Tuesday, September 23, 2008

The methane time bomb.

You read stories like this and it makes you want to bang the heads together of all the morons who have spent the last decade debating whether global warming is man made or not.

Scientists have discovered that millions of tons of a greenhouse gas 20 times more potent than carbon dioxide is being released into the atmosphere from beneath the Arctic seabed now that the melting ice is no longer providing an effective lid.

In the past few days, the researchers have seen areas of sea foaming with gas bubbling up through "methane chimneys" rising from the sea floor. They believe that the sub-sea layer of permafrost, which has acted like a "lid" to prevent the gas from escaping, has melted away to allow methane to rise from underground deposits formed before the last ice age.

They have warned that this is likely to be linked with the rapid warming that the region has experienced in recent years.

Methane is about 20 times more powerful as a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide and many scientists fear that its release could accelerate global warming in a giant positive feedback where more atmospheric methane causes higher temperatures, leading to further permafrost melting and the release of yet more methane.

The amount of methane stored beneath the Arctic is calculated to be greater than the total amount of carbon locked up in global coal reserves so there is intense interest in the stability of these deposits as the region warms at a faster rate than other places on earth.

The truth is that none of us know just what this will lead to, but there can be no-one who thinks that this is a good development. Nor is it a totally surprising one, as the Arctic region as a whole has seen temperatures rise by 4C in the last decades alone.

Even here in England the changes have been noticeable.
Central England -- Cold days declining, hot days increasing, 1772 to present. 1995 brought 26 days above 68F (20C) versus an average of 4 days per year since 1772.

Central England - 2001 - Warmest October on record. Over the 20th century Central England temperature has warmed by about 1F (0.5C). Four of the five warmest years on the 343-year record occurred in the last decade.
And now we have "methane chimneys" dispensing their load into the atmosphere.

One of the reasons why so many of us argued that we had to behave as if global warming was real, even if it turned out to be false, was that we had nothing to lose by doing so. However, if we waited until the signs had become inarguable, then we may very well have waited too long.

How many more of these occurrences will be needed to make some people take this seriously?

Click title for full article.


Ingrid said...

I read and saw about this a little while ago and I thought, well, so much for all that mankind wants to do for global warming. Just the release of this and poof..we're up bleep creek so to speak..
Sometimes I imagine being in the future looking back at this time and wonder, what would there be to say about all this? What will have transpired? How much of mankind will still be alive?
but then, I must think too much..sigh..

good post Kel..


Kel said...

Thanks Ingrid. It does get me angry that we have even allowed it to come to this.

daveawayfromhome said...

Well, looks like it's time to break out the nuclear war and get us some winter. Maybe this was Bush's plan all along?

Kel said...

Wait a minute... there's a plan? Well, that took eight long years before he unveiled that!