Methane release Accelerates Defrost



Deposits are releasing methane gas hydrates on the seabed of the Arctic Ocean. This gas is 30 times more efficient than CO2 to cause the greenhouse effect. If all the methane is released, the global average temperature increase 6th, at both poles would become 12th with two caps which would unfreeze and oceans would rise 80 meters. Scientists traveling aboard a Russian ship claim to have evidence that millions of tons of methane, 30 times more potent than carbon dioxide from the point of view of global warming gas, is escaping into the atmosphere from the seabed Arctic. There are already 500 submarine vents through which methane bubbles to the surface.

Massive deposits of methane locked up under these seabed in the form of large bubbles to the surface, a phenomenon which coincides with the Arctic warming and the disappearance of the ice blocks in the water, reports exclusively to British newspaper ‘The Independent’ .

Deposits of methane are important because researchers believe that their emergence has in the past been responsible for rapid increases in temperatures, sudden weather changes and even the extinction of many species.

The scientists, who have traveled aboard a Russian research vessel across Russia’s northern coast have discovered intense concentrations of methane in several areas covering thousands of square kilometers of the Siberian continental shelf.

The group has been seething sea surface by the effect of “methane chimneys” rising from the seabed. Experts believe this is because the layers are melted permafrost (permanently frozen ice) that prevented escape submarine methane deposits formed before the last ice age.

Scientists fear that the massive release of methane that could accelerate global warming and lead to a vicious circle in which more and more permafost would melt and increased amounts of greenhouse gases would be released.

The amount of methane deposited under the Arctic is estimated to exceed the carbon stored in the world’s coal reserves, which is vital stabilization of these deposits in an area that is warming at a much faster rate than other planet .

Örjan Gustafsson of Stockholm University and one of the leaders of the team of scientists who traveled on the ship ‘Jacob Smirnitskyi’, says he first discovered a field where the release was so intense that methane gas was not time to dissolve in seawater but rose to the surface as bubbles.

Gas leaks

The existence of such “methane chimneys’ were documented through an echo sounder and seismic instruments, the Swedish expert said, according to which in some places were methane concentrations hundred times higher than normal levels.

These abnormalities were documented in the East Siberian Sea and the Laptev Sea, in an area of ​​several tens of thousands of square kilometers, equivalent to millions of tons of methane, explained Gustafsson.

“The release of methane in these inaccessible regions, suggests that the permafrost is beginning to be drilled, allowing gas to escape. We found high levels of methane in the sea surface and even more at certain depths, “said the scientist.

The findings of that study of the Siberian platform, which will be published in the newsletter of the American Geophysical Union, are being overseen by Igor Semiletov of the Russian Academy of Sciences.

Since 1994, Semiletov has about ten expeditions led by the Laptev Sea, and in the nineties did not detect high levels of methane, something began to happen, however, since 2003.

Semiletov has suggested several possible scenarios to explain this phenomenon, including a greater volume of water from Siberian rivers, which also reaches the sea at somewhat higher temperatures than in the past due to the melting of the ice layer of the earth.

The Arctic has been an average increase in temperature of four degrees Celsius in recent decades and a sharp decline in ocean area covered by ice during the verano.Un group of scientists who study climate evolution have discovered signs that can be be producing runaway climate change, which has sounded the alarm about the risks that such circumstances may pose to Earth. And the responsible for this change is methane.

What follows is a quote from the Emergency Group Methane in the Arctic (AMEG), an organization created by climate scientists senior.

AMEG assessment:

Would the world be in imminent danger, not to say no?

The AMEG studied nonlinear trends in the Earth-Man system and has come to the stunning conclusion that the planet is on the brink of an abrupt climate change could be catastrophic, as a result of a series of unprecedented change in the Arctic.

Methane (CH4) is twenty times greater impact per molecule, over a period of 100 years, carbon dioxide (CO2). Or put another way, methane is more efficient at absorbing infrared radiation emitted from the surface of the earth that carbon dioxide, avoiding to radiate into space. Methane, by accumulating in the atmosphere, has more impact equal weight of CO2.

And it seems that large quantities of methane are beginning to accumulate in the atmosphere of Earth.

According to the United States Department of Energy, since February 2013, methane levels in the atmosphere got to reach 1874 ppb (parts per billion). This level in its historical context is twice more than any other time in the last 400,000 years before the Industrial Revolution. In the past, methane has fluctuated between 300 and 400 ppb during glacial periods; between 600 and 700 ppb in the warm interglacial periods.

Methane emissions in the deep Arctic seas

In 2012, expedition teams in the Arctic were surprised and dismayed, to find that the methane bubbles from deep ocean waters. “Previous observations pointed to large plumes of methane released into the seabed at shallow depth on the north coast of Siberia, but recent findings show fumes in the deep sea, where the surface is covered by ice” (1 ).

Physical Eric Kort (Doctor in Applied Physics at Harvard University) of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, was surprised to see how methane levels increased when they flew over the cracks appearing in the sea ice. These methane measurements are made with aircraft that have scientific instruments, long distances at different altitudes. The study, which covers numerous flights over the Arctic in different seasons, was published in the journal Nature Geoscience. An area of ​​950 square kilometers north of the Alaskan coast was covered, 350 kilometers south of the North Pole.


Moreover, as if the discovery of methane emissions from the deep Arctic seas were not enough cause for concern, a recent study found huge amounts of methane sequestered under the Arctic ice: “It is estimated that the amount of hydrate Free methane and methane gas which is under the ice of Antarctica could be up to 4 million metric tons, an order similar to some estimates over permafrost in the Arctic magnitude. The depth of these reserves makes them more susceptible to produce a climate change than other methane hydrate reserves on Earth “(2).

The Arctic is in the process of merger, while methane is released into the atmosphere

According to the Emergency Group Methane in the Arctic (AMEG), in the Arctic it is producing a crisis: “The risk to international security is very high, due to a profound alteration of the weather, with a global warming out of control “.

Russian scientists have also discovered methane emissions, forming bubbles that occasionally have more than one kilometer in diameter, reaching the surface of the East Siberian Arctic Shelf, which is the largest continental platform in the world in accumulation of methane. 75% of the sea located on the platform has shallow waters less than 50 meters deep, and therefore more exposed to the consequences of warming.

“The amount of methane released astonished the head of Russian research team that has been studying the seabed of the East Siberian Arctic Shelf, in northern Russia, for nearly 20 years” (3).

“We have carried out checks on nearly 115 stationary points and discovered large emissions of methane, on a scale never seen before. Some were a kilometer or more in width, and rising methane directly into the atmosphere, with a concentration 100 times higher than normal, “said Dr. Igor Semiletov of the International Arctic Research Center, University of Alaska Fairbanks , who led the eighth crossing between the United States and Russia through the East Siberian Arctic. (3)

. In terms of amounts of methane to the atmosphere, Dr. Natalia Shakhova the Center for International Arctic Research said: “The concentration of methane in the atmosphere increased three times in the last two centuries. This is a huge increase, between two and three times, and this has never happened in the history of the planet. ” (3)

The cause of these methane emissions, as explained AMEG is due to a cycle that began some 20 or 30 years ago when the currents of the Atlantic and the Pacific Ocean, warmed by greenhouse gases, flowed into the Arctic. This excess heat in the Arctic Ocean has led to increased temperature and melting of sea ice. As usual, the additional heat reaches the shallow waters of the continental shelf, and eventually extends to the seabed, so that methane hydrates and gas trapped there for millennia in the permafrost lid is released .

The amounts of methane that exist in the continental shelf is so big and overwhelming liberate that if only 1% or 2% of the methane accumulated there, could trigger an unstoppable warming. For this reason, some of the most renowned climate scientists in the world were the AMEG, driven by these indisputable signals the release of huge amounts of methane, endangering life on Earth.

Methane and involved about 200 million years ago in a mass extinction, known as the “Great Dying”, resulting in the disappearance of more than half of all life forms. Some suggest that it all began with volcanic eruptions, producing a warming, prompting permafrost layer to melt and liberate methane gas into the atmosphere (something like what is happening today, with the exception that no It is due to volcanoes, but humans), amplifying further warming releasing more methane, reaching a time when conditions became so inhospitable that there was a mass extinction. (4)

Methane Emergency Group Arctic

On November 11, 2012, the AMEG said: “An abrupt climate change is already present … the food prices skyrocketing, and the policies of the governments on climate change on the floor. The government should have acted years ago, now it’s too late … has entered the elephant in the room, and we have continued to ignore. This is the Arctic sea ice … “.

The AMEG only recently made a documentary: Arctic Methane: its relationship with sea ice (5).

The below are excerpts taken from the documentary:

Peter_WadhamsPeter Wadhams, President of the International Association of sea ice and Director of the Polar Physics Group / Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics at the University of Cambridge Ocean, says: “It is urgent to know what’s going on … .the layer ice has reached the minimum values ​​for 40 years, losing nearly half of its thickness. Five years ago the contraction of the ice began to accelerate. Now the melting of ice in summer can not be offset against freezing in winter. ”

James Hansen, associate professor in the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences at Columbia University and former director of the Goddard Institute for Space Studies, says melting ice by warming of the oceans is leading to a massive outpouring of methane hydrates, ie methane molecules trapped in ice crystals, reaching a turning point. In addition, it is already releasing methane from the Arctic tundra and is bubbling in the Arctic Ocean, which is clear evidence of warming waters of the Arctic Ocean. Therefore, there is clear evidence of a warming of the ocean and the release of large amounts of methane into the atmosphere, with dire consequences.

David_WasdellSegún David Wasdell, Meridian International Program Coordinator: “Climate change is out of control, that’s something we now see clearly, and is beginning to quantify for the first time. It is the greatest threat that the world faces. The exchange rate is 200 to 300 times faster than any other event of extinction, of the impact of an asteroid. For example, it takes about 10,000 years to change the concentration of carbon dioxide at 100 ppm, and is currently being done in a period of 20 years. The rate of climate change is huge compared to previous extinction events. ”

Wasdell continues: “We are already in a process of mass extinction. We are losing species and population, partly because of climate change and partly by habitat change, partly because of overexploitation. We have lost about 40% of the phytoplankton in the oceans, which is the base of the food chain. ”

Imagine despareciera 40% of the farmland: a global chaos would occur, with hordes of desperate people invading other countries in search of food and water. On the contrary, what we do when 40% of the main source of food in the sea as a result of climate change induced by man disappears?

A threat to global food supply

Arctic warming affects the whole Northern Hemisphere in a very negative way, endangering the food supply of mankind. With the warming of ocean currents Arctic warming occurs. Currents become more sinuous and slow, generating an abnormal weather across the northern hemisphere.

For example: A couple of years ocean currents were stationed in the area of ​​Pakistan; the crest was placed on Russia. The ocean current did not move for 35 days. There was a lot of rainfall, with flooding in Pakistan, for over a month. You could see on television Pakistanis crowded into small pieces of land, surrounded by water. However, in Moscow, affected by a ridge of high pressure she experienced a heat wave that lasted 35 days. It is estimated that there was a death rate of 50,000 Russians above normal, and the country lost 40% of its wheat crop. Russia stopped exports of wheat.

In 2012, there was a huge drought in the United States, the worst since 1950. Syria, a country that thrives on wheat in the Middle East, had a six-year drought; India has had two droughts in the last four years. And the list is longer …

A radical climate change in the Arctic

According to AMEG, climate change in the Arctic has changed weather patterns, “During the past three decades, the ice has been reduced by around 17-18% per decade due to global warming induced by man. The albedo effect has enormous consequences in the Arctic. Albedo is the reflection of solar radiation on the surface ice and frost. Unfortunately, when this effect declines, seawater and earth absorb most of the solar radiation. The collapse of this effect would be catastrophic for the world accordingly. And unfortunately it is already in decline. This will produce higher emissions of methane and a vicious cycle of reactions that lead to a situation of extinction, probably unstoppable “.

Paul_BeckwithSegún physicist Paul Beckwith, University of Ottawa, since 2007 there has been a sharp increase in the emission of methane, and says that methane can cause the climate reaches a turning point. Believes it is possible that by 2020 the Arctic ice has melted completely, for at least three months a year, without sea ice albedo has the effect cause a runaway warming and weather patterns, such as droughts, floods, etc.


Beckwith believes that geoengineering is the only salvation for the Arctic. This involves the injection of sulfur dioxide into the Arctic atmosphere, which would act as an erupting volcano, blocking sunlight, allowing the Arctic cold. However, there are scientists who question the use of geoengineering without first establishing very precise international protocols. Moreover, many scientists speak of the disastrous consequences of a manipulation of the atmosphere by man.

Many questions and few solutions

PS: A quote from astronaut Ulf Merbold, Federal Republic of Germany, who has participated in three spaceflights:

“For the first time in my life I saw the horizon as one end accentuated by a dark blue stitching curved line: the atmosphere. It was not the ocean of air I had been told many times in my life. I was terrified by its apparent fragility.


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