Ocean Event
https://arctic-news.blogspot.com/2018/09/blue-ocean-event.html

• Record Arctic Warming
https://arctic-news.blogspot.com/2016/04/record-arctic-warming.html

• Warning of mass extinction of species, including humans, within one decade



Tuesday, August 18, 2020

Methane Hydrates Tipping Point threatens to get crossed

The July 2020 ocean temperature anomaly on the Northern Hemisphere was 1.11°C or 2°F above the 20th century average, the highest July anomaly on record. The yellow circles onthe image below are July data and red circles are data for other months.

The July 2020 ocean temperature anomaly on the Northern Hemisphere was well above the latent heat tipping point of 1°C above the 20th century average, threatening to soon reach the methane hydrates tipping point of 1.35°C above the 20th century average.


These are only two of ten tipping points that are hitting the Arctic, as described in a earlier post, while additionally there are further tipping points that do not specifically hinge on what happens in the Arctic, e.g. the ozone layer is very vulnerable, as described in an earlier post.

The latent heat tipping point

An earlier analysis indicates that the latent heat tipping point gets crossed when ocean temperature anomalies on the Northern Hemisphere get higher than 1°C above the 20th century average. As above image indicates, the tipping point did get crossed temporarily on several occasions in recent years, but this year it looks to have been crossed irreversibly, as indicated by the trend.

[ Record low volume? ]
As the image on the right indicates, there still is sea ice present at the surface of the Arctic Ocean, so there still is sea ice in terms of volume. However, there now is virtually no ice left underneath the surface of the Arctic Ocean to act as a buffer.

In other words, the sea ice has virtually lost its capacity to act as a buffer to consume further heat entering the Arctic Ocean.

Once the latent heat tipping point is crossed, further incoming heat will have to get absorbed by the Arctic Ocean, instead of getting consumed by the melting of sea ice, as was previously the case.

As long as there is sea ice in the water, this sea ice will keep absorbing heat as it melts, so the temperature will not rise at the sea surface and remain at zero°C. The amount of energy that is consumed in the process of melting the ice is as much as it takes to heat an equivalent mass of water from zero°C to 80°C.


Ocean Heat

Meanwhile, global heating continues and more than 90% of global heating is going into oceans.


Arctic sea ice is getting very thin and, at this time of year, it is melting rapidly, due to heat entering the Arctic Ocean from above, from the Atlantic Ocean and the Pacific Ocean, and from rivers that end in the Arctic Ocean.

The two images below shows the difference in sea surface temperatures of the Arctic Ocean, between August 4, 2020, 12 GMT and a forecast for August 22, 2020, 12 GMT. The important difference between the two images is the shrinking of the pale blue area in the Arctic Ocean, where the sea surface temperature is below 0°C, and the increase in areas with other tints of blue where the sea surface temperature is above 0°C.


The image below, from a recent post, shows ocean surface temperatures on August 10, 2020, with very high anomalies showing up where the sea ice has disappeared. The image also shows that the Arctic Ocean in many places is very shallow (right panel).

[ from earlier post ]

The dramatic decline of the sea ice becomes more clear when looking at Arctic sea ice volume. The image below, by Nico Sun, shows volume up to August 31, 2020.


The dramatic decline of the sea ice is even more evident when looking at Arctic sea ice thickness. The image below, by Nico Sun, shows thickness up to August 31, 2020.


Below is a Universität Bremen image showing Arctic sea ice thickness on August 29, 2020.


The navy.mil animation below was run on September 15, 2020, and shows Arctic sea ice thickness over 30 days (last 8 frames are forecasts for September 16 - September 23, 2020).


The image below shows a forecast for September 15, run September 14, 2020. 



The image below shows that, on August 30, 2020, the mean air temperature in the Arctic (80°N to 90°N) was still above the freshwater freezing point (0°C or 32°F or 273.15°K), well above the mean temperature for 1958-2002 and also above the year 2012 which had exceptionally high temperatures in September.


As long as the air temperature remains above the freshwater freezing point, the sea ice will keep melting from above, on top of the melting that occurs from below as a result of ocean heat entering the Arctic Ocean from the Atlantic Ocean and the Pacific Ocean.


Above ads.nipr.ac.jp image shows sea ice in 2020 (red line) still shrinking in extent. Arctic sea ice on September 13, 2020, was 3.55 million km², i.e. well below extent for that date in any other year except for 2012, when extent was as low as 3.18 million km² (on September 15 and 16, 2012). 

According to NSIDC, sea ice extent on September 15, 2020, was 3.737 million km², while extent on September 17, 2012, was 3.387 million km².


The image below, updated by the University of Bremen September 10, 2020, shows Arctic sea ice extent perilously close to 2012 extent. Note that the University of Bremen has meanwhile "reprocessed the data".


On the Northern Hemisphere, ocean temperatures are very high at the moment. The image below illustrates that, showing sea surface temperatures as high as 33.8°C on August 26, 2020. For some time to come, water flowing into the Arctic Ocean from the Atlantic Ocean and the Pacific Ocean will therefore remain higher than it used to be.


River water flowing into the Arctic Ocean also contributes to rising temperatures of the water of the Arctic Ocean.

Furthermore, there are numerous feedbacks, e.g. when black carbon from forest fires settles on sea ice, this causes albedo changes in a self-reinforcing feedback loop, i.e. as less sunlicht gets reflected back up into the sky, more sunlight will be absorbed by the sea ice, speeding up its decline.

As confirmed by a recent study, dramatic abrupt climate change is taking place in the Arctic, and another dangerous feedback of the rising heat is stronger storms, as also discussed in an earlier post.


Stronger storms can bring more moisture into the Arctic. Above image shows a forecast for August 29, 2020, 1200Z, with two cyclones hitting the Arctic Ocean and with 100% relative humidity at the North Pole, at 1000 hPa.


Above image shows a cyclone, forecast for August 25, 2020, with wind north of Greenland as fast as 67 km/h or 41 mph.


Above image shows that rain is forecast to fall over the North Pole on August 26, 202, 12Z.

The image on the right is a forecast for August 26, 2020, 21Z. The image shows strong wind over the North Atlantic, while another cyclone is showing up north of Greenland.

Sea ice is very thin at the moment, so it is vulnerable to get broken up into small small pieces, thus speeding up its melting, as warm water can more easily reach the broken-up pieces from all sides.

Such storms can batter the sea ice, and they can come with rain, further devastating the sea ice by speeding up melting and creating melt-pools on top of the ice with a low albedo.

The image on the right shows a forecast for August 29, 2020. Rain is showing up north of Greenland, as another cyclone is forecast to hit the area. The cyclone is forecast to have strong winds spinning counter-clockwise, thus threatening to speed up the drift of the sea ice north of Greenland toward Fram Strait.

A sequence of cyclones could in a short time push much of the thickest of the remaining sea ice out of the Arctic Ocean through Fram Strait.

The methane hydrates tipping point

As discussed in earlier posts such as this one, the rising temperature of the Arctic Ocean threatens to destabilize methane hydrates contained in sediments at the seafloor of the Arctic Ocean.

As the top image shows, the methane hydrates tipping point could be crossed soon, as the Arctic Ocean is heating up dramatically, which is in part the result of the latent heat tipping point getting crossed, which makes that the temperature of the Arctic Ocean can rise very rapidly.

The methane hydrates tipping point threatens to get crossed as ocean temperature anomalies on the Northern Hemisphere become higher than 1.35°C above the 20th century average, which threatens to occur early next year.

Because the Arctic Ocean in many places is very shallow, heat can quickly reach sediments at the seafloor, which threatens to destabilize methane hydrates. The water of the Arctic Ocean is particularly shallow over the East Siberian Arctic Shelf (ESAS), making that the water there can warm up very quickly during summer heat peaks with heat reaching the seafloor and penetrating cracks in frozen sediments at the seafloor, which can lead to abrupt destabilization of methane hydrates contained in these sediments.

As discussed in an earlier post, the loss of subsurface sea ice is only one of ten tipping points hitting the Arctic. As the temperature of the oceans keeps rising, more heat will reach sediments at the seafloor of the Arctic Ocean that contain vast amounts of methane, as discussed in this page and this post.


Large abrupt methane releases in one spot will quickly deplete the oxygen in shallow waters, making it harder for microbes to break down the methane there, while methane that is rising through waters that are only shallow will also be able to enter the atmosphere very quickly, leaving little time for microbes to break down the methane.

As illustrated by the 2012 image on the right, a large abrupt release of methane from hydrates in the Arctic can have more warming impact than all carbon dioxide emitted by burning of fossil fuel in a year. This is due to the high global warming potential (GWP) of methane following its release.

As this heating is concentrated in the Arctic, it will contribute to further methane releases from hydrates in the Arctic, in another self-reinforcing feedback loop.

The situation is extremely dangerous, given the vast amounts of methane present in sediments in the ESAS and given that there is very little hydroxyl in the air over the Arctic to break down the methane.

[ from earlier post ]

Ominously, the MetOp-1 satellite recorded a peak methane level of 2945 parts per billion (ppb), at 586 mb on the afternoon of August 18, 2020.


Two days later, the MetOp-1 satellite recorded a peak methane level of 2778 ppb, at 469 mb on the afternoon of August 20, 2020, while mean methane levels reached 1907 ppb.


That afternoon, on August 20, 2020, the MetOp-1 satellite recorded an even higher methane level, of 1923 ppb, at 293 mb, i.e. higher up in the atmosphere.


The danger is further illustrated by the image below, posted in February 2019 and showing a potential rise of 18°C or 32.4°F from 1750 by the year 2026.


Indeed, a rise of 18°C could eventuate by 2026, as illustrated by the image below and as discussed in an earlier post.


The situation is dire and calls for immediate, comprehensive and effective action, as described in the Climate Plan.


Links

• NOAA Global Climate Report - July 2020
https://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/sotc/global/202007

• Danish Meteorological Institute - 5 Day Ocean Forecast - Universal (Greenwich) Time
http://ocean.dmi.dk/anim/index.uk.php

• Danish Meteorological Institute - sea ice thickness and volume
http://polarportal.dk/en/sea-ice-and-icebergs/sea-ice-thickness-and-volume

• Danish Meteorological Institute - Arctic temperature
http://ocean.dmi.dk/arctic/meant80n.uk.php

• Danish Meteorological Institute - Arctic sea ice extent
http://ocean.dmi.dk/arctic/icecover.uk.php

• NOAA ocean heat content
https://www.nodc.noaa.gov/OC5/3M_HEAT_CONTENT/index.html

• MetOp satellite - methane
https://www.ospo.noaa.gov/Products/atmosphere/soundings/iasi

• Arctic sea ice - thickness - navy.mil
https://www7320.nrlssc.navy.mil/GLBhycomcice1-12/arctic.html

• Arctic sea ice - thickness - Universität Bremen
https://seaice.uni-bremen.de/databrowser

• Climate reanalyzer - precipitation, wind and pressure forecasts
https://climatereanalyzer.org/wx/fcst/?mdl_id=gfs&dm_id=world-ced&wm_id=prcp-mslp-gph500

• New release: Arctic warming satisfies criteria for abrupt climate change https://www.bjerknes.uib.no/en/article/news/arctic-warming-satisfies-criteria-abrupt-climate-change

• Past perspectives on the present era of abrupt Arctic climate change - by Eystein Jansen et al. https://www.nature.com/articles/s41558-020-0860-7

• Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service
https://atmosphere.copernicus.eu/charts/cams

• Arctic sea ice extent - NSIDC
http://nsidc.org/arcticseaicenews/charctic-interactive-sea-ice-graph

• Arctic sea ice extent - Vishop, Arctic Data archive System, National Institute of Polar Research, Japan
https://ads.nipr.ac.jp/vishop/#/extent

• Arctic sea ice extent - University of Bremen 
https://seaice.uni-bremen.de/data/amsr2/today/extent_n_running_mean_amsr2_previous.png

• North Hole 2020?
https://arctic-news.blogspot.com/2020/08/north-hole-2020.html

• Arctic Hit By Ten Tipping Points
https://arctic-news.blogspot.com/2020/04/arctic-hit-by-ten-tipping-points.html

• Why stronger winds over the North Atlantic are so dangerous
https://arctic-news.blogspot.com/2020/02/why-stronger-winds-over-north-atlantic-are-so-dangerous.html

• Very High Greenhouse Gas Levels
https://arctic-news.blogspot.com/2020/05/very-high-greenhouse-gas-levels.html

• Critical Tipping Point Crossed In July 2019
https://arctic-news.blogspot.com/2019/09/critical-tipping-point-crossed-in-july-2019.html

• Fast Path to Extinction
https://arctic-news.blogspot.com/2020/06/fast-path-to-extinction.html

• Crossing the Paris Agreement thresholds
https://arctic-news.blogspot.com/p/crossing.html

• 2°C crossed
https://arctic-news.blogspot.com/2020/03/2c-crossed.html

• Why America should lead on climate
https://arctic-news.blogspot.com/2016/01/why-america-should-lead-on-climate.html

• Methane's Role in Arctic Warming
https://arctic-news.blogspot.com/2016/02/methanes-role-in-arctic-warming.html

• The Threat
https://arctic-news.blogspot.com/p/threat.html

• When will we die?
https://arctic-news.blogspot.com/2019/06/when-will-we-die.html

• A rise of 18°C or 32.4°F by 2026?
https://arctic-news.blogspot.com/2019/02/a-rise-of-18c-or-324f-by-2026.html

• Most Important Message Ever
https://arctic-news.blogspot.com/2019/07/most-important-message-ever.html

• Climate Plan
https://arctic-news.blogspot.com/p/climateplan.html