Showing posts sorted by relevance for query methane plume. Sort by date Show all posts
Showing posts sorted by relevance for query methane plume. Sort by date Show all posts

Monday, March 13, 2017

Methane Erupting From Arctic Ocean Seafloor

Seafloor methane often missed in measurements

Large amounts of methane are erupting from the seafloor of the Arctic Ocean. These methane eruptions are often missed by measuring stations, because these stations are located on land, while measurements are typically taken at low altitude, thus missing the methane that rises in plumes from the Arctic Ocean. By the time the methane reaches the coast, it has typically risen to higher altitudes, thus not showing up in low-altitude measurements taken at stations on land.

The image below shows the highest mean global methane levels on March 10 over the years from 2013 through 2017, for selected altitudes corresponding to 945 mb (close to sea level) to 74 mb.


The table below shows the altitude equivalents in feet (ft), meter (m) and millibar (mb).
57,016 ft44,690 ft36,850 ft30,570 ft25,544 ft19,820 ft14,385 ft 8,368 ft1,916 ft
17,378 m13,621 m11,232 m 9,318 m 7,786 m 6,041 m 4,384 m 2,551 m 584 m
 74 mb 147 mb 218 mb 293 mb 367 mb 469 mb 586 mb 742 mb 945 mb

The signature of seafloor methane

Above image shows that, over the years, methane levels have risen strongly high in the Troposphere, up into the Stratosphere. This looks like the signature of methane that originated from the seafloor of the Arctic Ocean. The image below further explains why.


The Tropopause separates the Troposphere from the Stratosphere. The Troposphere ends at a height of some 9 km (5.6 mi; 30,000 ft) at the poles, and at a height of some 17 km (11 mi; 56,000 ft) at the Equator.

As said, methane is erupting from the seafloor of the Arctic Ocean concentrated in plumes, unlike methane from wetlands and agriculture that is typically emitted over a wide area. Since seafloor methane is rising in plumes, it hardly shows up on satellite images at lower altitude either, as the methane is very concentrated inside the area of the plume, while little or no increase in methane levels is taking place outside the plume. Since the plume will cover less than half the area of one pixel, such a plume doesn't show up well at low altitudes on satellite images,

Methane over the Arctic typically does show up on satellite images at altitudes between 4.4 km and 6 km (14,400 ft and 19,800 ft). Seafloor methane will show up better at these higher altitudes where it spreads out over larger areas. At even higher altitudes, methane will then follow the Tropopause, i.e. the methane will rise in altitude while moving closer to the equator.

NOAA image

In conclusion, methane originating from the seafloor of the Arctic Ocean can strongly contribute to high methane levels that show up over the Equator at higher altitudes, but this methane can be misinterpreted for methane originating from tropical wetlands.

Methane levels as high as 2846 ppb
[ click on images to enlarge ]

On March 14, 2017, methane levels were as high as 2846 ppb, as illustrated by the image on the right. While the origin of these high levels looks hard to determine from this image, the high levels showing up over the East Siberian Arctic Shelf (ESAS) later that day (image underneath) give an ominous warning that destabilization of methane hydrates is taking place.

The images also show that high methane levels are showing up at many other places, e.g. over Antarctica where hydrate destabilization also appears to be taking place, which could also be the cause of noctilucent clouds as discussed in earlier posts (see links at end of this post).

Why is methane erupting from the Arctic Ocean?

Why are increasingly large quantities of methane erupting from the seafloor of the Arctic Ocean? The main driver is warming of the Arctic Ocean that is destabilizing once-permanently-frozen sediments that contain huge amounts of methane in the form of hydrates and free gas.

Ocean heat is increasingly entering the Arctic Ocean from the Atlantic Ocean, as illustrated by the images below. Self-reinforcing feedbacks, in particular sea ice decline, further speed up warming of the Arctic Ocean.

[ from earlier post ]

[ from earlier post ]
Self-reinforcing feedback loops

[ click on images to enlarge ]
Meanwhile, the next El Niño event has already started, at a time when sea surface temperature anomalies over the Pacific Ocean are very high as illustrated by the image on the right showing sea surface temperature anomalies east of South America as high as 5.3°C or 9.5°F (compared to 1981-2011) on February 28, 2017.

Greater contrast between sea surface temperatures and temperatures on land has contributed to flooding in California and South America.

Importantly, more water vapor in the atmosphere results in more warming, since water vapor is a potent greenhouse gas.

[ click on images to enlarge ]
Above images shows ECMWF (European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts) plumes with strong positive anomalies in all three El Niño regions (on the right).

In other words, temperatures in 2017 look set to be very high, which spells bad news for the Arctic where temperature anomalies are already several times higher than in the rest of the world.

Arctic sea ice looks set to take a steep fall, as illustrated by the image below.


The danger is that further self-reinforcing feedback loops such as albedo decline and methane releases will accelerate warming and, in combination with further warming elements, cause a temperature rise as high as 10°C or 18°F by the year 2026, as described at the extinction page.

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


Links

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

• Extinction
http://arctic-news.blogspot.com/p/extinction.html

• Warning of mass extinction of species, including humans, within one decade
http://arctic-news.blogspot.com/2017/02/warning-of-mass-extinction-of-species-including-humans-within-one-decade.html

• Low sea ice extent contributes to high methane levels at both poles
http://arctic-news.blogspot.com/2017/03/low-sea-ice-extent-contributes-to-high-methane-levels-at-both-poles.html

• Noctilucent clouds indicate more methane in upper atmosphere
http://arctic-news.blogspot.com/2012/09/noctilucent-clouds-indicate-more-methane-in-upper-atmosphere.html

• Noctilucent clouds: further confirmation of large methane releases
http://methane-hydrates.blogspot.com/2013/12/noctilucent-clouds-further-confirmation-of-large-methane-releases.html



Thursday, June 18, 2020

2020 Siberian Heatwave continues


Very high temperatures hit Northern Europe and Eastern Siberia near the Arctic Ocean on June 18, 2020. This is a continuation of the heatwave that hit Siberia in May 2020.

The image below, from an earlier post, shows temperature anomalies that were forecast to be at the high end of the scale over Siberia on May 22, 2020, 06:00 UTC, i.e. 30°C or 54°F higher than 1979-2000. At the same time, cold temperatures were forecast for much of eastern Europe.


What enables such a strong heatwave to develop is that the Jet Stream is getting more wavy as the temperature difference between the North Pole and the Equator is narrowing, causing both hot air to move up into the Arctic (red arrow) and cold air to descend out of the Arctic (blue arrow).

On June 19, 2020, at 03:00 UTC, a temperature of 33.2°C or 91.8°F was recorded in Siberia near the Arctic Ocean (green circle).


The image below shows a temperature forecast of 33.5°C or 92.2°F in Siberia near the Arctic Ocean on June 20, 2020, at 03:00 UTC (green circle).


The image below is a forecast for June 23, 2020, showing how a distorted Jet Stream enables cold air to move down into Russia, while at the same time enabling hot air to move north over Scandinavia and Siberia, near the Arctic Ocean.


The image below is a forecast for June 25, 2020, showing the coast of Siberia near the Arctic Ocean getting hit by temperature anomalies at the top end of scale, i.e. 30°C or 54°F higher than 1979-2000.


The image on the right is an update, showing how wavy the Jet Stream turned out to be on June 25, 2020.

This facilitates hot air getting carried north over Western Europe, East Siberia and through the Bering Strait, while cold air is moving south over the European part of Russia. Blocking patterns that prolong such a situation go hand in hand with a more wavy Jet Stream.

Record High Temperature in Arctic

The image below shows that temperatures in Siberia were as high as 40°C or 104°F at 5 cm above the ground on June 21, 2020, at 3 pm, the Ventusky.com map shows.


This indicates how much the soil of what once was permafrost is heating up. At 2 m above ground level, i.e. the default height for air temperature measurements, it was 30°C or 86°F, as the image below shows. The location marked by the star is at 71°28' North latitude and 142°59' East longitude, and at and altitude of 13 m.


The day before, Verkhoyansk in Siberia reached a temperature of 38°C or 100.4°F on June 20, 2020, a record high for the Arctic. Verkhoyansk is located at 67°55′ North latitude.

Both locations are well north of the Arctic Circle that - at 66°30′ N - constitutes the southern limit of the area within which, for one day or more each year, the Sun does not set (about June 21) or rise (about December 21).

High Ocean Temperatures

The heatwave is heating up the sea surface of the East Siberian Arctic Shelf (ESAS), as illustrated by above image. The ESAS is quite shallow, making that heat can quickly reach the seafloor.

Additionally, the heatwave is heating up rivers that carry large amounts of hot water into the Arctic Ocean.

The image on the right shows sea surface temperatures in the Bering Strait as high as 18.9°C or 66.02°F on June 22, 2020.

The nullschool.net website shows that sea surface temperatures in the Bering Strait were as high as 16.1°C or 60.9°F on June 20, 2020, in the Bering Strait (in Norton Sound, Alaska), i.e. 15.1°C or 27.2°F hotter than 1981-2011.


In summary, the Arctic Ocean is heating up in a number of ways:

- Sea currents are moving hot water from the Pacific Ocean into the Arctic Ocean. Similarly, sea currents are moving hot water from the Atlantic Ocean into the Arctic Ocean.

- The Siberian heatwave is heating up the sea surface of the ESAS.

- The heatwave is heating up rivers that carry large amounts of hot water into the Arctic Ocean.

- Numerous feedbacks can speed up the temperature rise, such as changes to the jet stream that can prolong heatwaves and make them more intense.

The rising temperatures result in record low Arctic sea ice volume, as illustrated by the image on the right and as also discussed in an earlier post.

Heat threatens to destabilize methane hydrates

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


As the panel on the left shows, sea surface temperatures in the Bering Strait were as much as 15.1°C or 27.2°F hotter than 1981-2011 on June 20, 2020 (in Norton Sound, Alaska, at the green circle).

The bathymetry map in the right panel of above image shows how shallow seas in the Arctic Ocean can be. The water over the ESAS is quite shallow, making that the water can warm up very quickly during summer heat peaks and heat can reach the seafloor, which comes with the risk that heat will penetrate cracks in sediments at the seafloor. Melting of ice in such cracks can lead to abrupt destabilization of methane hydrates contained in sediments.

Large abrupt methane releases will quickly deplete the oxygen in shallow waters, making it harder for microbes to break down the methane, while methane rising through waters that are shallow can enter the atmosphere very quickly.

The situation is extremely dangerous, given the vast amounts of methane present in sediments in the ESAS, given the high global warming potential (GWP) of methane following release and given that over the Arctic there is very little hydroxyl in the air to break down the methane.

[ from earlier post ]

Ominously, the MetOp-1 satellite recorded a peak methane level of 2847 parts per billion on the afternoon of June 24, 2020, at 469 mb.


The next day, on the afternoon of June 25, 2020, MetOp-1 recorded a mean methane level of 1903 parts per billion at 293 mb. The 469 mb pressure level on above image corresponds with altitude of 6,041 m or 19,820 feet on the conversion table below. The 293 mb mean on the image below corresponds with a much higher altitude, i.e. 9,318 m or 30,570 feet on the conversion table below.


Methane reaching the Stratosphere

The MetOp satellites typically record the highest annual mean methane level in September. The image below, from an earlier post, shows that on the afternoon of September 30, 2019, the MetOp-1 satellite recorded the highest mean methane level, i.e. 1914 parts per billion, at 293 mb.


Above image shows that methane levels have risen most at higher altitude over the years. As discussed in an earlier post, methane eruptions from the Arctic Ocean can be missed by measuring stations that are located on land and that often take measurements at low altitude, thus missing the methane that rises in plumes from the Arctic Ocean. Since seafloor methane is rising in plumes, it hardly shows up on satellite images at lower altitude either, as the methane is very concentrated inside the area of the plume, while little or no increase in methane levels is taking place outside the plume. Since the plume will cover less than half the area of one pixel, such a plume doesn't show up well at low altitudes on satellite images.

Over the poles, the Troposphere doesn't reach the heights it does over the tropics. At higher altitudes, methane will follow the Tropopause, i.e. the methane will rise in altitude while moving closer to the Equator.

Methane rises from the Arctic Ocean concentrated in plumes, pushing away the aerosols and gases that slow down the rise of methane elsewhere, which enables methane erupting from the Arctic Ocean to rise straight up fast and reach the stratosphere.

The rise of methane at these high altitudes is very worrying. Once methane reaches the stratosphere, it can remain there for a long time. The IPCC in 2013 (AR5) gave methane a lifetime of 12.4 years. The IPCC in 2001 (TAR) gave stratospheric methane a lifetime of 120 years, adding that less than 7% of methane did reach the stratosphere. 

Further Feedbacks

Furthermore, the Siberian heatwave is also threatening to trigger forest fires that can cause huge amounts of emissions, including black carbon that can settle on the snow and ice cover, further speeding up its demise and causing albedo changes that result in a lot more heat getting absorbed in the Arctic, instead of getting reflected back into space as was previously the case. This is illustrated by the image below showing forest fires in East Siberia on June 19, 2020.


Finally, more intense forest fires threaten to cause organic carbon compounds to enter the stratosphere and damage the ozone layer, 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

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

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

• April 2020 temperatures very high
https://arctic-news.blogspot.com/2020/05/april-2020-temperatures-very-high.html

• Methane Erupting From Arctic Ocean Seafloor
https://arctic-news.blogspot.com/2017/03/methane-erupting-from-arctic-ocean-seafloor.html

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

• Could Humans Go Extinct Within Years?
https://arctic-news.blogspot.com/2020/01/could-humans-go-extinct-within-years.html

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

• Arctic records its hottest temperature ever
https://www.cbsnews.com/news/arctic-records-its-hottest-temperature-ever-2020-06-20/




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:
http://www.ia.ucsb.edu/pa/display.aspx?pkey=1482
and at:
http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1029/2005GB002668/abstract

Below, a screenshot from an interview of John Mason with Natalia Shakhova, published at:
http://www.skepticalscience.com/arctic-methane-outgassing-e-siberian-shelf-part2.html


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:
http://methane-hydrates.blogspot.com/2012/03/large-areas-of-open-ocean-starved-of.html

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:
http://methane-hydrates.blogspot.com/2013/04/methane-hydrates.html

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:
http://arctic-news.blogspot.com/2013/10/methane-over-deep-waters-of-arctic-ocean.html

[ 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?




Related

- Arctic Methane Monster
http://arctic-news.blogspot.com/2013/09/arctic-methane-monster.html

- Methane over deep waters of Arctic Ocean
http://arctic-news.blogspot.com/2013/10/methane-over-deep-waters-of-arctic-ocean.html

- Methane hydrate myths
http://methane-hydrates.blogspot.com/p/myths.html

- Methane hydrates
http://methane-hydrates.blogspot.com/2013/04/methane-hydrates.html

- Methane release caused by earthquakes
http://arctic-news.blogspot.com/2013/09/methane-release-caused-by-earthquakes.html

- Earthquake hits Laptev Sea
http://arctic-news.blogspot.com/2013/09/earthquake-hits-laptev-sea.html

- North Hole
http://arctic-news.blogspot.com/2013/09/north-hole.html

- Seismic activity, by Malcolm Light and Sam Carana (2011)
Arctic-news.blogspot.com/p/seismic-activity.html

- Thermal expansion of the Earth's crust necessitates geoengineering (2011)
Arctic-news.blogspot.com/p/thermal-expansion.html


Saturday, December 21, 2013

Act now on methane

by Malcolm Light

  This is an extract. The full paper including figures and tables is at:  
https://sites.google.com/site/runawayglobalwarming

Methane concentrations in the Arctic are higher than elsewhere in the world, as shown on figure 1. below (NASA image).


Methane is entering the atmosphere at high latitudes and spreading across the globe from there.


What is causing methane to be released in large quantities in the Arctic?

The Gulf Stream, pictured on figure 3. below, is warming up more than usual due to global warming. Specifically, pollution clouds pouring eastwards from the coast of Canada and the United States are the main culprit in heating up the Gulf Stream.

Figure 3. The Gulf Stream
In July 2013, water off the coast of North America reached 'Record Warmest' temperatures and proceeded to travel along the Gulf Stream to the Arctic Ocean, where it is now warming up the seabed. Figure 4. below further shows that above-average temperatures were recorded in July 2013 along the entire path of the Gulf Stream into the Arctic Ocean. 
Figure 4. NOAA: part of the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of North America reached record warmest temperatures in July 2013
The mean speed of the Gulf Stream is 4 miles per hour (6.4 km/hour or 1.78 metres/second), but the water slows down as it travels north. In the much wider North Atlantic Current, which is its north eastern extension, the current flows 3.5 times slower (about 0.51 metres/second), while the West Spitzbergen Current (WSC on figure 5. below) flows at about 0.35 metres/second (5 times slower).


The West Spitzbergen Current dives under the Arctic ice pack west of Svalbard, continuing as the Yermak Branch (YB on above map) into the Nansen Basin, while the Norwegian Current runs along the southern continental shelf of the Arctic Ocean, its hottest core zone at 300 metres depth destabilizing the methane hydrates en route to where the Eurasian Basin meets the Laptev Sea, a region of extreme methane hydrate destabilization and methane emissions. Figure 6. below, from an earlier post by Malcolm Light, shows how warm water flows into the Arctic Ocean and warms up methane hydrates and free gas held in sediments under the Arctic Ocean.


Sediments underneath the Arctic Ocean hold vast amounts of methane. Just one part of the Arctic Ocean alone, the East Siberian Arctic Shelf (ESAS, see figure 7. 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.

Figure 7.
As above figure 7. shows, the 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 all global warming. 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, and Whiteman et al. calculate that an extra 50 Gt of methane would cause $60 trillion in damage. By comparison, the size of the world economy in 2012 was about $70 trillion. 

Smaller releases of methane in the Arctic come with the same risk; their huge local warming impact threatens to further destabilize sediments under the Arctic Ocean and trigger further methane releases, as illustrated by figure 8. below.
Figure 8.
Figure 9. below, from an earlier post by Malcolm Light, shows that, besides the shallow methane hydrate regions in the ESAS, the Arctic Ocean slope and deep water regions contain giant volumes of methane hydrate deposits (methane frozen within the ice).
If only a few percent of this methane hydrate becomes destabilized, it will release enough methane into the atmosphere to cause a Permian Age-type massive extinction event. Recent methane emission maps show that, besides the emissions from the ESAS, huge amounts of methane are being released from other parts of the Arctic Ocean.

We now know that the subsea methane hydrate is destabilizing at a fast-increasing pace and the pattern of destabilization indicates that it is mainly caused by the increasingly hot "Gulf Stream" waters entering the Arctic west of Svalbard and through the Barents Sea. These "Gulf Stream" waters do a complete circuit in the Arctic, even under a complete floating ice cover, and will destabilize the methane hydrates they come in contact with before making an exit along the edges of Greenland. Methane is now also emerging from the waters of the Greenland coastline, where the southward-bound "Gulf Stream" waters exit the Arctic Ocean along the edges of Greenland.

Historically, methane has caused delayed temperature anomalies of some 20°C, according to ice core analysis data, i.e. much higher than anomalies caused by carbon dioxide. Methane has a very high warming potential compared to carbon dioxide. Over a decade, methane's global warming potential is more than 100 times as much as carbon dioxide, while methane's local warming potential can be more than 1000 times as much. As a result, giant zones of circulating warm air in the Arctic have temperature anomalies in excess of 20°C.

Figure 10. [ click on image to enlarge ]
These hot clouds, resulting from many feedbacks including this Arctic atmospheric methane build-up, show that methane's delayed temperature anomaly of 20°C has already caught up in the Arctic and is going to progressively spread around the world resulting in runaway global warming.

Figure 11. [ click on image to enlarge ]
Above figure 11. (by Sam Carana) and figure 12. below (by Malcolm Light) indicate that the critical mean atmospheric temperature anomaly of 8°C will be reached between 2035 and 2050. At this temperature we can expect total deglaciation and extinction, according IPCC AR4 (2007).


By 2012, the mean atmospheric temperature had increased by some 0.8°C by human induced global warming. This year however Australia has seen an anomalous 0.22°C temperature increase. The new Australian temperature gradient implies that in ten years the atmosphere will be 2.2°C hotter and in 30 to 40 years, 6.6 to 8.8°C hotter which is consistent with the Arctic methane emission temperature increase curves of Carana and Light.

The reason for this sudden temperature increase in Australia this year is due to the fast building pall of methane in the Northern Hemisphere caused by global warming and destabilization of the subsea Arctic methane hydrates and the Arctic surface methane hydrate permafrosts.

At the moment, the entire Arctic is covered by a widespread methane cloud, but it is very concentrated (> 1950 ppb) over the Eurasian Basin and Laptev Sea where the subsea methane hydrates are being destabilized at increasing rates by heated Atlantic (Gulf Stream) waters. The area of the Eurasian Basin is similar to that of the East Siberian Arctic Shelf (ESAS) where Shakova et al. (1999) have shown that some 50 billion tons of methane could be released at any moment during the next 50 years from destabilization of subsea ESAS methane hydrates.

Figure 13.  Methane over the Arctic Ocean on December 3, 2013        [ click on image to enlarge ]
At the moment, water saturated with methane is traveling underneath the ice carried by exit currents and emerging at locations where the sea ice is still less than one meter thick, such as in Baffin Bay and in Hudson Bay, as also shown on the animation below.

[ this animation is a 1.5MB file and may take some time to fully load ]
This massive volume of methane entering the atmosphere will produce catastrophic consequences for the global climate system. Furthermore global warming is now destabilizing methane hydrates in the Eurasian Basin even more than on the ESAS. The release of an additional 50 billion tons of methane or more from the Eurasian Basin over the next 50 years will further compound the catastrophe represented by the destabilization of methane hydrates on the ESAS. Essentially we have passed the methane hydrate tipping point and are now accelerating into extinction as the methane hydrate "Clathrate Gun" has begun firing increasingly large volleys of methane into the Arctic atmosphere.

The growth of the mean atmospheric temperature using the curves on figure 12 indicate that the mean atmospheric temperature anomaly will exceed 1.5°C in 15 years and 2°C in 20 years, at which time storm systems will be very extreme with droughts, flooding, sea level rise and the loss of Pacific islands. When the mean atmospheric temperature anomaly reaches 8°C some 39 years in the future, there will be total deglaciation and a major extinction event that will culminate in a Permian-type extinction of all life on Earth.

If we do not stop the massive increases of Arctic methane emissions into the atmosphere the oceans will begin to boil off by 2080, when the mean temperature anomaly exceeds 115 to 120°C and the temperatures will be like those on Venus by 2100 (see figure 12).

The present end of the financial crisis and recovery of the U.S. economy will take us down the same fossil fuel driven road to catastrophe that the U.S. has followed before, when they refused to sign the original Kyoto Protocols. Unless the United States and Canada reduce their extreme carbon footprints (per unit population), they will end up being found guilty of ecocide and genocide, as the number of countries destroyed by the catastrophic weather systems continues to increase.

The United States and Canada seek to expand their economies by increasingly frenetic extraction of fossil fuels, using the most environmentally destructive methods possible (fracking and shale oil), while the population's total addiction to inefficient gas transport is leading our planet into suicide. We are like maniacal lemmings leaping to their deaths over a global warming cliff. What a final and futile legacy it will be for the leader of the free world to be remembered only in the log of some passing alien ship recording the loss of the Earth’s atmosphere and hydrosphere after 2080 due to human greed and absolute energy ineptitude.

The U.S. Government and Canada must ban all environmentally destructive methods of fossil fuel extraction such as fracking, extracting shale oil and coal and widespread construction of the now found to be faulty hydrocarbon pipeline systems. All Federal Government subsidies to fossil fuel corporations, for fossil fuel discovery and extraction must be immediately eliminated and the money spent solely on renewable energy development, which will provide many jobs to the unemployed. All long and short range (high consumption) fossil fuel-powered transport must be electrified or converted to hydrogen and where the range is too large, electric vehicles (including electric trains and ships) must be used instead of fossil fuel-powered trucks or aviation means of transport. All the major work for this conversion (including railway construction) can provide a new and growing set of jobs for the unemployed. Nuclear power stations must continue to be used and should be converted to the safe thorium energy system until the transition is complete.

The U.S. has to put itself on a war footing, but rather than fighting other military forces, it should recall its military forces from various places across the world and set them to work on the massive shift to renewable energy that the country needs to undertake if it wishes to survive the fast approaching catastrophe. The threat now comes from Mother Nature, who has infinite power at her disposal and intends to take no prisoners when she will strike back hard over a very short, absolutely brutal, 30-to-40-year period which has already begun. I cannot emphasise more, how serious humanity’s predicament is and what we should try to do to prevent our certain final destruction and extinction in 30 to 40 years if we continue down the present path we are following.

Figure 14. 
Above action plan (figure 14.) includes efforts to move to a sustainable economy (part 1.) and efforts to reflect and divert heat away from the Arctic (part 2.). Furthermore, it includes action on methane escaping from hydrates in the Arctic (part 3.), as described at the Arctic methane management page. Two types of methane management are further discussed below.

Arctic Methane Permanent Storage

In the ANGELS Proposal, subsea Arctic methane is extracted, stored and sold as LNG for distribution as fuel, to produce fertilizer, etc. Permanent storage underground, however, is more preferable.
Figure 15. 
As described by Sam Carana in an earlier post, Prof. Kenneth Yanda, at the University of California, Irvine, has shown that methane can be stored in propane - methane hydrates that are stable at temperatures of ca 15°C and low pressure (25 pounds per square inch - 1.66 atmospheres), very close to the ambient temperature and pressure conditions.

Figure 16. 
Figure 17. Methane capture in zeolite SBN. Blue represents
adsorption sites, which are optimal for methane (CH4)
uptake. Each site is connected to three other sites (yellow
arrow) at optimal interaction distance.  Credit: LLNL News
Hydrates can be produced that contain larger cages for other gases and smaller cages for methane.

Methane can be converted into propane and other gases with UV light and the final goal would be long-term storage of these gases in the form of hydrates in deep waters such as those north of Alaska, suggests Sam Carana, adding that carbon dioxide can also then be sequestered in the hydrates, after its removal from the atmosphere.

Unlike carbon dioxide, methane is completely non-polar and reacts very weakly with most materials.

Three zeolite types (SBN, ZON and FER) have been found to absorb methane at high to moderate rates (Figure 17, from Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) and UC Berkley, 2013).

These materials can help limit escape of fugutive gases from extraction, transport and distribution of methane.

Lucy and Alamo Projects

The Lucy project seeks to decompose methane in the atmosphere.

In a new modified version of the Lucy Project, hydroxyls can also be generated by a polarized 13.56 MHZ beam intersecting the sea surface over the region where a massive methane torch (plume) is entering the atmosphere, so that the additional hydroxyl will react with the rising methane breaking a large part of it down. The polarized 13.56 MHZ radio waves will decompose atmospheric humidity, mist, fog, ocean spray, and the surface of the waves themselves in the Arctic Ocean into nascent hydrogen and hydroxyl (figure 18).

The newly determined atmospheric temperature gradient indicates that the mean global atmospheric temperature will reach 1.5°C in 15 years and 2°C in 20 years (Figure 14). Consequently we only have 15 years to get an efficient methane destruction radio - laser system designed, tested and installed (Lucy and Alamo (HAARP) Projects, figure 18) before the accelerating methane eruptions take us into uncontrollable runaway global warming. This will give a leeway of 5 years before the critical 2°C temperature anomaly will have been exceeded and we will be looking at catastrophic storm systems, a fast rate of sea level rise and coastal zone flooding with its extremely deleterious effects on world populations and global stability.

Figure 18.