Concern Over Catastrophic Methane Release — Overburden, Plumes, Eruptions, and Large Ocean Craters

The amount of methane in the Arctic hydrates alone is estimated as 400 times more than the global atmospheric CH4 burden. The question is timescale of the methane liberation: gradual, abrupt, or something in between. Satellite monitoring of methane over the Arctic Ocean is necessary. — Dr. Leonid Yerganov

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Depending on who you listen to, it’s the end of the world, or it isn’t. A loud and lively debate that springs up in the media every time a new sign of potential methane instability or apparent increasing emission from methane stores is reported by Arctic observational science.

On one side of this debate are those declaring the apocalypse is nigh due to, what they think, is an inevitable catastrophic methane release driven by an unprecedentedly rapid human warming of the Arctic. A release large enough to wipe out global human civilization. These doomsayers are fueled by a number of scientists (usually Arctic observational specialists) who continue to express concern — due to an increasing number of troubling, if not yet catastrophic, rumblings coming from the Arctic carbon store. The Arctic is warming faster than it ever has, they accurately note. And this very rapid rate of warming is putting unprecedented and dangerous stresses on carbon stores, including methane, that have lain dormant for many millions of years. The risk of catastrophic release, therefore, is high enough to sound the alarm.

On the other side are a number of mainstream news outlets backed up by a group of established scientists. This group claims that there’s generally no reason to worry about a methane apocalypse. The methane releases so far are relatively small (on the global scale) and there are all sorts of reasons why future releases will be moderate, slow in coming, and non-catastrophic. The methane store most pointed toward by methane catastrophists — a frozen water methane known as hydrate — tends to self-regulate release, in most cases, acting as a kind of pressure valve that would tend to moderate emission rates and prevent instances of catastrophic eruption (Please see The Long Thaw).

A third group appears to have somewhat sidestepped an otherwise polarized discourse. Outlets like ThinkProgress and others have continued to quietly report observations without drawing conclusions, one way or the other, on the issue of near term methane apocalypse. They point, instead, to what are, admittedly, some rather odd and scary methane rumblings going on near the pole. Among this ‘middle ground’ group are a survey of about 100 researchers who’ve identified a likely carbon release (including both methane and CO2) from the Arctic equaling between 10 and 35 percent of the human emission by the end of this Century (Please see High Risk of Permafrost Thaw). It is a ‘middle ground’ that is troubling enough. For 10-35 percent of the human carbon emission coming from the Arctic is a massive release in the range of 1 to 3.5 gigatons of carbon (with a fraction as volatile methane). If such an emission does materialize, it will equal (on the low end) or exceed the annual rate of environmental carbon release last seen during the PETM — a hothouse extinction 55 million years ago that turned the oceans into killers and forced life on land to shrink in size and burrow to avoid the awful heat and stifling atmosphere of that age.

Regardless of where you stand in this discourse, the Arctic itself continues to provide cause for both debate and appropriate concern.

Methane Overburden

Barrow Methane

(Barrow surface methane observations by NOAA ESRL show methane readings that range about 60 ppb above the global average. Note the 50 ppb increase over the past decade coincident with numerous ‘outlier’ spikes [green cross hatches] from local sources. Image source: NOAA ESRL.)

Perhaps the most obvious sign that there’s something not quite right going on in the Arctic is a large overburden of both methane and CO2 in the region. Looking at NOAA’s ESRL site, we find that methane levels at Barrow, Alaska (one of just a handful of Arctic sensor stations in the ESRL network) are in the range of 1910 parts per billion. By comparison, NOAA’s Mauna Loa Station, on the edge of the tropics and well away from the polar overburden, records about 1850 parts per billion (ppb).

At current rates of atmospheric methane increase, it will take about 9 years for Mauna Loa to catch up to where Barrow is now. But by that time Barrow may be pushing 1970 ppb or more. In addition, all Arctic stations record numerous anomalous spikes in methane from local sources. The ESRL site lists these spikes as outliers. But, for all the ESRL reporting stations, the Arctic stations are the ones that host by far the most numerous such outliers. The local methane sources, therefore, appear to be quite active in the Arctic. An observation that polar scientist, Dr Jason Box, admits keeps him awake at night.

AIRS_Methane

(Global distribution of methane averaged over 2011 by NASA/AIRS. Note the very high concentrations in the Arctic region. For this map, the highest concentrations occur in the Yedoma region of Russia, a region of multiplying methane emitting tundra melt and Thermokarst lakes [see below]. Image source: NASA/AIRS.)

Perhaps the most reliable way to sample the Arctic methane overburden is to get a full view of it through satellite sensors. The above NASA image taken in 2011 shows a massive methane overburden in the upper latitudes that slowly diffuses southward. Note the highest concentrations in this image are near the permafrost zones in Yedoma in northeastern Russia.

NOAA also provides its METOP array which frequently finds methane concentrations at above 2400 parts per billion at the 10,000 to 20,000 foot level in broad blankets over the Arctic region — especially in the months of September through November and then again in January. Again, these measures are the highest in any region of the globe and they occur directly over the Arctic.

Dr. Leonid Yurgonov uses the AIRS/AQUA satellite sensor to provide a record of Arctic methane overburden. One that is clearly visible here:

methane-jan21-31

In the above image we see methane measurements at the 18,000 foot altitude above the Arctic and upper latitudes. The progression is from January of 2009 (furthest left) to January of 2013 (furthest right). Orange coloration represents methane readings in the range of 1850 to 1950 parts per billion. Deep red coloration is in the range of 2000 parts per billion. Note the shift from blues and yellows (1700-1800 ppb) to oranges and reds (1850-2000 ppb) during the five years from 2009 to 2013.

So not only does the AIRS sensor show overburden, but it also finds methane build-up over the period measured.

These combined measures alone provide more than enough evidence of a methane overburden in the far northern region together with a rate of buildup that maintains the overburden and leads the global methane measure. Cause for enough concern among Arctic researchers that they have tended to make statements like this:

The amount of methane in the Arctic hydrates alone is estimated as 400 times more than the global atmospheric CH4 burden! The question is timescale of the methane liberation: gradual, abrupt, or something in between. Satellite monitoring of methane over the Arctic Ocean is necessary! — Dr. Leonid Yurganov, AGU, 2012

Steady Increase So Far

But even if we do have both a buildup of methane in the polar region together with what looks like an ominous overburden, we should be quick to point out that the rate of increase, especially on the global scale, has been mostly steady so far.

Under any catastrophic methane release scenario, we would expect Arctic methane to rapidly jump higher, dragging the global measure along with it. In general, we’d expect almost all sensors to pick up the signal of an exponentially ramping curve. And we don’t see that as yet.

To this point, Dr. Yurganov’s statement from the 2012 AGU presentation is informative:

Current methane growth in the Arctic, including 2012, is gradual… If a sudden venting (bubbling) of methane would happen due to intense hydrates destruction, IASI would be able to detect it NRT.

Though there has been a bit of an uptick in global and Arctic methane increase rates during recent years, they have maintained about a 4-7 ppb annual increase since ending a decade-long pause from 1995 to 2005.

It is worth noting, however, that the global methane measure increasing at an exponential rate would be a trailing measure indicator — occurring only in the wake of any catastrophic or large-scale release. So, as a predictor, the global methane measure isn’t very useful.

Thermokarst Lakes 

Which brings us to the key question — what are the leading indicators of major methane releases or of catastrophic releases of the kind some have feared?

Since we have never directly observed one, and since large-scale or catastrophic releases are merely theoretical at this time, we can only point toward evidence of past large scale releases, and an ongoing, but apparently growing, smaller scale release happening now.

The first such related observation may well have come in the form of an increasing methane emission from Thermokarst Lakes. Thermokarst Lakes form when sections of permafrost thaw and collapse, creating a depression. In wet regions, water soon pools within these hollows. Organic material at the bottom of the pool is provided by thawing permafrost. In the anaerobic lake bottom environment, methane is generated as the organic material is broken down.

Over recent years, this increasingly widespread Thermokarst thaw and formation has resulted in a number of Arctic ‘fire lakes’ popping up — lakes whose methane emission is so great that bubble concentrations are high enough to burn. During winter, these bubbles are trapped beneath ice and when released, create an explosive mixture.

Thermokarst Lake

(Methane production in a thermokarst lake. Image source: The Royal Society.)

From the 1970s through the mid 2000s, it is estimated that some regions of the Arctic experienced as much as a 58 percent increase in methane release due to Thermokarst Lake formation alone. An important measure since a number of studies found that Thermokarst Lake formation was one of the primary drivers of methane release from the Arctic at the end of the last ice age.

But as a catastrophic release driver, Thermokarst Lake formation is relatively mild, even if it is capable of pushing Arctic methane release levels higher. As such, the next indicator — a discovery of large methane releases from the ocean floor in the Arctic — was somewhat more concerning.

Oceanic Plumes

For as of 2011 an expedition to the East Siberian Arctic Shelf (ESAS) found massive plumes of methane as large as 1 kilometer across emitting from the shallow sea bed region off Northeastern Siberia. The researchers, Shakhova and Similetov, seemed very concerned that this might be a sign of a potential impending large scale release on the order of 1 to possibly 50 gigatons. The methane stores for the ESAS alone were massive — in the range of hundreds of gigatons. So even a fractionally small release from this source could be devastating. For reference, a 1 gigaton release would more than double the annual methane release from all global human and natural sources. A 5 gigaton release, on its own, would be enough to more than double atmospheric methane concentrations. And since methane traps heat more than 20 times as efficiently as CO2 over a century time-scale, such a release would result in far more rapid warming than previously predicted by scientific bodies such as the IPCC. A very rapid rate of warming that would be extraordinarily difficult for human civilizations to adapt to.

Of course this announcement set off amazing controversy. We couldn’t be certain what the source of this methane was, some said. Was it submerged permafrost methane? Was it hydrate? Was it free gas methane? And how could we be certain that this release hasn’t been ongoing for some time?

If such a methane release was building up to a catastrophic event, what mechanism would be the cause? In other words, how might gigatons of methane suddenly blow up from the sea bed?

arctic-methane-concentrations-sep-nov-2009-2012

(Lower troposphere methane concentrations over the Kara, Laptev, and East Siberian Seas during September-November of 2009-2012 shows overburden in active oceanic release zones. Image source: Dr. Leonid Yurganov).

This point is worth a bit of further exploration. The issue is that the most unstable form of methane when warmed is the methane hydrate store mentioned above. Methane hydrate is a frozen combination of gas methane and water. It crystallizes into a kind of fire ice under high pressure and in low temperature environments. It typically forms about 200-600 feet below the sea bed as methane bubbling up from warmer regions below contacts seawater, high pressure and cold. If the layer is warmed under human heat forcing, the hydrate thaws releasing its gas. The gas now becomes stored in pockets under high pressure. The gas below pushes against the sea bed above and some of it bubbles out (and these releases are found in the large plumes along the ESAS and elsewhere). But most of it, so far, has remained entombed.

What, then, could cause the large stores of entombed gas releasing from destabilizing hydrate, to break through hundreds of feet of seabed — hitting first ocean water and then atmosphere?

Over the past four years conjecture over this issue has raged on. Swelling at points when Shakhova and Similetov would make a new announcement and then ebbing as a wave of reassurances would rush in from scientific critics and mainstream media.

By summer of 2014 a discovery of new, large-scale plumes in the Laptev Sea by the SWERUS C3 expedition set off another wave of media speculation and controversy. But as the dust settled it became clear that the Laptev sea floor had been added to the list of methane hot spots in the Arctic, following in the footsteps of the ESAS region as an area to watch for potential increasing rates of release.

Tundra Blowholes

In nature, gasses under high and increasing pressure often find pathways for escape. Typically, the escape is gradual — we see this in volcanic regions in the release of magma gasses through cracks in the earth and through vent pathways. And sometimes the escape is far more violent — with hot volcanic gasses blowing away even hill or mountainsides in spontaneous eruption, or bubbling out, en mass, through volcanic lakes to spill toxic plumes over a countryside.

The gas source in question for Arctic methane release — hydrate — is very large. Even at the low end, it is estimated that hundreds of gigatons of the stuff lay buried beneath frozen tundra ground or in ocean stores beneath the seabed. A gigaton is one billion tons. A billion tons of frozen hydrate would cover roughly one cubic kilometer. One cubic kilometer of a flammable gas under high pressure.

And in the Arctic, hundreds of billions of tons lay under rapidly warming permafrost both on land and in the submerged seabed.

Permafrost and Gas Hydrate Methane

(Graphic of permafrost and gas hydrate methane by Carolyn Ruppel. Note that 75 percent of the ESAS sea floor is in the range of 50 meters in depth or shallower and that buried hydrate deposits can be found in the range of 200-300 feet. Image source: Methane Hydrates and Contemporary Climate Change.)

As of 2011, some scientists were warning that we were seeing a slow release from some of this submerged hydrate store in the ESAS. By 2014, the potential slow release had expanded into the Laptev Sea.

But that year, 2014, also saw something else. A potential catastrophic release of methane. For in the frozen region of Yamal, Russia the earth near a remote Siberian village began to destabilize. Soon after, according to eyewitness accounts, the area began to smoke. Then, with a bright flash, the ground erupted.

When the smoke cleared, a massive crater was found where only flat, frozen tundra was there before. A giant plug of frozen earth had been ejected violently. And all that remained was an ominous gray-black crater.

Yamal crater

(Yamal Crater as seen from the air. Image source: The Siberian Times.)

Researchers investigating the crater found 10 percent atmospheric methane concentrations at its base.

Overall, it was estimated that about 11 tons of TNT equivalent explosive force was enough to remove this 100+ foot wide and 220 foot deep plug from the Earth. Exploding and burning methane in the range of about 10 tons would have been enough to generate the crater. Gas under high pressure in the hundred + ton range may have been able to explosively excavate this hole.

As a result, the amount of methane in question for this single event was relatively small, especially when one considers the hundreds of billions of tons in the still frozen store.

It appeared that the rapidly warming Yamal territory and a broad region of nearby Northwestern Siberia may be seeing tundra warming extending deep enough to begin to destabilize pockets of relic hydrate. The hydrate in some of these pockets was beginning to thaw and catastrophically erupt to the surface.

By early 2015 a total of seven primary craters and scores of secondary craters of this kind had been discovered throughout this section of Siberia. Local Russian authorities were very concerned — moving seismographs into the area to monitor ground stability in a region that includes one of their largest natural gas developments.

A large upheaval of this kind in the wrong place would easily rupture a pipeline or destroy sections of a gas production operation. But the deeper irony was that continued gas production in this region was contributing to a problem that may well be making the ground far, far less stable and setting up the risk for even larger-scale eruptions.

For the Yamal crater wasn’t important due to the relative size of its methane release — the release was very small in the global context. A mere drop in an ocean of greenhouse gasses being emitted now by humans. It was important due to two other, and perhaps more stark, reasons.

The first was the very violent nature of its release — an eruption similar to that of a volcano — represented a severe geophysical upheaval that was all too likely triggered by a rapid human warming of the tundra. This kind of release, as the Russians in the region were quick to realize, represented a danger to both inhabitants and to infrastructure.

But the second reason is, perhaps, more important. It is the fact that the Yamal crater may well be evidence of the kind of mechanism for catastrophic methane release some of the more conservative scientists have been demanding. It’s possible, then, that the Yamal crater is in microcosm, what a truly catastrophic methane release might look like on the much larger scale. And the critical question to ask here is — could there be a connection between the methane blowholes we are now observing in the Arctic and a number of mysterious and gigantic craters discovered on the sea bed around the world?

Giant Craters on the Seabed

In 2013, marine geophysicist Dr Bryan Davy from GNS Science found what may be the world’s largest gas eruption craters on the seafloor about 310 miles east of Christchurch, New Zealand.

The craters, which the researchers called ‘pockmarks,’ formed in an active gas zone along the ocean bottom. They measured from 250 meters to 7 miles in diameter and about 300 feet deep. With the largest crater able to encompass all of lower Manhattan.

Giant Craters in the Seafloor off Christchurch New Zealand

(Giant craters off Christchurch New Zealand are thought to have formed due to large gas eruptions during previous episodes of sea bed warming. Could human warming set be setting off something similar for the Arctic? Image source: Mysterious Giant Crater Like Structure Found Near New Zealand.)

The craters are thought to have formed during ice ages when sea levels lowered off New Zealand causing the sea bed to warm and gas hydrate to thaw. Eventually, the gas is thought to have erupted into the surrounding water with a portion bubbling up into the atmosphere.

GEOMAR seismic records indicated active gas pockets beneath the crater zones. Dr Joerg Bialas, a GEOMAR scientist noted:

Gas release from the larger pockmarks may have been sudden and possibly even violent, with a massive volume being expelled into the ocean and atmosphere within hours or days.

The 300 foot depth of the craters touched the hydrate stability zone even as their large size indicated that massive pockets of the gas lifted away large sections of sea bed suddenly and violently. It’s the kind of rapid destabilized gas release that may well represent a worst-case Arctic warming scenario.

Cause for Appropriate Concern

So the question must be asked — is the Yamal crater physical validation of a catastrophic methane hydrate release mechanism that has circulated, as theory, through the geophysical sciences for decades? One that involves large eruptions that displace massive sections of earth and seabed during a violent release process. Are the Siberian methane blowholes smaller examples of what can happen on a much greater scale? And does the methane overburden in the Arctic, the documented increasing Thermokarst Lake release, the sea bed methane release in the Laptev and ESAS, and the new formation of methane blow holes in Yamal in the context of a rapidly warming Arctic tundra and sea bed (seeing unprecedented rates of warming) represent a growing risk for this kind of release?

Under even a ‘moderate’ 1 to 3.5 gigaton Arctic carbon release rate by end century given by the survey of 100 Arctic scientists, there will likely be more than enough potential freed methane to include large scale catastrophic releases similar to the kind seen off New Zealand and elsewhere (250 meter to 7 mile wide cratering events).

In this context, the issue is not one of ‘apocalypse now’ or ‘apocalypse not.’ That framing is all wrong. This issue is one of how much or how little geophysical upheaval and related methane release we will see — and how soon. One of how rapidly humans can stop making the situation even worse, by drawing down their own catastrophic emission rates as rapidly as possible.

There is, therefore, more than enough cause for appropriate concern and continued monitoring of what appears to be an ongoing destabilization of Arctic carbon stores — large enough to represent a variety of hazards both terrestrial and atmospheric.

Links:

High Risk of Permafrost Thaw

NOAA ESRL

NASA/AIRS

The Royal Society

Yedoma Thermokarst Lake Formation Increases Tundra Methane Release by 58 Percent

Methane Hydrates and Contemporary Climate Change

The Siberian Times

Meltfactor: Dragon’s Breath Hypothesis

AGU 2012 Meeting: Atmospheric Methane Over The Arctic Ocean

Mysterious Giant Crater Like Structure Found Near New Zealand

Scientific hat tips to Dr. Leonid Yerganov, Dr. Gavin Schmidt, Dr. David Archer, Dr. Igor Semiletov, Dr. Natalia Shakhova, Dr. Carolyn Ruppel, Dr. Jason Box, Dr. Peter Wadhams, Dr. Bryan Davy, Dr Joerg Bialas, SWERUS C3, GEOMAR and The Russian Center of Arctic Exploration

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202 Comments

  1. Robert In New Orleans

     /  March 9, 2015

    Most excellent post Mr. Scribbler!

    Reply
    • Cheers, Robert! Quite a few hours spent putting this one together…

      Reply
      • Superbly well crafted and easy to understand, Robert. All of the pieces — graphics, data, summaries, etc. fit together. This is serious stuff too.

        I know that it’s an emotional dichotomy when a successful effort means adequately describing something that can have terrible consequences for so many. And, so much of what endangers us today, should be preventable.

        Thank you, and keep kicking ass.
        DT

        Reply
      • rustj2015

         /  March 9, 2015

        With dtlange, thank you for your dispassionate care and thought, for your teaching.
        Keep on keepin’ on!

        Reply
      • Cheers, DT and RJ. Will do my best for you guys! I don’t feel dispassionate😉 and I can’t tell you how much I don’t want stuff like this to really emerge…

        Reply
  2. pcp82

     /  March 9, 2015

    an excellent piece. I was unaware of the possible connection to the features on the floor of the ocean.

    i watch with morbid curiosity what the summer will bring.

    Reply
    • eric smith

       /  March 10, 2015

      I too was unaware of these large craters. But to me its the last nail in the coffin. When I first heard of the Siberian Shelf 1km plume some years ago I fell into a very significant depression and personal crisis for a couple of days. My rational mind AND intuition told me it was over. The vast majority, if not all of us, will not survive our foolish actions forced on us by a cabal of devils.

      Reply
  3. Germ

     /  March 9, 2015

    ” … mainstream news outlets backed up by a group of established scientists”

    Those would be the ones that told us that smoking was good for us, that glyphosphate is harmless to humans, that GMO food is no different to nonGMO food and that there’s no benefit in eating organic food.

    Game over – http://www.worldometers.info/cars/

    Reply
    • Not true. There are mainstream scientists well aware of how harmful global warming is that remain skeptical over the issue of near term, large scale methane release. Climate change deniers, which I haven’t included mention of in this article, are completely dismissive of any Arctic carbon feedback due to human warming which is beyond the skepticism of even the most conservative scientists. Deniers still think the blow holes are pingos for no other reason than that it is convienant for them to think so.

      Reply
      • jai mitchell

         /  March 10, 2015

        excellent article but for two brief comments, since you mentioned pingos above I chose to reply here:

        1. The reason I believe these are pingos and not “blowouts” is due to the smoothness of the crater walls, it is clear that this cavity was first produced by the expansion of an ice plug, which later melted. However, the final opening of the crater appears to be due to methane pressure from thermal expansion so there is definitely a warming and methane factor, though not necessarily a major clathrate destabilization.

        2. the assertion of deep ocean clathrates being at risk does not play out due to long-term warming rates of the deep ocean and the pressure/temp destabilization curve of clathrates. The most significant (and really only valid) ocean floor clathrate concern is in the ESAS where 30 foot depth profiles and radical summer ocean warming that will occur over the next 50 years as we move to a full summer and eventual perennial sea ice free state.

        Reply
    • eleggua

       /  March 9, 2015

      Life is not a game, Germ. PYSKE!

      Reply
  4. eleggua

     /  March 9, 2015

    Phenomenal article, Robert; extremely well written. Amazing distillation of what was obviously an enormous amount of research.

    Reply
    • Cheers, E-man. This one was a marker I had to put out. We need to be looking at these blow holes as catastrophic release mechanisms in the context of what that means for both potential future methane release and potential geophysical changes in the Arctic.

      Reply
  5. eleggua

     /  March 9, 2015

    ‘First evidence of widespread active methane seepage in the Southern Ocean, off the sub-Antarctic island of South Georgia’ September 2, 2014
    http://www.green4sea.com/expedition-discovers-greenhouse-gases-in-the-southern-ocean/
    During an expedition with the German research vessel Polarsternoff the sub-Antarctic island of South Georgia, an international team of scientists discovered more than 130 active methane seeps at the seafloor….

    “On the echograms the methane bubbles emanating from the seafloor appear as thin flares, some of which rise up to 25 meters below the sea surface“, says MARUM researcher Miriam Römer, first author of the recently published paper. “In water depths between 130 and 390 meters we identified a total of 133 methane flares, more than half of them located in the Cumberland Bay.” On the average these flares were 70 meters high. However, the highest vertically rising flare reached a height of 220 meters….

    “In the Cumberland Bay, the gas-bubble plumes do not reach the upper water layers or the atmosphere, and thus our first assessment suggests that these plumes may not contribute to the greenhouse effect“, says expedition member Marta Torres, professor of oceanography at the College of Earth Ocean and Atmospheric Science at Oregon State University. “Another difference to note is that the methane plumes off Svalbard are thought to result from dissociation of methane hydrates, which is not the case off South Georgia. The methane seeps we discovered lie under less than 400 meters of water, whereas deeper waters, such as the ones off Svalbard, are needed to stabilize the methane hydrate structure.“…

    The new findings off South Georgia add to a long and steadily growing list of known methane seep areas in the world`s oceans. The research team is already planning another expedition into Antarctic waters, as many research questions remain unresolved: “Methane seeps out irregularly and episodically, a process which might be influenced by tides, storms, earthquakes, and other parameters“, says Miriam Römer. “We still have quite a long way to go before we will be able to present a methane balance quantifying regional seepage.“

    Reply
    • eleggua

       /  March 9, 2015

      Earth and Planetary Science Letters
      Volume 403, 1 October 2014, Pages 166–177 http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0012821X1400421X Abstract
      An extensive submarine cold-seep area was discovered on the northern shelf of South Georgia during R/V Polarstern cruise ANT-XXIX/4 in spring 2013. Hydroacoustic surveys documented the presence of 133 gas bubble emissions, which were restricted to glacially-formed fjords and troughs. Video-based sea floor observations confirmed the sea floor origin of the gas emissions and spatially related microbial mats. Effective methane transport from these emissions into the hydrosphere was proven by relative enrichments of dissolved methane in near-bottom waters. Stable carbon isotopic signatures pointed to a predominant microbial methane formation, presumably based on high organic matter sedimentation in this region. Although known from many continental margins in the world’s oceans, this is the first report of an active area of methane seepage in the Southern Ocean. Our finding of substantial methane emission related to a trough and fjord system, a topographical setting that exists commonly in glacially-affected areas, opens up the possibility that methane seepage is a more widespread phenomenon in polar and sub-polar regions than previously thought.

      Reply
      • This is at the depth where new warming is evident. Worth keeping an eye on it.

        Reply
      • Robert In New Orleans

         /  March 9, 2015

        I am concerned about the seeps that we know about and I am even more concerned about the seeps that we do not know about.

        Does anyone know of or about a systemic world wide search for these seeps?

        Reply
      • eleggua

         /  March 9, 2015

        Nothing specific located as yet, however it’s likely the persons/groups searching at this time are interesting in explotation rather than research toward solving a crisis circumstance.

        http://energy.gov/fe/science-innovation/oil-gas-research/methane-hydrate
        While global estimates vary considerably, the energy content of methane occurring in hydrate form is immense, possibly exceeding the combined energy content of all other known fossil fuels. However, future production volumes are speculative because methane production from hydrate has not been documented beyond small-scale field experiments.

        The U.S. Department of Energy methane hydrate program aims to develop the tools and technologies to allow environmentally safe methane production from arctic and domestic offshore hydrates. The program includes R&D in:
        >>>>>Production Feasibility: Methane hydrates occur in large quantities beneath the permafrost and offshore, on and below the seafloor. DOE R&D is focused on determining the potential and environmental implications of production of natural gas from hydrates.
        >>>>>>Research and Modeling: DOE is studying innovative ways to predict the location and concentration of subsurface methane hydrate before drilling. DOE is also conducting studies to understand the physical properties of gas hydrate-bearing strata and to model this understanding at reservoir scale to predict future behavior and production.
        >>>>>Climate Change: DOE is studying the role of methane hydrate formation and dissociation in the global carbon cycle. Another aspect of this research is incorporating GH science into climate models to understand the relationship between global warming and methane hydrates.
        >>>>>>International Collaboration: International collaboration continues to be a vital part of the program since gas hydrates represent research challenges and resource potential that are important on a global scale.

        Reply
  6. Kevin Jones

     /  March 9, 2015

    Worthy of a major journalism award, Robert.

    Reply
    • Thx, Kevin. Didn’t really care for the current framing. That GEOMAR research has avoided scrutiny for some time now. Given the multiplication of blow holes, I thought that now might be the time to bring up possible connections.

      Reply
  7. Loni

     /  March 9, 2015

    Robert, as always, an exceptional piece of work. If I may, I would like to forward this to my facebook page with your approval.

    Yesterday a fellow posted on a site a recent interview with Dr.’s Shakhova and Semiletov, however it was Natalia who did all of the talking except for one interruption by Igor when she said regarding the chances of a large methane venting, “we are talking not in hundreds of years, but decades, maybe one to two…” at which point Igor said “anytime”. Natalia mentioned seismic action as being a possible triggering mechanism for a large release, and noted that there had been increased seismic activity in the ESAS area.

    I’ve read that there were basically two types of methane, one the organic type, but the other is a mantle methane, formed chemically, and at much deeper depths. Do I understand that correctly? Is it the mantle methane that holds such huge stores of methane gas?

    Again, thank you for all of your time and efforts in forwarding this cause. I’m doing my best to get you a larger audience, and if I can post this and use it in presentations, crediting you and the other contributors, that would help me. But as I said, at your pleasure.

    Reply
    • Please feel free, Loni.

      Well, most think that all methane has an organic origin (and is not abiogenic). However, the newer organic methane forms in shallower soils under anaerobic conditions. But some methane was trapped deep long ago through subduction and cycles back through up thrust or development of new fissures in the Earth. Often these form into pockets or domes.

      Both thick, organic soil layers and deeper rock can hold very large stores of methane. The kind of methane oil and gas explorers typically go for is deeper rock deposit methane as it tends to form in the largest and most easily identifiable pockets. Hydrate can result from mantle methane seeps or from newer organic methane that’s sequestered over time. P/E explorers typically avoid hydrate due to its instability.

      Thank you so much for your kind efforts, Loni. Please feel free to ask any more questions or let me know if I can help in any way.

      Reply
  8. Reblogged this on The Secular Jurist and commented:
    “But the second reason is, perhaps, more important. It is the fact that the Yamal crater may well be evidence of the kind of mechanism for catastrophic methane release some of the more conservative scientists have been demanding. It’s possible, then, that the Yamal crater is in microcosm, what a truly catastrophic methane release might look like on the much larger scale. And the critical question to ask here is — could there be a connection between the methane blowholes we are now observing in the Arctic and a number of mysterious and gigantic craters discovered on the sea bed around the world?”

    Reply
  9. wili

     /  March 9, 2015

    Thanks for another thoughtful and timely post.
    I linked to this over at RealClimate. Maybe we’ll get a response from Gavin himself.
    Meanwhile, here’s a related article: http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2015-03/uoc–mia030415.php
    “Methane in Arctic lake traced to groundwater from seasonal thawing:

    Groundwater from seasonal melting may be an important contributor to emissions of methane, a potent greenhouse gas, from Arctic lakes

    Reply
    • Thanks for this wili… In hopes of a better discourse…

      In any case, fantastic article. More quotes that I found helpful:

      “Global warming may ramp up the flow of methane from groundwater into Arctic lakes, allowing more of the potent greenhouse gas to bubble out into the atmosphere, according to a new study led by researchers at UC Santa Cruz… This is important because warming in the Arctic may expand the active layer and increase the discharge, leading to increased emissions from Arctic lakes and driving additional global warming.”

      Reply
  10. Dave Person

     /  March 9, 2015

    Hi Robert,
    You did an exceptional job organizing a lot of information into a well presented summary of the big picture. Those skills are paramount in keeping all of us from viewing the world through a very narrow scope of our own parochial experiences, observations, and interests. Well done.

    dave

    dave

    Reply
  11. Kevin Jones

     /  March 9, 2015

    Thanks for linking to RealClimate, wili. I’d really, really like to hear Archer’s (of The Long Thaw) response. I’ll check for their response.

    Reply
  12. climatehawk1

     /  March 9, 2015

    Thanks for the nice overview. Tweet scheduled.

    Reply
  13. Griffin

     /  March 9, 2015

    Robert, this is so much more than a blog post. It really is a fine piece of work that will leave us all thinking for quite some time. Thank you for taking your time to put all of this together and communicating it to us in your outstanding fashion.
    If I may ask a question, I am curious as to the mechanism for sea floor heat transfer to the hydrate zone in a shallow sea such as the ESAS. If the hydrates in a shallow sea are below permafrost that lies under the sea floor, how does the heat reach down through the permafrost to warm the hydrate zone? Are some hydrates found much shallower, under less permafrost?

    Reply
    • The issue is that warming sea water thaws the submerged permafrost in much the same manner than warming air thaws the land based permafrost. Water temperature doesn’t need to change as much as air temperature due to its higher proportional heat content. Because the permafrost is frozen, the hydrate stability zone is thought to be shallower in cases. In other cases, thaw creates fissures to the deeper zone which may develop pockets further up in the bed layers as the disassociated gas forms pathways.

      Reply
      • Griffin

         /  March 9, 2015

        Thank you very much for explaining this! Now I have an understanding of how it can happen on land, (as we previously discussed) and in the sea.

        Reply
    • wili

       /  March 9, 2015

      As I understand it, this is exactly the area where the main differences exist between what I’ll call the modelers (Archer, Schmidt and others) and the ‘observational specialists’ (as rs aptly calls them, folks like Wadhams, Shakhova, Semiletov and others). The former say that the hydrates are too deep for heat to penetrate quickly enough to cause massive off gassing. The latter are saying, basically, well, whatever the mechanism, we are already seeing areas of massive off gassing.

      What we need are more discussions like rs’s above that don’t immediately dismiss one side or the other, but try to form a dialogue between the two positions, even if those that hold them (and many of their followers) don’t always seem ready to have such a sober, reasoned discussion.

      Reply
      • eleggua

         /  March 9, 2015

        Well said, wili.

        What we need are more discussions like rs’s above that don’t immediately dismiss one side or the other, but try to form a dialogue between the two positions, even if those that hold them (and many of their followers) don’t always seem ready to have such a sober, reasoned discussion.

        Reply
      • I attended the Royal Society event in Sept 2014.

        Gavin Schmidt spoke, as you can hear here: Dr Gavin Schmidt (NASA):

        Atmospheric composition and radiative impacts of Arctic sea ice loss

        Audio recording http://downloads.royalsociety.org/events/2014/arctic-sea-ice/schmidt.mp3

        This was “storified” here: http://mallemaroking.org/gavinschmidtrsarctic14

        Schmidt did cause a kerfuffle by tweeting rather derisively about Peter Wadhams presentation the previous day, but hopefully that silly matter is now behind everyone.

        His analysis, all the same, is worth listening to.

        Reply
    • Griff, I’d just like to add that there’s still quite a lot that’s not known and I can only comment on what I recollect from various paper/reports. Pretty much everyone expects an increased emission due to human warming of the Arctic. The issue is the rate at which those emissions may increase and how that may happen.

      Reply
      • Griffin

         /  March 9, 2015

        Thanks Robert, I understand the complexity of the situation, I appreciate you explaining the various hypotheses of warming the hydrates. I knew that there were certain aspects of the sea floor processes that I just didn’t understand. Just like the surface water trickling down on the Yamal, it really starts to make sense when you explain it.

        Reply
  14. eleggua

     /  March 9, 2015

    Robert, just sent you an email regarding a possible appearance on public radio station KPFA.
    Hope that works out.

    Reply
  15. eleggua

     /  March 9, 2015

    ‘Warming Could Hit Rates Unseen in 1,000 Years’ March 9th, 2015
    http://www.climatecentral.org/news/warming-rates-unseen-in-1000-years-18745
    We are standing on the edge of a new world where warming is poised to accelerate at rates unseen for at least 1,000 years.
    That’s the main finding of a paper published Monday in Nature Climate Change, which looked at the rate of temperature change over 40-year periods. The new research also shows that the Arctic, North America and Europe will be the first regions to transition to a new climate, underscoring the urgent need for adaptation planning.

    “Essentially the world is entering a new regime where what is normal is going to continue to change and it’s changing at a rate than natural processes might not be able to keep up with,” Steven Smith, a researcher at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, said……

    Reply
  16. Robert, can you say from which of your links this information came? “in the frozen region of Yamal, Russia the ground near a remote Siberian village began to shake and bulge. Soon after, according to eyewitness accounts, the area began to smoke. Then, with a flash and a thunderous boom, the ground erupted.” I realize you put a lot of time into your summaries of research, but I for one would really appreciate if you could footnote which source you are referring to when you repeat information, I often have to scour the links to find it! Thanks again for another terrific summation.

    Reply
  17. eleggua

     /  March 9, 2015

    ‘Yamal peninsula: The world’s biggest gas reserves ‘ 20 October 2009; last modified on Wednesday 11 June 2014
    http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2009/oct/20/yamal-gas-reserves
    The Yamal peninsula in Arctic Russia contains the biggest gas reserves on the planet. Their exploitation will release millions of tonnes of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere and, on the peninsula itself, pose a grave threat to the Nenets reindeer herders and their ancient way of life….
    …Reindeer have already broken legs crossing a new railway line that Gazprom is building across the tundra to its new Bovanenkovo plant. And 160 reindeer herders have already been evicted from their pastures….
    …Where there was once tundra – covered in aromatic lavender tea shrubs and the scarlet Arctous plant – there is now concrete and pipelines imported from Japan. …
    …Nobody expects any of the billions of dollars generated by Yamal’s stupendous gas reserves to go to the Nenets. Currently, each reindeer herder receives a meagre 2,000 rouble (£40) subsidy every month. It is enough to buy a single barrel of heating oil during the winter season…..

    Reply
  18. wili

     /  March 9, 2015

    From the paragraph just above ‘Tundra Blowholes’: “…the SWERUS C3 expedition set off another wave of media speculation and controversy. But as the dust settled it became clear that the Laptev sea floor had been added to the list of methane hot spots in the Arctic…”
    Cid Yama at POForums (who seems to have been following these things pretty closely) pointed out that SWERUS C3 actually was looking not at the main seafloor of the Laptev but specifically at the _continental slope_ at the north side of that sea. This seems to be borne out by the second sentence in the following report: http://www.swerus-c3.geo.su.se/index.php/martins-blog-leg2/299-mapping-coring-and-oceanographic-station-work-in-light-ice-and-gale-force-wind

    Maybe they sampled elsewhere in the Laptev, but I couldn’t find anything about it; but I didn’t myself follow the daily movements of this expedition very closely.

    Reply
  19. james cole

     /  March 9, 2015

    Robert’s post on this subject reminds me of the type of great articles on various science subjects that used to appear in “Scientific American” back in the 80’s and 90’s. Very logically laid out with charts and graphs, a steady progression of information, data and conclusions.
    So hats off for the great writing style and presentation of information in it’s most logical form!
    I know all about the three different approaches to methane. I have read the alarmist camp’s presentations and conclusions of imminent disaster brewing. They seem to be acting in good faith, or at least I hope so. The middle ground is where I firmly stand. It is natural that with the unprecedented arctic warming, and the now wide spread warming of ocean waters around the globe, that methane in some amount would begin to unlock from it’s frozen state. The plumes up in the Russian arctic seas really did ring my alarm bell, as I know the Russian Science Community has it’s own global warming denial bias built into the giant energy producing nation’s political scene. Oddly enough, some of the scientists now acknowledge the pressure was there all along, but is now falling away as facts can not be disputed. The third camp, with so many really solid scientists and the familiar media and political camp that wants to downplay this threat. I think they are letting outside influence determine too much of what they present to the public.
    I think methane is going to be just one more nail in the coffin, not THE nail. After all, CO2 alone is doing it’s job. Methane is now a feed back to more warming, something we don’t need at any level. But lets be honest, we humans do not know how this vast store of methane is going to react. It is clear, isn’t it, that we are going to continue the CO2 production and take today’s warming to a new level, and SOON.

    Reply
    • eleggua

       /  March 10, 2015

      “It is clear, isn’t it, that we are going to continue the CO2 production and take today’s warming to a new level, and SOON.”

      Possibly. Probably. But please dispell the coffin notion. That line of thinking, that perspective, impedes progress toward solutions, toward survival.

      PSYKE

      Reply
  20. Phil

     /  March 10, 2015

    Has any more reports and results from the SWERUS C3 expedition been released or published apart from the initial reports about the methane findings in the Laptev sea? I cannot recall seeing anything else being reported to-date, although I have not done any exhaustive searches for other findings?

    Reply
    • Not yet. I contacted them by email late least year and they said reports/findings were due out by this year sometime. Probably mid year. Come late spring, I’ll start sending out feelers again.

      Reply
  21. I don’t really consider the Daily Mail to be a credible source of science, so I would still like to know the source for in the original post for this portion of the post: “in the frozen region of Yamal, Russia the ground near a remote Siberian village began to shake and bulge. Soon after, according to eyewitness accounts, the area began to smoke. Then, with a flash and a thunderous boom, the ground erupted.”

    Reply
    • The source is eyewitness reports from the Taz Dristrict as given by The Siberian Times:

      http://siberiantimes.com/science/casestudy/news/now-two-new-large-holes-appear-in-siberia/

      Have edited the initial statement for clairity and included the source as hyperlink in text.

      Reply
    • The Daily Mail re-reported the initial instance. I’d say the eyewitness reports as given are certainly relevant in the overall context, as we have no reason to cast aspersions on the reports at this time.

      Reply
      • climatehawk1

         /  March 10, 2015

        I think the Daily Mail is pretty good on standard news reporting. The anti-science pieces are usually easy to spot.

        Reply
      • eleggua

         /  March 10, 2015

        Agreed. Daily Mail pieces usually contain a lot more info than articles from other media sources, plus all of the info the others cover. Their articles on the holes were the most comprehensive that I found online.


        Picture (credit): Local residents

        The herders almost fell into the hole which lies on a pasturing route. They took pictures of the hole which were sent to scientists at the Norilsk Taimyr Explorers’ Club.

        Reply
  22. Colorado Bob

     /  March 10, 2015

    RS _
    As always another job well done.

    Daily chart
    Drought in São Paulo
    Flows into the Cantareira reservoir system, São Paulo, Brazil

    Cubic metres per second

    Ten driest years since 1930:1944 1953 1955 1964 1969 2001 2003 2012 2013 2014

    http://www.economist.com/blogs/graphicdetail/2015/03/sao-paulo-drought

    Reply
    • That is pretty amazingly brutal, Bob. Glad to see MSM picking this up more and more. There’s been quite a flurry of late.

      Reply
    • eleggua

       /  March 10, 2015

      From ^that article:
      Because of deforestation, rainwater once captured by trees and funnelled into reservoirs now disappears into the soil. As a result, despite above-average rainfall, inflows into the system were below February’s long-term mean. Some 30,000 trees need to be planted to undo the damage, experts reckon.

      30,000 seems very low. Typo?

      Reply
  23. Colorado Bob

     /  March 10, 2015

    When It Comes to Weather Losses, Persistence Is the Problem: Munich Re

    Changes in the pattern of the jet stream are halting severe weather patterns for days, or even weeks, and increasing the likelihood that large loss events will occur, according to a report released by Munich Re on Tuesday.

    Intense flood events, longer crop-destroying droughts and more destructive winter storms are the most likely outcome as severe weather systems stall over regions rather than being quickly moved out by an ever weakening jet stream, the German reinsurance firm says.

    “[The pattern] is reducing the differences in temperature and pressure between high latitudes and mid-latitudes, with the result that more frequent quasi-stationary weather patterns occur, “ the report published by Munich Re’s Topic GEO said. “Under such conditions, heat or drought and rain can assume extreme forms.”

    http://riskmarketnews.com/when-it-comes-to-weather-losses-persistence-is-the-problem-munich-re/

    Reply
  24. I must admit I find the whole ‘catastrophic release’ narrative rather over-egged. Just like a Bruce Willis movie where a single event can kill off the planet…

    The ‘slow’ release of methane will be quite enough to kill us all off over time but, like catastrophic sea level rise, its not going to happen within the lifetime of our species anyway…

    The rising temperatures, wobbly Jetstream disrupting seasons and the resultant crash in food production will be the first of many interlocking crises that will do us in.

    Especially as we’ll be losing the Arctic Ice Cap in summer within the next five years… That’s a lot of cooling that’s going away.

    We’ve already destroyed half of all terrestrial life in just 30 years – well before the effects of climate change really kicked in – and that was a dreadfully low baseline to start with. We’ve been a major driver of extinction for as long as we’ve been around as a species.

    I don’t honestly see how we’re going to refreeze the arctic, stop population growth and produce enough for the people we’ve currently got. And hungry people generally get violent.

    Extinction with dignity anyone…

    Reply
    • Yes, Jeff Poole, I must keep my dignity.
      As I will offer comfort when I can, just as I will rage and rail against the dying of life.
      Peace

      Reply
    • eleggua

       /  March 10, 2015

      “The ‘slow’ release of methane will be quite enough to kill us all off over time but, like catastrophic sea level rise, its not going to happen within the lifetime of our species anyway…”

      Both have a potential to occur in this lifetime, should you not get hit by a bus or struck by lightning first. Within a few months or so we’ll be reading studies/papers that credibly posit the potential of both to occur soon.

      “We’ve been a major driver of extinction for as long as we’ve been around as a species.

      Not all of ‘we’. Many have lived and worked for the opposite: creation of life and protection of life. Life out of balance can be brought back into balance.

      Reply
  25. Colorado Bob

     /  March 10, 2015

    Storm in Italy May Have Set New World Record for 24-Hour Snowfall

    It’s possible a long-standing world snowfall record from the 1920s may have been broken in Italy last week.

    According to Meteoweb.eu, 256 centimeters (100.8 inches) of snow was measured in about an 18-hour period in the town of Capracotta, Italy, on Thursday, March 5, 2015. Capracotta (population about 1,000) is located about 90 miles east of central Rome in the Apennine Mountains, at an elevation of 4,662 feet (1,421 meters) above sea level.

    The village of Pescocostanzo also picked up 240 centimeters (94.5 inches), or almost 8 feet of snow, last Thursday, according to Meteoweb.eu.

    “That would be maintaining a rate of around 5 inches of snow per hour for 18 hours,” says senior meteorologist, Tom Moore.
    http://www.weather.com/storms/winter/news/world-snow-record-italy-24-hour-march-2015

    Reply
    • 8 feet in one day? Outlandish…

      Reply
    • Ralph

       /  March 10, 2015

      A nice pair of depressions, one each side of the equator: http://earth.nullschool.net/#2015/03/10/0300Z/wind/surface/level/orthographic, pushing string equatorial westerlies north-east of New Guinea.
      That should give a fair kick in the tail to the already-decent-size Kelvin wave currently going across the pacific.
      Current El Nino is predicted to be weak, but also it is the most unpredictable time of year; best to keep an eye on this one I think.

      Reply
      • Good report, Ralph.

        Have been getting captures of what appears to be a classic and rather strong WWB with gale force winds running between the lows. That Kelvin wave is starting to show deltas in the +5-6 C range in spots. Subsurface anomalies on the rise overall.

        Definitely something to watch.

        Reply
  26. (Bloomberg) — The world’s oldest mummies are at risk of disappearing because of man-made climate change, according to a group of Harvard University scientists.

    Bodies mummified about 7,000 years ago in Chile are starting to rapidly degrade, the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences said Monday in an e-mailed statement. Tests by Harvard’s Alice DeAraujo and Ralph Mitchell show that microbes that flourish in an increasingly humid climate are turning the preserved remains of Chinchorro hunter-gatherers into “black ooze.”

    … While museums can control their environments to preserve artefacts, many Chinchorro mummies are buried just beneath the surface in valleys that are experiencing higher humidity levels due to climate change…

    http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-03-09/ancient-mummies-turn-into-black-ooze-because-of-climate-change

    Reply
  27. eleggua

     /  March 10, 2015

    ‘Whale of a time being had on Monterey Bay’ by Tom Stienstra March 7, 2015 http://www.sfchronicle.com/outdoors/article/Whale-of-a-time-being-had-on-Monterey-Bay-6121156.php
    …“It’s unheard of,” said Dorris Welch, a marine biologist for Sanctuary Cruises. “Our historical records come from whaling ships that go back to the late 1700s. Going back more than 200 years, no whale records exist that show humpbacks wintering in Monterey Bay.
    “In my entire life here, working on the bay, to see this now is a phenomenon.”

    It felt like Hawaii. At 10 a.m., the air temperature was already 70 degrees, with an azure sky and calm seas extending across Monterey Bay. From a kayak or boat, with 15 to 20 feet of clarity, you could look down into the water and watch murres and dolphins feed on anchovies, and see the sun reflect off the sides of the whales.
    The water was warm, too, for March — 60 degrees as the old sea continues its El Niño trend.
    “From the jetty at the mouth of the harbor, you can stand and watch what hasn’t been seen this time of year in recorded history,”…

    …Last week, a migrating gray whale was also seen joining a pod of six humpbacks in a feeding frenzy, right outside the Moss Landing Harbor entrance.
    “It went on for more than an hour,” Welch said. “I’ve never seen that before, a gray whale and humpbacks feeding together, and I can’t find records of that ever happening.”
    Another anomaly involves large numbers of long-beaked common dolphins feeding with the whales.
    “It’s very unusual to see the dolphins feeding right alongside the whales for long durations,” Welch said. “We had more common dolphins here this winter than we’ve seen in Monterey Bay in the past five years.”…

    …On one trip, I was paddling toward some spouts several miles away when a superpod of dolphins started vaulting on my right. A moment later, three humpbacks emerged on my left, so close I could smell their breath from their blowholes. Thousands of pinhead anchovies were suddenly all around me. I took my paddle out of the water and found myself floating amid the scene, euphoric to be so lucky to be alive on this planet.

    Reply
  28. eleggua

     /  March 10, 2015

    Hydrocarbons and Permafrost in the Yamal Peninsula

    Reply
  29. -dtlange2 post:

    The view of an altered sky and atmosphere above Portland, Oregon, USA

    As the Arctic warms under a broken jet stream I took a series of photos in early March of the sky and atmosphere above the Pacific Northwest. The contrails from these high altitude planes are mostly south to north.

    Most photos show commercial airliners plying the sky, as they create a dense mush of artificial cloud cover.

    These are juxtaposed these with a very weak jet stream and a lower and upper atmosphere full of moisture and particulate pollution.
    https://dtlange2.wordpress.com/2015/03/09/the-view-of-an-altered-sky-and-atmosphere-above-portland-oregon-usa/

    Reply
    • Great shots, DT.

      Reply
      • Thanks, Robert,🙂
        Someone commented about “chemtrails” so I had to get tough with them with this reply:

        Everyone, listen up. “Chemtrails” are a fabricated term likely invented by insidious creeps to be used by well meaning bauble heads. No offense, but it’s true. Condensation of water vapor and fossil fuel combustion from aircraft cause these contrails to form.
        Of concern, are the sheer number of them, and the fact that the jet stream has been crippled by the warming Arctic which has been zapped by the burning of fossil fuels. If you want to attach “chem” is cto these trails just go decant a pint, or pond (measured in lbs for aircraft weight totals, and close to being a liquid pint — if I remember right) of kerosene which most jet fuel, or JP, is like.
        Do yourselves and constructive dialogue a big favor, and excise “chemtrails” from your vocabulary.
        Otherwise, bauble on — but stay out of the sky.
        DT

        Reply
      • eleggua

         /  March 10, 2015

        Q: Would you ever support an independent investigation to prove or disprove the existence of chemtrails?

        A: Mick West, excellent debunker of chemtrail nonsense:
        You can’t disprove them. You can only show there’s no evidence. How, for example would you have an independent investigation to disprove the existence of unicorns?

        If there was some evidence that they existed, then I’d certainly support an investigation. But why would someone pay to investigate something for which there is no evidence of existence?

        Reply
      • No, eleggua. Putting aside attempts at cloud seeding with silver iodide crystals (I think), “chemtrails” is pure myth and distracting propaganda. To investigate would just be chasing one’s tail. Aviation is altering and vandalizing the sky, our atmosphere every day and night. Few will admit this, so it is far easier and effective to yell CHEMTRAILS!
        DT

        Reply
      • Ps, eleggua, the reason the sky is filled with these “trails” is because of the many aircraft causing them — and they stay visible for so long because of moisture in the air (much of this from climate change) and the dysfunctional jet stream (CC again) holding them in place.

        Reply
      • eleggua

         /  March 11, 2015

        Um, seems you misunderstood my post, dt. Chemtrails are nonsense at best and disinformation at worst. That clear now?

        If there was some evidence that they existed, then I’d certainly support an investigation. But why would someone pay to investigate something for which there is no evidence of existence?

        Reply
      • eleggua

         /  March 11, 2015

        For anyone still up in the air with ‘chemtrails’:
        How to Debunk Chemtrails http://contrailscience.com/
        The chemtrail conspiracy theory seems to frequently misidentify ordinary contrails as “chemtrails” – some kind of secret spraying program. This theory comes in many flavors, and there’s a large number of things people bring up as “evidence” to support this theory. I’ve tried to gather all the debunks of this evidence in one place here, for easy reference..

        While the title of this post is “How to Debunk Chemtrails”, the actual debunking depends on what version of the theory needs debunking…

        Reply
  30. Excellent post Robert! You have a wonderful ability to wade through any BS and get to the reality of every situation. You provide accurate evaluations of our current situation which can often be quite dire and depressing, but balance it perfectly with a this-fight-ain’t-over attitude and encouraging news from the front lines. You refrain from hyperbole but never sugar coat it. Combined with your apparent knowledge of all things climate related, you have achieved perfection in my view. Well done sir! And thank you for all you do!!

    Reply
  31. Ouse M.D.

     /  March 10, 2015

    above + 1 C for the Northern Hemisphere in CCI…

    http://cci-reanalyzer.org/DailySummary/

    Reply
  32. Mark from New England

     /  March 10, 2015

    Change of topic – but with the Senate Republicans pushing for war with Iran, I’m really concerned that we should justifiably be as concerned about nuclear winter in our near-term future as rapid global warming. Perhaps it’s time for a social justice article, Robert!

    But back on topic, your article here is the best I’ve ever read on the arctic methane situation. As someone else said, I anticipate with morbid fascination the climate change enhanced disasters we’re about to witness this northern hemisphere summer. Thanks for the ringside seat Robert.

    Reply
    • Andy in San Diego

       /  March 10, 2015

      Iran will wind up with a bomb, that is one thing. But it will be large and stationary. After that there is another long stage where they have to make it fit on a missile. That involves reducing the size, and increasing the reliability of their firing sequence to compress the material properly.

      They would simply be another North Korea, waving that they have a bomb however unable to deliver it anywhere.

      A Higher likely hood would be a strike on their facilities.

      Reply
      • Mark from New England

         /  March 10, 2015

        I’m more concerned about what the US and Israel might do than Iran.

        Reply
    • War with Iran would be pure folly and the republican warmongering is unconscionable. They provide every incentive for Iran to arm and to act badly. I long for the republican days of yore where walk softly but carry a big stick was the policy. Now it’s talk loudly and multiply insecurity.

      Reply
      • eleggua

         /  March 10, 2015

        Considering the cast of characters ‘advising’ Jeb, it looks like the neocons are geared up for something far more expansive than a ‘shocking and awing’ stomping of Iran.

        http://www.nytimes.com/2015/02/22/opinion/sunday/maureen-dowd-jeb-bushs-brainless-trust.html?_r=0
        …there’s Paul Wolfowitz, the unapologetic designer of the doctrine of unilateralism and pre-emption, the naïve cheerleader for the Iraq invasion and the man who assured Congress that Iraqi oil would pay for the country’s reconstruction and that it was ridiculous to think we would need as many troops to control the country as Gen. Eric Shinseki, then the Army chief of staff, suggested.

        There’s John Hannah, Cheney’s national security adviser (cultivated by the scheming Ahmed Chalabi), who tried to stuff hyped-up junk on Saddam into Powell’s U.N. speech and who harbored bellicose ambitions about Iran; Stephen Hadley, who let the false 16-word assertion about Saddam trying to buy yellowcake in Niger into W.’s 2003 State of the Union; Porter Goss, the former C.I.A. director who defended waterboarding.

        There’s Michael Hayden, who publicly misled Congress about warrantless wiretapping and torture…

        Reply
  33. Andy in San Diego

     /  March 10, 2015
    Reply
  34. eugene

     /  March 10, 2015

    All this reminds of a radio transmission I heard while flying jets. I could only hear one side but the guy in the air had requested a forced landing and the guy on the ground was, evidently, giving him some crap. What I heard was this: “Look I’m sitting up here with my ass on fire and I gotta get on the ground”. I never knew what happened. To me, Shakhova is there which carries weight. The modelers are like the guy on the ground, safe, secure and drinking coffee. I’m not hearing Shakhova and ilk screaming immediate disaster but that this is serious. If there’s anything I’ve learned in life, it’s the farther away, the safer you feel. Models are educated guesses but they are guesses. Mass media’s job is to sell just enough fear to get you to watch but not enough to make you stop watching. It’s called entertainment and, far too often, manipulation. Mass media has absolutely nothing to do with news.

    Are Shakhova and ilk right? Who knows? But they are there. I’ve been in the air when both engines quit and I’ll tell you, it gets your attention real quick. There’s no strolling down the hall for a cup of coffee, flirting with the receptionist and giving calming interviews on CNN. If I were 45 instead of 73, it sure would have my attention.

    Reply
    • I agree Eugene. It’s not good policy to ignore reports from the guy/gal camped out on the side of a volcano — or in the Arctic, as the case may be now.

      Reply
      • Exactly! We saw this same thing when arctic ice melt really accelerated, yet the IPCC projections in 2007 still had the arctic summer ice lasting until about 2100. Now we are looking at around 2020 for a blue ocean at the pole. If there is a major discrepancy between real time data from the field and what models predict, it’s time to adjust your models.

        Reply
  35. Spike

     /  March 10, 2015

    Great article Robert – high atmospheric methane levels over the Arctic have always struck me as a possible first sign of trouble, and I’ve seen Jason Box postulate similar concerns. Surprising how little this gets into the argument given that it is real world observation.

    We can argue forever about whether mechanisms are known and whether large releases are possible or not in theory – but when you start actually observing spikes of atmospheric methane in the Arctic atmosphere it sort of makes the point that it can happen, rather like the melting sea ice destroyed many modellers’ ideas of what was possible.I guess the question is are they a new phenomenon and I don’t know if there is a long historical record to examine, but I think we should err on the side of prudence – Nature can always pull surprises. I hope there are international moves to increase monitoring of atmospheric levels in the coming years over a wider area of the Arctic – is this happening do you know? Are recent high levels a new and increasingly frequent phenomenon?

    It’s another indication surely that we should be moving to tighten up on our own emissions from fossil fuels, biomass burning, and agriculture if we want to keep the lid on things whilst we still can. In a sane world there would surely be aggressive moves in that direction.

    This article I came across today puts the rapid increase in the period 1940-90 largely down to biomass burning, just as an example of what we have already done. If we add increasing ruminant/rice farming, more areas that are more frequently and severely flooded in warmer temperatures, and increasing releases from the Arctic, then perhaps we could see still further increases.

    http://bit.ly/1wW9kZK

    Reply
    • Spike

       /  March 10, 2015

      I guess Yurgonov’s satellite obs over the last 5 years that you included in your article answer the question whether this is new in the affirmative. “So not only does the AIRS sensor show overburden, but it also finds rapid methane build-up over the period measured.”

      I’m going to hide under the table….

      Reply
      • Actually, Spike, I’m editing this a little bit. The issue is that in some regions we do see spikes at certain times, but not the level of spiking that would indicate a catastrophic instance. Yerganov notes that the Arctic build-up has tended to be more gradual thus far and I’m sticking to that — even though we do see some non-catastrophic, but somewhat troubling, spiking now and then (as in the Barents during January of 2012).

        Reply
  36. Griffin

     /  March 10, 2015

    When I asked how the heat from the ocean would warm the hydrate zone of the undersea floor, I had no idea that I was to hit upon a core issue in the argument over levels of concern regarding stores of methane.
    I understand that many would tend to think that the layer of permafrost would insulate the hydrates from the warming ocean sufficiently to prevent a large scale release. Obviously, I was wondering how it would happen myself. As so many of his answers often do, Robert’s explanation got me thinking.

    Does anyone really believe that a few hundred feet of permafrost can protect those fragile crystalline structures from us?

    The dinosaurs tried to hide. Millions of years before we first appeared, they died and disappeared deep underground. We found them, sucked them out of the ground, and lit them on fire.

    To help protect her precious balance of temperature, Gaia once wrapped herself in massive bodies of thermal stability. Colossal ice sheets, oceans of width and depth beyond the scope of imagination.

    The vastness was not enough. We have found ways to heat the ocean on a scale once thought impossible. The ice sheets are bleeding out as if from an arterial wound.

    Glaciers have lost their association with moving slow, and Santa is looking for a pontoon boat for his North Pole workshop.

    We have found the way to raise the tide, to grow the ocean, and even to alter her greatest of currents.

    We have given new meaning to our most severe of weather. Drought, flood, heat and storm are all spoken of now in catastrophic terms. Our droughts have removed the water from regions and even caused the mountains to grow. Our floods have changed the face of the land and removed dreams of inhabitance from waterways. Our heat has burned the forest till the smoke circled the globe. Our storms have grown to devastating strength, where the title of strongest or largest seems to fall like weightlifting records after steroids came out.

    Now perhaps the models are right and that methane is safe. But models also told us that an ice shelf could not collapse in a matter of days (Larsen B), an ice sheet would not reach the point of irreversible collapse in our lifetimes (WAIS), and that the Gulf Stream would not significantly slow to the point of drastic sea level rise (East Coast 2009/2010). We have managed to pull off all of that off and more.

    So if anyone is confident that a few hundred feet of permafrost is sufficient to protect that methane from us….they need to take a hard look at our body of work. Thank you again for keeping us in the know with this situation Robert.

    Reply
    • The methane hydrate system is similar to glaciers in that it is stable, until it isn’t. And that makes it a rather important thing to keep track of. Because, as Griff notes, models tend to have trouble with things that behave in this manner.

      Hydrate release is perhaps the thorniest issue of all when it comes to global warming science. And that’s absolutely why we must keep covering it.

      Reply
    • This is the article that just keeps getting tweaked.

      Reply
    • eleggua

       /  March 10, 2015

      Well said, Griffin; very well said.

      The dinosaurs tried to hide. Millions of years before we first appeared, they died and disappeared deep underground. We found them, sucked them out of the ground, and lit them on fire….
      Glaciers have lost their association with moving slow, and Santa is looking for a pontoon boat for his North Pole workshop….
      So if anyone is confident that a few hundred feet of permafrost is sufficient to protect that methane from us….they need to take a hard look at our body of work.

      Reply
    • eleggua

       /  March 10, 2015

      “…a hard look at our body of work.”

      Ozymandias – Percy Bysshe Shelley

      I met a traveller from an antique land
      Who said: “Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
      Stand in the desert. Near them on the sand,
      Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown
      And wrinkled lip and sneer of cold command
      Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
      Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
      The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed.
      And on the pedestal these words appear:
      `My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings:
      Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair!’
      Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
      Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare,
      The lone and level sands stretch far away”.

      Reply
      • Great quote Eleggua. I’ve always thought that we are the modern version of Ozymandias, proudly boasting of our mastery of nature and mighty power we wield, yet naively sowing the seeds of our own destruction.

        Reply
      • “My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
        In 1942, the English writer Aldous Huxley and his wife moved to the small community of Llano in the Mohave Desert, north of Los Angeles. Llano turned out to be the former site of Llano del Rio, a utopian socialist community founded in 1914, which had failed shortly thereafter. The abandoned Llano del Rio ruins put Huxley in mind of the famous poem about a traveler in the desert who comes across a broken statue, toppled from its base and half-buried in the sand. Carved into the pedestal is a boastful message: “My name is Ozymandias, king of kings: Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair!”

        Huxley, as the author of the dystopian novel Brave New World, naturally deplored the hubris of Llano del Rio’s founders, who thought they could build a town that would change the world. But Huxley had only spent five years in the United States; he had not yet gone native. In time, he too would succumb to the deeply American impulse to conjure up a plausible paradise.
        forbes-com-2008-04-10-history-american-utopia-oped-utopia

        -Photo: THE CENTER FOR LAND USE INTERPRETATION – Llano Del Rio Site

        Reply
      • rustj2015

         /  March 11, 2015

        This segment:
        And wrinkled lip and sneer of cold command
        Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
        Which yet survive…
        says to me that our social structures continue to implant those with too little care for others, and other life forms — for the nurturant earth.

        Reply
      • eleggua

         /  March 11, 2015

        “…our social structures continue to implant those with too little care for others, and other life forms…”

        Yes. That’s at least partly to do with the male dominance of culture and the reasons behind that dominance.

        “…(it’s) not just what men do to women but the way we men shape the culture to demand of women these things.” – Dennis Potter, author of “Pennies From Heaven’, ‘The Singing Detective’, etc.

        Reply
  37. Colorado Bob

     /  March 10, 2015

    ‘Unprecedented’ warm blob weather phenomenon creates concerns for shrimp, Pacific whiting

    The Oregon shrimp catch seems likely to be down, Pacific hake fishing may be unusual this year and mahi mahi is showing up hundreds of miles further north than usual, thanks to a so-called “warm blob” that started in the Gulf of Alaska and then spread suddenly to North America’s West Coast last September.

    Since then, ocean temperatures have remained 3.6 to 5.4 degrees (F) above long term averages off the West coast of North America and the south of Russia.

    “This is really unprecedented,” Bill Peterson, senior scientist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)’s Northwest Fisheries Science Center in Newport, Oregon, told Undercurrent News.

    The blob of record sea surface temperatures developed in the Gulf of Alaska in late 2013 then quickly spread to a much larger area last September. This developed long before — and separate from — this year’s El Nino, which NOAA declared had arrived on Thursday after months of anticipation. The El Nino is causing warmer waters in the equatorial Pacific and may spread to the Northern hemisphere, but it is drawing far less concern from scientists Undercurrent spoke with than the now-expanded warm blob.

    http://www.undercurrentnews.com/2015/03/10/warm-blob-2-0-eclipses-el-nino-as-concerns-arise-for-shrimp-pacific-whiting/

    Reply
    • – My intuitive feeling has been in line with this too:
      “… The El Nino is causing warmer waters in the equatorial Pacific and may spread to the Northern hemisphere, but it is drawing far less concern from scientists Undercurrent spoke with than the now-expanded warm blob.”

      Reply
    • climatehawk1

       /  March 10, 2015

      >> “‘Unprecedented’ warm blob weather phenomenon creates concerns for shrimp, Pacific whiting”

      Thanks, tweeted.

      Reply
  38. Danabanana

     /  March 10, 2015

    Loved the read Rob. Dot connecting at its finest. Another superb display of Noctilucent Clouds this year, no doubt.

    Reply
  39. Aaron Lewis

     /  March 10, 2015

    Excellent post!

    As we think about clathrates, it worth remembering that in 2006, we had a clear trend of declining Arctic ice, and yet those of us worried about imminent sea ice loss were called, “alarmist”.

    Now we have a clear trend of increasing methane releases, and it is time to recognize that significant methane deposits are near release conditions.

    ice is ice meaning that permafrost is subject to the same melting point depression under pressure as as the ice in the Greenland Ice Sheet, and thus liquid water can from moulins in permafrost just as it does on the GIS. As water hydro-fractures the permafrost, it can release the pressure under the permafrost allowing the clathrates under the permafrost to dissociate.

    As far as Yamal is concerned, the “smoke” was likely condensing water vapor from soil melted by water down flow, and then the water vapor was pushed up by methane. The explosion was likely ignited by static charge triggered by rapid flow of methane through the air and was primarily an atmospheric event.

    Much of the volume of the crater was likely clathrates, The dissociation of clathrates would be rapid enough and powerful enough to eject a substantial amount of material, without invoking a subterranean explosion. The problem with a subterranean explosion are the sources of ignition and oxygen. Ejection as a result of dissociation would indicate a larger volume of clathrates per volume of crater, than a model assuming subterranean explosion, but methane release per crater on a global basis would still be trivial.

    2007 warned us that we are close to the melting point of Arctic Sea Ice, and recent events warn us that we are close to the dissociation temperature/pressure of clathrates.

    The large number of sea bed craters tells us that clathrate releases are normal in a time of global warming. And, we are expected to remember that current climate forcing is rather greater than orbital forcing, so clathrate release processes may be faster than than in previous cycles.

    Reply
    • eleggua

       /  March 10, 2015

      From Cryopolitics, by Mia Bennett, posted August 18, 2014, and source of the ‘Hydrocarbons and Permafrost in the Yamal Peninsula’ map posted several comments ^^^above.

      http://cryopolitics.com/2014/08/18/arctic-satellite-image-of-the-week-the-crater-at-the-end-of-the-earth/
      <em…What is striking about these images is not actually the hole, but rather the generally pockmarked appearance of the landscape, which is especially clear in the June 2013 image….
      With the earth’s average temperature creeping upwards, permafrost is beginning to thaw out. A Nature news story cites a paper by researchers at Germany’s Alfred Wegener Institute who found that the average temperature of permafrost at a 20-meter depth has risen by 2°C….

      …As the explanation goes, the permafrost melting below the earth’s surface released the methane gas that had been trapped within. A cap of ice on top of the ground kept the gas contained until the pressure became too much. At that point, the ice burst, forming a crater….

      ….The destabilization of methane hydrates on a region-wide scale throughout the Arctic threatens more than just the Russian gas industry. Some scientists believe it could also lead to abrupt, global climate change, an idea known as the “clathrate gun hypothesis.” Methane is 20 times more potent than carbon dioxide, although after ten years, the former breaks down into the latter….
      …while the Yamal Peninsula satisfies Europe – and perhaps soon Asia’s – appetites for natural gas, this region called the “end of the earth” could presage just that.

      Reply
  40. Colorado Bob

     /  March 10, 2015

    Outgoing winter proves warmest in Russia in history of weather monitoring.

    Moscow. The outgoing winter, which ended a couple of days ago according to the calendar, has proved the warmest in the history of weather monitoring in Russia conducted since 1891, the Federal Service for Hydrometeorology and Environmental Monitoring said on Monday, as cited by TASS.
    Over the past winter the average air temperatures in almost all Russian regions were two degrees above the norm as a minimum; on some territories it was even warmer. The past winter proved particularly mild in the Central, Northwest, Siberian and the Far Eastern Federal Districts, where seasonal air temperatures were 4-7 degrees above the norm.

    Link

    Reply
    • Colorado Bob

       /  March 10, 2015

      A general conclusion was that the 2014-2015 winter was the warmest in the Northern Hemisphere in the history story of weather monitoring, The average air temperatures last winter were higher than the previous” warm” record set in 2006-2007.

      Reply
  41. Colorado Bob

     /  March 10, 2015

    Rate Of Climate Change To Soar By 2020s, With Arctic Warming 1°F Per Decade

    http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2015/03/10/3631632/climate-change-rate/

    Reply
  42. Colorado Bob

     /  March 10, 2015

    Worst Drought In A Decade Hits Taiwan

    As a subtropical/tropical island, Taiwan usually covers with wetness and green. However, last year, there were only two typhoons, the island is now facing the worst drought in a decade.

    Independent reporter Chu Shu Chuan reported that the storage of 12 major reservoirs is reduced to less than 50%, according to the Waer Resources Agency on its February 8 press release. 8 municipalities in Taiwan have started second stage water restrictions since Feb 26.

    Chu’s follow-up report highlighted that the storage of one of the major reservoir, the Shinmen Reservoir has dropped to 27% and the water supply of its major industrial users will be reduced by 7.5% from March 13.

    If the drought cannot be eased when rains come in spring, the industrial parks in Taiwan may face the shortage of water that cannot be simply solved by adjusting the manufacturing schedules.

    Link

    Reply
  43. Colorado Bob

     /  March 10, 2015

    Northern Greece in a State of Emergency due to Floods –

    The region of Serres in Eastern Macedonia and Thrace, northern Greece, has been declared in a state of emergency by local authorities due to floods caused after several days of continuous heavy rainfall that destroyed crops and seriously damaged the road network.

    So far, the technical teams, completing an assessment of the situation, indicate that some 5,000 hectares of farms have been flooded in dozens of villages across the region, while according to the same sources, damage has also been caused by extreme rainfall in irrigation and draining systems, rural roads and bridges.
    – See more at: http://greece.greekreporter.com/2015/03/10/northern-greece-in-a-state-of-emergency-due-to-floods/#sthash.Bt0a8uEW.dpuf

    Southern Bulgaria on slow path to recovery after heavy snowfall crisis

    In a Brestovitsa village, 12 people, including two children, were reported stranded for a third day.

    Emergency teams were trying to reach them on an 11km road impassable because in places the snow was as deep as two metres. An attempt was to be made to reach them by snowmobile but the wet snow made movement extremely difficult.

    http://sofiaglobe.com/2015/03/10/southern-bulgaria-on-slow-path-to-recovery-after-heavy-snowfall-crisis/

    Reply
  44. Colorado Bob

     /  March 10, 2015

    Friction means Antarctic glaciers more sensitive to climate change than we thought
    Date:
    March 10, 2015
    Source:
    California Institute of Technology
    Summary:
    A new study finds that incorporating Coulomb friction into computer models increases the sensitivity of Antarctic ice sheets to temperature perturbations driven by climate change.

    Link

    Reply
  45. Colorado Bob

     /  March 10, 2015

    Small eddies produce global effects on climate change
    Date:
    March 10, 2015
    Source:
    University of New South Wales
    Summary:
    The increasing strength of winds over the Southern Ocean has extended its ability to absorb carbon dioxide, effectively delaying the impacts of global warming. New research found the intensifying wind over that ocean increased the speed and energy of eddies and jets. The increased movement and overturning of these eddies and jets has accelerated the carbon cycle and driven more heat into the deep ocean

    Link

    Reply
  46. Colorado Bob

     /  March 10, 2015

    Same forces as today caused climate changes 1.4 billion years ago
    Date:
    March 10, 2015
    Source:
    University of Southern Denmark
    Summary:
    Natural forces have always caused the climate on Earth to fluctuate. Now researchers have found geological evidence that some of the same forces as today were at play 1.4 billion years ago.

    Link

    The sediments in the Xiamaling Formation have preserved evidence of repeated climate fluctuations, reflecting apparent changes in wind patterns and ocean circulation that indicates orbital forcing of climate change.

    Today Earth is affected by fluctuations called the Milankovich cycles. There are three different Milankovich cycles, and they occur each 20,000, 40,000 and 100,000 years. Over the last one million years these cycles have caused ice ages every 100,000 years, and right now we are in the middle of a warming period that has so far lasted 11,000 years.

    “Earth’s climate history is complex. With this research we can show that cycles like the Milankovich cycles were at play 1.4 billion years ago — a period, we know only very little about,” says Donald Canfield, adding:

    Reply
  47. Colorado Bob

     /  March 10, 2015

    Evidence from warm past confirms recent IPCC estimates of climate sensitivity
    Date:
    February 4, 2015
    Source:
    University of Southampton
    Summary:
    New evidence showing the level of atmospheric carbon dioxide millions of years ago supports recent climate change predictions from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

    Link

    The findings, which have been published in Nature, also show how climate sensitivity can vary over the long term.

    “Today the Earth is still adjusting to the recent rapid rise of CO2 caused by human activities, whereas the longer-term Pliocene records document the full response of CO2-related warming,” says Southampton’s Dr Gavin Foster, co-author of the study.

    “Our estimates of climate sensitivity lie well within the range of 1.5 to 4.5ºC increase per CO2 doubling summarised in the latest IPCC report. This suggests that the research community has a sound understanding of what the climate will be like as we move toward a Pliocene-like warmer future caused by human greenhouse gas emissions.”

    Reply
    • Passing the Pliocene now… It’s really just a drive-by. ECS is about 3 C. ESS is about 6 C. Pliocene was 2-3 C warmer… At 350-400 ppm. We’re hitting 404 ppm this year. Hello Miocene.

      Reply
  48. Colorado Bob

     /  March 10, 2015

    No evidence logging helps reduce forest fires

    Recently Sen. Daines and Sen. Tester have stated their support for increased logging of Montana’s federal forestlands under the presumption that logging can preclude severe wildfires.

    There is no evidence that under severe fire weather that logging and thinning of forests can reduce fire spread. The only reason thinning appears to work is that most fires do not burn under severe fire conditions, but under such conditions, fires remain small and are hardly a threat to communities.

    However, all the big fires — the very fires that Daines and Tester seeks to preclude — are driven by severe fire weather and are not fuel-driven events.

    In other words, logging will not and cannot prevent large fires if fire weather conditions are conducive to fire spread.

    Not only are there are scientific reviews that reach that conclusion, but we are surrounded by numerous examples here in Montana. Fires like the Jocko Lakes, Lolo Creek, Gold Creek and many others I could name burned through previously logged landscapes. What stopped the blazes were changes in weather conditions, not fuels.

    Link

    Reply
  49. Colorado Bob

     /  March 10, 2015

    A new round of disinformation from the same old crowd, the google news feed –

    More Evidence Of Climate Data Tampering By NOAA?
    Chron.com – ‎5 hours ago‎

    When Dr. Roy Spencer looked up summer temperature data for the U.S. Corn Belt, it showed no warming trend for over a century. But that was before temperatures were “adjusted” by National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration climate scientists.

    Reply
    • Full on conspiracy theory…

      Reply
    • eleggua

       /  March 10, 2015

      Dr. Roy Spencer: “Twenty years ago, as a PhD scientist, I intensely studied the evolution versus intelligent design controversy for about two years. And finally, despite my previous acceptance of evolutionary theory as ‘fact,’ I came to the realization that intelligent design, as a theory of origins, is no more religious, and no less scientific, than evolutionism.”

      Reply
    • They’re desperate, my friend. Their high water mark was ‘climate gate’ and they can’t figure out why the same old dirty tricks aren’t working any more…

      Reply
  50. Colorado Bob

     /  March 11, 2015

    If Watts is so pure , let’s see his books .

    Let;s us force this issue, Where does that fat bastard get his money ?

    He demands clear funding , let;s see his. And his emails.

    Reply
  51. Colorado Bob

     /  March 11, 2015

    Let’s press this issue –

    If Watts is so pure , let’s see his books

    He built an entire career attacking people as scammers who were trying to get a PHD. But he never got past the checkout at Safeway.

    Reply
  52. Colorado Bob

     /  March 11, 2015

    If Watts is so pure , let’s see his books

    Reply
  53. Colorado Bob

     /  March 11, 2015

    Let’s take a break –
    Tuesday Afternoon-The Moody Blues-(Long Extended Version)

    Reply
  54. Colorado Bob

     /  March 11, 2015

    I was looking for this :

    Reply
  55. Colorado Bob

     /  March 11, 2015

    In 1968 I sat on pile of rail road ties at Clovis , New Mexico , I had zero money . And no water , I was 100 miles from home.

    I wrote this to remind me what a nasty old tough fart I am.

    Reply
    • eleggua

       /  March 11, 2015

      I’m picturing Neal Cassady, sitting on the tracks, at the end of his road.

      Keep on truckin’, Colorado Bob!!!

      Reply
  56. Colorado Bob

     /  March 11, 2015

    eleggua
    My plan was to die two decades ago.

    Life is a funny ole’ dog ,

    Reply
    • Colorado Bob

       /  March 11, 2015

      eleggua –

      The album of the 20th century :

      Terrapin Station

      The song –

      Terrapin Station

      Reply
  57. eleggua

     /  March 11, 2015

    A lot more bark will grow on your tree, dog. Stick around; the best is yet to come.
    We’ve just got to make it through the extremely rough patch ahead. And we will.

    Reply
  58. Colorado Bob

     /  March 11, 2015

    Nobody remembers this –

    The Paul Butterfield Blues Band – “East-West”

    Reply
    • Colorado Bob

       /  March 11, 2015

      Elvin Bishop , playing with Mike Bloomfield , and Paul Butterfield. Not one word was sang.

      Reply
      • Right on, CB, It’s a gem.

        Reply
      • bill shockley

         /  April 27, 2015

        “Elvin Bishop , playing with Mike Bloomfield , and Paul Butterfield. Not one word was sang.”

        They said the same thing about Mick Jagger. LOL. And that’s the way it should be. Woody Guthrie “sang” in an off-key speaking voice to piss off the commercial type music people.
        Some people say art should be political. I heard an African musician say if you do it for the money, music will kill you. Africans have an unfamiliar grace about them.

        Song of the century? Everyone’s got one. I’ve got a few. But just to be different, I’d take a Ramone’s song. Dee Dee Ramone was real.

        But the one my brain really wants to say is Senor, Bob Dylan
        Can ya tell me where we headin’
        Lincoln County Road or Armageddon
        Cue the oboe

        I was never “into” the Moody Blues but I loved their songs.
        Tuesday Afternoon had a mystical effect on me (totally straight). I can only think of two other songs that affected me like that. And It Stoned Me, Van Morrison, and Once in a Lifetime, Talking Heads. I realized one day that it wasn’t just me when a friend (he wasn’t really a friend), unsolicited, told me of his same experience with Stoned Me.

        Anyway, thanks for the break…

        Reply
  59. Colorado Bob

     /  March 11, 2015

    Howlin’ Wolf – The Red Rooster

    Howlin’ Wolf in Britain playing with of the best of English blues men .

    Reply
    • Colorado Bob

       /  March 11, 2015

      This a perfect version of this song, he never cut a better track , and no one else ever did either, and there dozens of covers of this song,

      Reply
  60. Colorado Bob

     /  March 11, 2015

    ^That one’s an answer record to a Bo Diddley track that riffed on Muddy’s Hoochie Coochie Man. Muddy wasn’t amused..

    eleggua
    Tell us all what mannish boy is.

    Reply
    • Colorado Bob

       /  March 11, 2015

      eleggua –
      You picked the Staple Singers , I picked Howlin’ Wolf in Britain playing with everyone who beat their way in. No one beat their way into a Staple Singers session. Everyone knew it was their last and only time to play with Howlin’ Wolf .

      In 100 years, no one will remember the Staple Singers, but someone will have cover of
      “The Red Rooster”.

      Reply
  61. eleggua

     /  March 11, 2015

    Robert, if you have a moment and don’t mind, please delete my YouTube music video posts above.
    They’re contributing to slooooow load times for the page, which is counterproductive to reaching an audience interested in climate change issues.
    Another commenter mentioned that a few days ago on another article; my apologies for forgetting.

    Posting climate change-related youTube links can be beneficial, though as much as possible I’m going to look for and try to post links to sites that include the embedded vids so as to avoid directly embedding youtubes here.
    Thanks so much.

    Reply
  62. Hi Robert-

    Thanks so much for your post.

    http://www.chinapost.com.tw/life/discover/2015/03/14/431005/More-giant.htm

    ““We have just learnt that in Yakutia, new information has emerged about a giant crater one kilometer (0.6 miles) in diameter,” the deputy director of the Oil and Gas Research Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Vasily Bogoyavlensky, told AFP.

    He said this brought to seven the number of reported pits.

    “Footage allows us to identify minimum seven craters, but in fact there are plenty more,” he said.”

    Plenty more? How many of the tens or hundreds of thousands of circular lakes in Yamal and adjacent areas are the result of this process?

    All of them?

    Reply
    • bill shockley

       /  April 27, 2015

      The crater lakes are generally round, small and deep compared to the thermokarst process lakes. Thermokarst lakes are usually only a few meters deep. The craters are 10s of meters upon forming and then tend to fill in substantially, at least initially, as the banks erode and the permafrost thaws around the rim.

      A lot of the lakes–the smaller, rounder, deeper ones, are from the Holocene thermal maximum when temperatures were similar to today’s.

      Marina Leibman was the scientist summoned to look at the the original crater when it was first discovered in July/2014. She and her team later went back to get more information in November, I think, and wrote up a paper:

      “Possibly, some Yamal lakes formed during the Holocene climatic optimum about 10,000 years ago and previously considered to be thermokarst lakes, formed through an analogous process”

      http://www.rgo.ru/sites/default/files/gi214_sverka.pdf (page 68)

      That’s her in the red coat in the Siberian Times article (Robert’s link):
      http://siberiantimes.com/science/casestudy/news/first-pictures-from-inside-the-crater-at-the-end-of-the-world/

      Cryopegs (according to Leibman) and the proximity to the Ocean seem to be key factors in the formation of the craters. But the geological history probably has a lot to do with it, or you would see these types of lakes in other near-ocean Arctic locations.

      Robert, if you get a chance, some time explain cryopegs!
      I’ve also yet to hear a good theory on why the craters are so round.

      Reply
      • Thanks, Bill! Will do.

        Considering we are almost certainly past Holocene Thermal Maximum temperatures now, these are important insights.

        Reply
      • Leland Palmer

         /  October 9, 2015

        Hi Bill-

        I’m not so sure that we know the origin of many of these lakes. Many more of them may be due to blowouts than most of us think.

        Several of the craters found recently have now turned into lakes, in just a few months. In a few years, the Russian scientists involved say that it will be difficult to determine what caused them.

        Occam’s Razor says that one circular lake generating process is a simpler explanation than two or more, operating in the same area of the world at the same time. One of the craters found was reported to be more than half a kilometer in diameter.

        We really don’t know whether these craters will remain deep, or be filled with sediment and become shallow, larger diameter lakes – similar to the tens or hundreds of thousands of other circular lakes in this region.

        Reply
      • Leland Palmer

         /  October 9, 2015

        According to the Siberian Times, this is video of the crater now.

        It’s now a lake, and the best way to explore it is in an inflatable boat.

        Superficially, it looks just like the hundreds of thousands of other circular lakes in the region.

        Reply
  63. Fascinating post. Thank you for bringing such an important and severely underreported issue to the public.

    Reply
    • I honestly don’t know. But think about this report in this context.

      First, human used natural gas contains an additive to give it a sulfur smell. If no gas line is present in the area and if methane release caused the outburst, then the only way it would provide a smell is if it was also tainted with sulfur. In the near ocean zone the synergy between hydrogen sulfide and methane is pretty eerie. Not something I’d rule out when looking at this.

      Reply
  64. Skip Kildore

     /  November 10, 2015

    Maybe this has been seen by this group, but this methane eruption in a Canadian golf course pond is something to see. As of the other day when I checked, the second nine holes of the course is still closed to the public:

    Thanks for your work Rob

    Reply
  65. And, of course, as we humans lament how all this will affect us, the other species on this planet, flora and fauna, will be facing extinction, because of Homo sapiens. http://www.foranimals.org

    Reply
  66. Lauren

     /  January 3, 2016

    Thank you for your post, not sure if you have heard about the methane leak in Southern California: http://www.livescience.com/53233-facts-california-methane-leak.html
    I’ve noticed nothing about this in mainstream news. Very sad.

    Reply
    • We’ve had a number of very diligent commenters tracking it for a few weeks now. I’ll take a crack at it if my schedule clears up. But, as I said before, this is the Deep Water Horizon on land. Complete with displaced persons and evacuations. We’re ripping holes in the Earth now that will leak methane for years and years. Yet one more element of fossil fuel insanity and lack-responsibility. Sad to see this fracking blowout. But I can’t say that such bad impacts from this high-risk endeavor weren’t something we should have seen coming. You change the nature of geology itself when you force water under high pressure into the ground to create your own fault lines. By its very nature the process is chaotic and destructive. Bad outcomes on top of bad outcomes to follow…

      Reply
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