Bubble, bubble, toil and trouble, lets melt the ice and heat the world: artic methane released at greater rate

“Say hello to CH4…”

For those of familiar enough with the science of climate change there is nothing more chilling than the thought of vast reserves of methane gas being released due to a warming climate.

The BBC reports on a recent study which indicates this is exactly what is happening:

Scientists have identified thousands of sites in the Arctic where methane that has been stored for many millennia is bubbling into the atmosphere.

The methane has been trapped by ice, but is able to escape as the ice melts.

Writing in the journal Nature Geoscience, the researchers say this ancient gas could have a significant impact on climate change.

Methane is the second most important greenhouse gas after CO2 and levels are rising after a few years of stability.

The study can be found here, but is behind the pay wall (titled ” Geologic methane seeps along boundaries of Arctic permafrost thaw and melting glaciers):

Methane, a potent greenhouse gas, accumulates in subsurface hydrocarbon reservoirs, such as coal beds and natural gas deposits. In the Arctic, permafrost and glaciers form a ‘cryosphere cap’ that traps gas leaking from these reservoirs, restricting flow to the atmosphere. With a carbon store of over 1,200Pg, the Arctic geologic methane reservoir is large when compared with the global atmospheric methane pool of around 5Pg. As such, the Earth’s climate is sensitive to the escape of even a small fraction of this methane.

Or course, scientists could be just making it up as part of their cunning plan to get more funding – charting ships and aircraft, lugging millions of dollars of equipment to remote locations in order to perpetrate a massive conspiracy.

So what exactly makes this news a little chilling?

For those not faint of heart, I suggest you take a look at the clathrate gun hypothesis.

4 thoughts on “Bubble, bubble, toil and trouble, lets melt the ice and heat the world: artic methane released at greater rate

  1. john byatt says:

    Comment at RC by Hank Roberts

    Hank Roberts says:
    20 May 2012 at 2:09 PM
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-18120093

    —excerpt follows—
    researchers on the new Arctic project, led by Katey Walter Anthony from the University of Alaska at Fairbanks (UAF), were able to identify long-stored gas by the ratio of different isotopes of carbon in the methane molecules.

    Using aerial and ground-based surveys, the team identified about 150,000 methane seeps in Alaska and Greenland in lakes along the margins of ice cover.

    Local sampling showed that some of these are releasing the ancient methane, perhaps from natural gas or coal deposits underneath the lakes, whereas others are emitting much younger gas, presumably formed through decay of plant material in the lakes.

    “We observed most of these cryosphere-cap seeps in lakes along the boundaries of permafrost thaw and in moraines and fjords of retreating glaciers,” they write, emphasising the point that warming in the Arctic is releasing this long-stored carbon.

    “If this relationship holds true for other regions where sedimentary basins are at present capped by permafrost, glaciers and ice sheets, such as northern West Siberia, rich in natural gas and partially underlain by thin permafrost predicted to degrade substantially by 2100, a very strong increase in methane carbon cycling will result, with potential implications for climate warming feedbacks.”

  2. john byatt says:

    Arctic ice extent has been crazy this year up and down over a week or so, thin ice melting and reforming?

    PIOMASS volume is running same path as record low 2011 plot

  3. john byatt says:

    Arctic ocean methane’s nasty twin, permafrost thaw

    http://agwobserver.wordpress.com/2010/08/27/papers-on-permafrost-thawing/

    ,

  4. […] 2012/05/21: WtD: Bubble, bubble, toil and trouble, lets melt the ice and heat the world: artic metha… […]

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