Showing posts with label release. Show all posts
Showing posts with label release. Show all posts

Monday, August 4, 2014

Warm waters threaten to trigger huge methane eruptions from Arctic Ocean seafloor

The evidence of abrupt high methane releases in the Arctic Ocean is accumulating. The graph below shows in situ methane measurements taken at the Barrow Observatory, including recent levels as high as close to 2200 parts per billion (ppb).

Satellite data picture a similarly dire situation. Global mean methane levels as high as 1831 ppb were recorded on the morning of July 30, 2014, while peak methane levels as high as 2330 ppb were recorded that morning. More recently, peak methane levels as high as 2522 ppb were recorded (on August 2, 2014).

IPCC/NOAA figures suggest that methane levels were rising by some 5 to 6 ppb annually, reaching 1814 ppb in 2013. While methane levels at lower altitudes have indeed shown little rise, much larger rises have been recorded at higher altitudes, as illustrated by the image below.

These high methane levels recorded at higher altitudes appear to be caused by the huge quantities of methane released from the seafloor of the Arctic Ocean during the period from end 2013 to early 2014. This methane has meanwhile risen to higher altitudes, while also descending to lower latitudes, wreaking havoc on weather patterns around latitude 60° North.

The releases of methane from the seafloor of the Arctic Ocean were caused by water that had warmed up strongly off the east coast of North America from June 2013. It took some months for this warm water to be carried by the Gulf Stream into the Arctic Ocean.

Meanwhile, very high sea surface temperatures are recorded in the Arctic Ocean, as above image shows, while warm water is carried into the Arctic Ocean by the Gulf Stream, as illustrated by the image below.

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

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

The Biggest Story of 2013

While the world chose to turn a blind eye, the biggest story of 2013 is the methane over the Arctic. As the year progressed, huge quantities of methane started to be released from the seabed of the Arctic Ocean.

Biggest story of 2013: Huge methane releases from the seafloor of the Arctic Ocean
Very high concentrations of methane have been recorded over the Arctic Ocean over the year and the high releases are still continuing (a peak of 2399 ppb was reached on December 29, 2013, p.m.). The methane appears to originate particularly from areas along the Gakkel Ridge fault line that continues as the Laptev Sea Ridge, as discussed in earlier posts.

The Naval Research Laboratory animation below shows that sea ice extent is growing and that thinner sea ice is getting thicker, which is normal for this time of year. At the same time, the multi-meters thick ice is not increasing in extent nor in thickness. In fact, much multi-meters thick sea ice is being pushed out of the Arctic Ocean. Methane looks to be moving underneath the sea ice along exit currents and entering the atmosphere at the edges of the sea ice, where the sea ice is fractured or thin enough to allow methane to rise.

What is causing the release of this much methane?

To answer this question, let's first examine why the Arctic is warming up more rapidly than other places.

Emissions are causing albedo changes in the Arctic, while emissions from North America are - due to the Coriolis effect - moving over areas off the North American coast in the path of the Gulf Stream (see animation on the right).

These impacts constitute a second kind of warming that is hitting the Arctic particularly hard, on top of global warming.

In addition, there are feedbacks that are further accelerating warming of the Arctic, in particular:
  • Snow and ice decline is causing more sunlight to be absorbed in the Arctic (feedback #1).
  • As warming in the Arctic accelerates, a weaker Jet Stream lets warmer air move from lower latitudes into the Arctic (feedback #10).
  • A weaker Jet Stream further elevates the chance of heat waves warming up the Gulf Stream and warming up rivers that end in the Arctic Ocean (feedback #11). This feedback looks to have caused a lot of seabed warming and subsequent methane releases from the sea floor of the Arctic Ocean.  
  • The high methane concentrations are in turn further warming up the air over the Arctic (feedback #2). 
The above is depicted in the diagram below.

The diagram below shows thirteen feedbacks that are accelerating warming in the Arctic.

Hover over each kind of warming and feedback to view more details, click to go to page with further background 
Image Mapemissions cause global warmingArctic warming accelerated by soot, etc.additional warming of Gulf Stream by emissions methane releases escalatePolar vortex and jet stream weaken as Arctic warmssnow and ice decline causing less sunlight to be reflected back into spacemethane releases warm Arctic airas sea ice decline weakens vertical currents, seabed warmsStorms cause vertical mixing of wateraccelerated Arctic warming causes storms that push cold air of the Arcticextreme weather causing storms that push away sea iceextreme weather causing storms that create higher waves, breaking up the sea icestorms creating more wavy waters that absorb more sunlightextreme weather causing fires, etc.weaker polar vortex and jet stream let cold air move out of Arcticextreme weather causing warmer waterssnow and ice decline cause seismic activity that destabilizes hydratesmethane releases prevent sea ice from forming
The image below shows that global warming is hitting the polar regions particularly hard. In a large area of the Arctic Ocean, surface temperature anomalies of more than 2.5 degrees Celsius were recorded during the year 2013.

Importantly, on specific days anomalies did reach much higher values. The image below shows how a large area of the Arctic was exposed to 20+ degrees Celsius surface temperature anomalies recently.

[ click on image to enlarge ]
The NOAA map below shows where sea surface temperatures in August 2013 were warmer (red) or cooler (blue) than the 1982-2006 average.

By September 2013, surface waters around the Barents Sea Opening were about 5°F (3°C) warmer than they were in 2012. Southern Barents Sea temperatures reached 52°F (11°C), which is 9°F (5°C) warmer than the 1977-2006 average. Warm water from rivers flowing into the Arctic Ocean was highlighted in the earlier post Arctic Ocean is turning red.

The danger is that an ever warmer seabed will result in release of ever larger quantities of methane, escalating into runaway global warming.

What makes this story even bigger is that the media have largely chosen to ignore the threat that methane releases from the Arctic Ocean will escalate into to runaway global warming.

While one can read many stories in the media that global warming was supposed to somehow have 'halted', little attention was given to a recent study that points out that the commonly-used United Kingdom temperature record is actually biased and underestimates warming in certain regions, in particular the Arctic.

And while the IPCC points out that most of the additional heat associated with global warming goes into oceans (image right), the IPCC fails to highlight the vulnerability of the Arctic Ocean.

Indeed, perhaps the biggest story of the year is the question why the IPCC has decided not to warn people about the looming Arctic methane threat, ignoring the need for comprehensive and effective action such as discussed at the Climate Plan Blog.


- Ocean heat: Four Hiroshima bombs a second: how we imagine climate change

- (Three kinds of) Warming in the Arctic

  1. Albedo: snow and ice decline causing less sunlight to be reflected back into space
  2. Methane releases warm Arctic air
  3. As sea ice decline weakens vertical currents, seabed warms
  4. Storms cause vertical mixing of water
  5. Accelerated Arctic warming causes storms that push cold air of the Arctic
  6. Extreme weather causing storms that push away sea ice
  7. Extreme weather causing storms that create higher waves, breaking up the sea ice
  8. Storms creating more wavy waters that absorb more sunlight
  9. Extreme weather causing fires, etc." title="extreme weather causing fires, etc.
  10. Weaker polar vortex and jet stream let cold air move out of Arctic
  11. Extreme weather causing warmer waters
  12. Snow and ice decline cause seismic activity that destabilizes hydrates
  13. Methane releases prevent sea ice from forming

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Arctic Methane Release and Rapid Temperature Rise are interlinked

The image below shows methane readings on November 17, 2013 p.m.

[ click on image to enlarge ]
Very high methane readings are present over the Laptev Sea, the East Siberian Sea and the Beaufort Sea. The situation may be even worse than what it seems at first glance. The pointed shape in the Laptev Sea doesn't imply low methane levels in that area. The IASI (Infrared Atmospheric Sounding Interferometer) instrument measuring methane only covers a certain width. The pointed shapes that show up on above image and the bottom inset, are areas where no measurements were taken, resulting from the way the polar-orbiting satellite circum-navigates the globe, as pictured on the top inset. These pointed shapes are visible as light-grey areas on the image below.

Additionally, no data were available for the areas colored darker grey on above image. At lower altitudes, this absence of data can be due to mountains in the area. It can also be that measurements are obscured by clouds, in which case no data are visible for the respective area; again, this doesn't imply that no methane was present there.

So, while there are no data for some areas in the Laptev Sea on Nov. 17, the conclusion must noretheless be that methane was actually present at very high levels all the way from the Laptev Sea to the East Siberian Sea. This conclusion is supported by data from earlier days, e.g. as shown in this post.

Therefore, the situation in the Laptev Sea is worse that it looks at first glance and levels may actually have been even higher on Nov. 17 than the peak reading of 2304 ppb that was recorded on that day. Similarly, more methane may actually be present closer to the North Pole than is showing up on above images.

Why methane is rising from the Arctic seabed

For some time now, huge amounts of methane have been released from the seabed of the Arctic Ocean, reaching the atmosphere at levels of up to 2662 ppb (on November 9, 2013). What caused this? Before examining this further, let's first go back to what was said in an earlier post about warm water off the coast of North Anmerica.

A dust storm approaches Stratford, Texas, in 1935. From: Wikipedia: Dust Bowl
During the 1930s, North America experienced a devastating drought affecting almost two-thirds of the United States as well as parts of Mexico and Canada. The period is referred to as the Dust Bowl, for its numerous dust storms.

Rapid creation of farms and use of gasoline tractors had caused erosion at massive scale.

Extensive deep plowing of the virgin topsoil of the Great Plains in the preceding decade had removed the natural deep-rooted vegetation that previously kept the soil in place and trapped moisture even during periods of drought and high winds.

So, when the drought came, the dust storms emerged. But what caused the drought?

A 2004 study concludes that the drought was caused by anomalous tropical sea surface temperatures (SST) during that decade and that interactions between the atmosphere and the land surface increased its severity (see image above right with SST anomalies).

As the above chart shows, SST anomalies in the days of the Dust Bowl were not greater than 1°C. It is in this context that the current situation in the Arctic must be seen. In 2013, SST anomalies of 5°C or more showed up in virtually all areas in the Arctic Ocean where the sea ice disappeared; some areas are exposed to sea surface temperature anomalies even higher than 8°C (14.4°F), as discussed in the post Arctic Ocean is turning red.

As the above Naval Research Laboratory image shows, strong winds can push a lot of sea ice out of the Arctic Ocean. The resulting absence of sea ice can disrupt vertical sea currents that would otherwise cool the seabed. Furthermore, strong winds can boost warming of the seabed of the Arctic Ocean by mixing warm surface water down the vertical water column. Such feedbacks have been discussed in earlier posts such as the Diagram of Doom. Changes that take place in the Arctic can also cause extreme weather patterns elsewhere, as discussed in an earlier post on changes to the Polar Jet Stream.

Indeed, events can be closely interlinked and the world is now stumbling from one extreme weather event into another. Moreover, things look set to get worse every year. And this can in turn make things even worse in the Arctic. Water off the coast of North America, after reaching 'Record Warmest' temperatures in July 2013, proceeded to travel to the Arctic Ocean, where it is now warming up the seabed.
NOAA: part of the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of North America reached record warmest temperatures in July 2013
Below, Malcolm Light explains:

Pollution clouds pouring eastwards off the coast of Canada and the United States are the main culprits in heating the Gulf Stream as this region has the highest oceanic evaporation on Earth.

While the mean speed of the Gulf Stream is 4 miles per hour (6.4 km/hour or 1.78 metres/second), the water slows down as it travels north.

In the much wider North Atlantic Current, which is its North Eastern extension, water flows at about 0.51 metres/second (3.5 times slower), while the West Spitzbergen (Svalbard) current flows at about 0.35 metres/second (5 times slower).

Consequently, it will take quite some time for the summer-heated Gulf Stream waters to reach the Laptev Sea.

In addition, because the Gulf Stream does a closed circuit in the tropical Atlantic, passing close to West Africa (Canary Current) and returning back to the Gulf along the hurricane tracks (North Equitorial Current), it is able to continuously feed hot water into the North Atlantic Current over a very long time period.

This explains why methane is continuously boiling off the subsea methane hydrates from the Eurasian Basin and Laptev Sea during September to November this year and will continue to be emitted past January 2014.

How much will temperatures rise?

The atmospheric temperature increase in Australia this year (0.22oC) indicates that in 10 years it will exceed 2.2oC and in 30 to 40 years, 6.6oC to 8.8oC.

This is the same as the predicted temperature increase from the Arctic methane build up and will lead to total global deglaciation and our extinction by the middle of this century.

There is in addition a delayed carbon dioxide and methane temperature anomaly of 12oC to 20oC.  The 20oC  methane delayed temperature anomaly is the same as the temperature anomaly of the hot clouds that have been blowing around the Arctic this year, indicating that the Arctic has almost caught up with the methane delayed global warming heating.

The stage is therefore set for a giant firestorm, drought and sea level rise mostly caused by the uncontrolled build up of methane in the atmosphere due to the carbon dioxide induced global warming destabilization of the Arctic permafrost and subsea methane hydrates.

So, what to do?

The power, prestige and massive economy of the United States have been built on cheap and abundant fossil fuels and Canada is now trying to do the same. Will the US and Canada, in the short time frame we have left (3 decades), be able to eliminate their extreme carbon footprints? Note that Australia, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have similar extreme carbon footprints as well. An additional problem is that reducing emissions from coal-fired power plants will also reduce sulfur emissions that currently mask the full wrath of global warming.

A Comprehensive Climate Plan must include ways to reduce methane levels

What we have got to do is eliminate as much of the atmospheric methane by whatever means we are able to devise,  to bring its concentration down to about 750 ppb. This level will eliminate the methane delayed temperature anomaly and give the massive industrial nations a little leaway to get their houses in order.

All the scientific expenditure and ingenuity of the major industrial nations should be engaged in developing methods of breaking down atmospheric methane without burning it. Methods of increasing the tropospheric and stratospheric hydroxyl concentrations and using radio - laser systems such as the Alamo - Lucy projects and their applications to HAARP must be developed and tested with the utmost urgency as should local methods of converting carbon dioxide and methane via catalysts into other products. We have to get rid of this methane monster before it devours us all. A French group of scientists and engineers have started work on the Alamo-Lucy projects in Europe. If we fail to reduce the fast growing methane content of the atmosphere in the next few decades we are going to go the same way as the dinosaurs.

I cannot emphasise more, how serious humanity’s predicament is and what we could do to try to prevent our certain extinction if we continue down the present path we are following. If we compare ourselves to the Titanic we are only moments away from hitting the iceberg.

Three more images are added to further illustrate Malcolm Light's words. The above image highlights how much temperatures have been rising in the Arctic over the past few decades. In above image, anomalies are visualized by latitude, but are averaged by longitude globally, masking even higher anomalies that can be experienced at specific areas along the same longitude. At times, some areas in the Arctic do already experience anomalies of over 20°C, as also shown by the image below. 

Finally, the image below, from a post at the methane-hydrates blog

All this calls for comprehensive and effective action, as described at the Climate Plan blog


- Causes of high methane levels over Arctic Ocean

- Climate Plan

- Horrific amounts of methane over Laptev Sea

- Methane Levels going through the Roof

- Unfolding Methane Catastrophe

- Methane Release caused by Earthquakes

- Temperature Rise

- North Hole

- The LUCY project

- The Alamo Project

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Just do NOT tell them the monster exists

The Arctic Methane Monster

As discussed in a previous post, the IPCC appears to be acting as if there was a carbon budget to divide among countries, whereas in reality there is a huge carbon debt to our children, while the situation could become catastrophic any time soon.

Indeed, carbon dioxide is not the only greenhouse gas and the Arctic methane monster is threatening to disrupt the cosy lifetyle of those who want to keep selling parts of such non-existing carbon budgets.

So, who do you think the IPCC has been listening to, to reach a conclusion after six years of analysis? Experts or snake oil sellers? The cartoon may give you a hint, but why don't you make up your own mind by going over the IPCC statements and comments below.

Abrupt Climate Change

The IPCC recently issued AR5 documents that included a discussion of Abrupt Climate Change.

from: IPCC AR5 Working Group 1 Technical Summary (final draft)
The IPCC gives some examples:

Yes, methane release from clathrates sounds scary.

If there is little consensus on the likelihood, then surely some experts do believe it is likely. Yet, the IPCC somehow reaches the following conclusion, and does so with high confidence:

Unlikely? What was the basis for this IPCC conclusion? 

This seems like a conclusion that can only have been reached after a robust analysis of all the evidence. So, how did the IPCC reach this conclusion, given that it did so with such high confidence?

Let's have a look. The above conclusion is preceeded by this statement:

OK, that means clathrates will increasingly become destabilized. The IPCC then adds an argument why this would not result in abrupt climate change this century.

Sure, but that's just one rather insignificant negative feedback, compared to the many more significant positive feedbacks, such as melting causing isostatic rebound that can contribute to the occurrence of earthquakes and landslides, in turn triggering methane release. Yet, without even mentioning these positive feedbacks, the paragraph then jumps to the following conclusion:

If these initial estimates are not insignificant and if it's all rather difficult to formally assess, how then is it possible that the IPCC reached its end-conclusion with such high confidence? Moreover, was there any basis for these "initial estimates"? Perhaps there's more elsewhere in the IPCC documents. Here's another paragraph that preceeded the above.

All this expresses is low confidence in existing modeling and lack of understanding of the various processes. Again, how then is it possible that the IPCC reached its conclusion with such high confidence?

How much methane is currently released from hydrates?

On this, the IPCC says:

OK, so things could become scary. And sure, there are no large abrupt releases taking place now, but that doesn't mean there's not going to be any in future. In case of gradual processes, it makes sense to base projections on historic releases. In case of abrupt releases, however, current releases should not be the basis for reaching a conclusion with high confidence.

So, was the work of Dr. Natalia Shakhova perhaps used as the basis for these estimates? Read on!

How much methane is stored under the Arctic Ocean?

How much methane is present in sediments under the seabed of the Arctic Ocean, in the form of free gas and hydrates? On this, the IPCC says in FAQ6:

That doesn't seem to reflect the estimates of Dr. Natalia Shakhova. According to older estimates, the total amount of methane in the atmosphere is about 5 Gt. Saying that more than 50 Gt of methane could be stored in hydrates the Arctic seems deceptive and appears to be seriously downplaying a very dangerous situation.

Natalia Shakhova et al. in 2010 estimated the accumulated potential for the East Siberian Arctic Shelf (ESAS) region alone (image on the right) as follows:
  • organic carbon in permafrost of about 500 Gt
  • about 1000 Gt in hydrate deposits
  • about 700 Gt in free gas beneath the gas hydrate stability zone.
Back in 2008, Natalia Shakhova et al. considered release of up to 50 Gt of predicted amount of hydrate storage as highly possible for abrupt release at any time. Did the IPCC perhaps misread the figures, mistaking the part of the methane that is ready for abrupt release for the total amount of methane in the Arctic?

How long could it take for large amounts of methane to reach the atmosphere?

How long could it take for large amounts to reach the atmosphere? On this, the IPCC says in FAQ6, in the same and the next paragraph:

Events in which most, if not virtually all methane that escaped from the seabed did enter the atmosphere have been studied in 2002 and published in 2006, as reported at:
and at:

Below, a screenshot from an interview of John Mason with Natalia Shakhova, published at:

In conclusion, Dr Natalia Shakhova also rejects the idea that methane release from hydrates always takes place gradually, over a long time. Especially in the Arctic, there's a huge danger of abrupt release, given the accelerated warming that takes place in the Arctic, given the huge amounts of methane stored in sediments in the form of free gas and methane, given the presence of a tectonic fault line, etc, etc.

Once released, methane won't get broken down easily in the Arctic Ocean, as this requires the presence of bacteria that can oxidize the methane, as well as free oxygen in the water. Once depleted, oxygen isn't quickly replenished in the Arctic Ocean. Lack of bacteria and depletion of oxygen in the waters of the Arctic Ocean could prevent oxidation of methane rising up in the waters, as described at:

In the Arctic, low temperatures mean there are less bacteria that need more time to break down the methane. In other places, currents may bring bacteria back to the location of the methane plume repeatedly. In the Arctic, many currents are long, so once bacteria have flowed away from the location of the plume, they could be driven out of the Arctic Ocean or may return only after a long time, i.e. too long to survive in Arctic waters which are cold and often ice-covered, so a lot of time little or no sunshine penetrates the waters.

In the Arctic, the danger is much larger that methane releases will overwhelm the capacity of bacteria to break it down in the water. In case of large abrupt releases in the Arctic, the danger is that much of the methane will reach the atmosphere unaffected and remain there for a long time, due to the Jet Stream and the low levels of hydroxyl in the Arctic atmosphere, as further described at:

BTW, how did all this methane manage to reach the atmosphere over the Arctic Ocean? 

Methane levels over the Arcic Ocean appear to be rising, as illustrated by the combination of images below, showing methane levels over five years (2009 on the left, to 2013 on the right), each time for the same period (January 21-31) - images by Dr. Leonid Yurganov.

[ Click on image to enlarge - from: Dramatic increase in methane in the Arctic in January 2013 ]
If the IPCC was right, how then was it possible methane levels to rise so sharply and abruptly. How was it possible for large amounts of methane to be present over the deep waters of the Arctic Ocean, as discussed at:

[ How did this methane get there? - click on image to enlarge - see also: Methane over deep waters of Arctic Ocean ]
There is a wealth of evidence from scientists such as Igor Semiletov and Natalia Shakhova who have - year after year - been taking measurements in the East Siberian Arctic Shelf, complete with first-hand reports that methane plumes have been detected.

"We've found continuous, powerful and impressive seeping structures more than 1,000 metres in diameter. In a very small area, less than 10,000 square miles, we have counted more than 100 fountains, or torch-like structures, bubbling through the water column and injected directly into the atmosphere from the seabed," Dr Semiletov said, "We carried out checks at about 115 stationary points and discovered methane fields of a fantastic scale - I think on a scale not seen before. Some of the plumes were a kilometre or more wide and the emissions went directly into the atmosphere - the concentration was a hundred times higher than normal."  -  Vast methane 'plumes' seen in Arctic ocean as sea ice retreats, by Steve Connor in The Independent, December 13, 2011.

The image below shows a cluster of methane plumes, over one km in diameter, that appeared in the Laptev Sea end September 2011. The image is part of a paper on the unfolding "Methane Catastrophe".

Of course, we all wished that we're wrong about this terrifying Arctic methane threat, but the precautionary principle demands a thorough investigation of observations that appear to be at odds with wishful thinking, especially when the stakes are so high. So, IPCC, where's the evidence?


- Arctic Methane Monster

- Methane over deep waters of Arctic Ocean

- Methane hydrate myths

- Methane hydrates

- Methane release caused by earthquakes

- Earthquake hits Laptev Sea

- North Hole

- Seismic activity, by Malcolm Light and Sam Carana (2011)

- Thermal expansion of the Earth's crust necessitates geoengineering (2011)

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Methane over deep waters of Arctic Ocean

The image below shows a lot of methane over deeper parts of oceans, in particular the Arctic Ocean.

[ click on image to enlarge ]
Let's zoom in and take a closer look at what's happening.

[ click on image to enlarge ]
As earlier discussed in the post Methane release caused by earthquakes, there has been a lot of seismic activity in the Aleutian Islands region all the way up into Alaska, including an earthquake with a magnitude of 7 on the Richter scale on August 30, 2013, and several more recent earthquakes with a higher magnitude than 6 on the Richter scale.

An earthquake with a magnitude of 4.6 on the Richter scale hit the Laptev Sea on September 28, 2013. Furthermore, there have been several earthquakes in Siberia, while an earthquake with a magnitude of 6.7 on the Richter scale recently hit the Sea of Okhotsk, which occurred at a depth of 359.3 miles (578.24 km). Earthquakes at such a depth can be felt at great distances from the epicenter and can destabilize methane hydrates.

The presence of methane over the deeper parts of the Arctic Ocean has been discussed in a number of post at this blog recently (see under related, below). It should serve as a warning to those who believed that all methane escaping from deep-sea hydrates would be oxidized in the water by microbes before entering the atmosphere.

The IPCC appears to still close its eyes for such scenarios. Look at this screenshot from IPCC AR5 WGI TS.3.7:

Low release this century? Well, the danger may seem low now in many places, but the situation is already very dangerous in the Arctic, where hydroxyl levels in the atmosphere are very low, where water temperatures can show huge anomalies and where seas can be very shallow and at times become super-saturated with methane, to the extent that oxygen depletion in the water prevents methane oxidation. In the case of large abrupt release, waters will soon become super-saturated with methane locally, especially in the shallow parts of the Arctic Ocean. Furthermore, low sea temperatures and the peculiarities of currents create conditions in the Arctic Ocean that are not beneficial to the kind of growth of microbes that would decompose methane in oceans elsewhere.

How much methane are we talking about? One look at the top image shows that there's a huge amount of methane over the Arctic Ocean. On October 3, 2013, a peak reading was recorded of 2283 ppb and that wasn't even the highest recent reading, as illustrated by the graph below.

Where were these large amounts of methane released? The animation below shows methane methane readings of over 1950 ppb on October 3, 2013, on the afternoon only and with readings at only four relatively low altitudes, with methane over the Arctic Ocean dominating the picture.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Earthquake hits Laptev Sea

An earthquake with a magnitude of 4.6 on the Richter scale hit the Laptev Sea on September 28, 2013.

[ click on image to enlarge ]
This follows a number of earthquakes on or close to the fault line that crosses the Arctic Ocean and extends into Siberia, as shown on above map and on the map below.

[ click to enlarge ]
Furthermore, as earlier discussed in the post Methane release caused by earthquakes, there has been a lot of seismic activity in the Aleutian Islands region all the way up into Alaska, including an earthquake with a magnitude of 7 on the Richter scale on August 30, 2013, and several more recent earthquakes with a higher magnitude than 6 on the Richter scale.

This is a lot of seismic activity for the Arctic, given that this is a relatively quiet part of the globe in terms of earthquakes.

[ click on image to enlarge ]
As above map shows, there were 1250 earthquakes with a magnitude of 2.5 or higher over the past 30 days globally. About 90% of the world's earthquakes occur along the Ring of Fire, on the edges of the Pacific Ocean.

The fault line that crosses the Arctic Ocean marks the boundery between the North American Plate and the Eurasian Plate. Along this fault, huge amounts of methane are held in sediments, in the form of free gas and hydrates. The danger is that earthquakes along this fault will destabilize methane, causing it to rise abruptly in large amounts and enter the atmosphere.

As the top image shows, a lot of methane is currently present in the atmosphere along this fault line. Methane has shown up there repeatedly, indicating that methane there has been prone to release for some time and warning that even larger releases could occur soon.

Related posts

- Methane release caused by earthquakes (2013)

- North Hole (2013)

- Sea of Okhotsk (2013)

- Seismic activity, by Malcolm Light and Sam Carana (2011)

- Thermal expansion of the Earth's crust necessitates geoengineering (2011)