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Farting Ice - arctic methane!!

by whataboutbob Fri Apr 10th, 2009 at 04:14:53 AM EST

Perhaps someone here at ET has already posted this, but I just got shown this at a conference last weekend, and the ramifications of melting permafrost is downright scary: the release of methane could quickly speed up global warming. Check this little video out showing two people lighting methane coming up under arctic lakes:

Farting Ice

What do you think?

from the diaries - afew

the idea that there is an area the size of the US leaking methane into the atmosphere is really quite sobering...

"Once in awhile we get shown the light, in the strangest of places, if we look at it right" - Hunter/Garcia
by whataboutbob on Wed Apr 8th, 2009 at 04:17:08 AM EST
Oh, crap.

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by A swedish kind of death on Wed Apr 8th, 2009 at 04:59:30 AM EST
Yeah, tipping point, visually demonstrated.  Burn More Coal!

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Ana´s Nin
by Crazy Horse on Wed Apr 8th, 2009 at 07:22:38 AM EST
[ Parent ]
In 2006 I wrote:
European Tribune - Climate Science: Got Doom Today? (Part 2)
Yet one conclusion that I draw from his work is that on a warming Earth there should be more attention directed to other methane sources, which are quicker to degas than [ocean] clathrates. In that respect, I find reports of degassing marshes and bogs in Siberia releasing their CH4 of far greater concern.

I have seen/found very little continuation of the science I then wrote about. 2007 was marked with a methane increase in CH4 atmospheric concentrations - experts were hesitant to relate this to increasing thaw of permafrost. In fact, it seems to be unclear what caused the increase in 2007. There's also this:

Renewed growth of atmospheric methane

Following almost a decade with little change in global atmospheric methane mole fraction, we present measurements from the Advanced Global Atmospheric Gases Experiment (AGAGE) and the Australian Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) networks that show renewed growth starting near the beginning of 2007. Remarkably, a similar growth rate is found at all monitoring locations from this time until the latest measurements. We use these data, along with an inverse method applied to a simple model of atmospheric chemistry and transport, to investigate the possible drivers of the rise. Specifically, the relative roles of an increase in emission rate or a decrease in concentration of the hydroxyl radical, the largest methane sink, are examined. We conclude that: 1) if the annual mean hydroxyl radical concentration did not change, a substantial increase in emissions was required simultaneously in both hemispheres between 2006 and 2007; 2) if a small drop in the hydroxyl radical concentration occurred, consistent with AGAGE methyl chloroform measurements, the emission increase is more strongly biased to the Northern Hemisphere.

I haven't found numbers of atmospheric CH4 for past year; I suspect they will be released soon.

by Nomad on Wed Apr 8th, 2009 at 09:13:43 AM EST
Can't we find an intelligent way to capture those farts and burn them for energy? I thought that technology already existed and was being used to capture methane coming out of garbage dumps.
by vladimir on Wed Apr 8th, 2009 at 10:08:34 AM EST
True enough. But in an area the size of the US, it's probably a better bet to let some bacteria digest it.
by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Thu Apr 9th, 2009 at 09:40:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Doing this on melting ice might be problematic.

And also... capturing it and burning it still releases greenhouse gases.

Most economists teach a theoretical framework that has been shown to be fundamentally useless. -- James K. Galbraith

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Apr 10th, 2009 at 04:59:22 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Exhibit A as to why global warming is likely to proceed in a non-linear manner.  The only good solution to these releases I can see is rapid reversal of the recent global ambient temperature increase.  I understand that methane is a significantly more potent greenhouse gas than is CO2, so burning this methane would actually be an improvement.  Unfortunately, neither capture nor burning in situ appears feasible, although I would be delighted to be shown to be wrong.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Wed Apr 8th, 2009 at 12:49:21 PM EST
I understand frozen methane is also sequestered in abundance in certain ocean floor locations and this is also released as sea temperatures rise.  

I can swear there ain't no heaven but I pray there ain't no hell. _ Blood Sweat & Tears
by Gringo (stargazing camel at aoldotcom) on Wed Apr 8th, 2009 at 01:37:53 PM EST
Ah, I see Nomad refers to these deposits above.

I can swear there ain't no heaven but I pray there ain't no hell. _ Blood Sweat & Tears
by Gringo (stargazing camel at aoldotcom) on Wed Apr 8th, 2009 at 01:39:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, his diary on methane clathrates is worth going back to, also for the comments.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Fri Apr 10th, 2009 at 01:58:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I missed his previous article somehow, but I did go back and read it now.  Fascinating study.  Thanks for the link.

I can swear there ain't no heaven but I pray there ain't no hell. _ Blood Sweat & Tears
by Gringo (stargazing camel at aoldotcom) on Sat Apr 11th, 2009 at 02:09:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
by Lasthorseman on Thu Apr 9th, 2009 at 12:09:35 PM EST
If I remember well, the Russians aired an idea a couple of years ago to launch a solar umbrella into outer space, position it between the sun and the earth, and manage the flow of photons to earth by increasing or decreasing the umbrella's opaqueness.
by vladimir on Thu Apr 9th, 2009 at 12:38:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Climate engineering, you say?

Science Adviser Lays Out Climate and Energy Plans

John Holdren, President Obama's science adviser, began speaking to the media on Wednesday for the first time. The Associated Press emphasized some statements he made in support of testing ways to counteract global warming through what has become known as " geo-engineering" -- emergency interventions to cool the atmosphere should less drastic measures fail. Dr. Holdren said that the Associated Press article implied incorrectly that this strategy for climate management was under serious consideration at the White House. This is not the case, he said in an email distributed to a variety of scientists and other contacts last night:

    I said that the approaches that have been surfaced so far seem problematic in terms of both efficacy and side effects, but we have to look at the possibilities and understand them because if we get desperate enough it will be considered. I also made clear that this was my personal view, not Administration policy. Asked whether I had mentioned geo-engineering in any White House discussions, though, I said that I had. This is NOT the same thing as saying the White House is giving serious consideration to geo-engineering - which it isn't -- and I am disappointed that the headline and the text of the article suggest otherwise.

Dr. Holdren's support for research on geo-engineering aligns him with Ralph Cicerone, the president of the National Academy of Sciences, who told The Times in 2006, "We should treat these ideas like any other research and get into the mind-set of taking them seriously." Their notion is to have a "Plan C" if emissions trajectories are not bent downward and the higher end of warming projections comes to pass. (Join the geo-engineering googlegroup to track daily discussions on this question.)

But this is a charged issue for many environmentalists and some scientists (including Jane Lubchenco, the new under secretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere) who oppose such interventions with nature because they could produce unintended harms, falsely imply that we can engineer our way out of any problem or blunt efforts to cut emissions of greenhouse gases at the source.

Can you say "EMERGENCY"?

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Thu Apr 9th, 2009 at 07:31:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]
A commenter at ClubOrlov:
I'd rather take my chances with potential runaway climate change than these climate engineering experiments. When reading about such plans I can almost sympathise with more extreme environmentalists who believe a total sudden collapse of industrial civilization is the only long range hope for humanity. (I suspect we will actually get a slow, orwellian collapse, looking more like max headroom (initially) than mad max.)
by das monde on Fri Apr 10th, 2009 at 04:49:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]
This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang but a whimper.

1925 - The Hollow Men - T.S. Eliot

by vladimir on Fri Apr 10th, 2009 at 05:29:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
And then the following illustration (h/t Fran in the March 31 Salon) of how a complex system responds to forcing
According to Indian and German researchers, an experiment that involved dumping tons of dissolved iron into the Southern Ocean does not appear to be a viable way to prevent global warming.


The iron stimulated growth of planktonic algae called phytoplankton, which researched had hoped would absorb and reduce the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

But the scientists from India's National Institute of Oceanography (NIO) and Germany's Alfred Wegener Institute (AWI) did not expect the phytoplankton to be eaten by crustacean zooplankton.

Most economists teach a theoretical framework that has been shown to be fundamentally useless. -- James K. Galbraith
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Apr 10th, 2009 at 04:57:44 AM EST
[ Parent ]
proposed policies with manhandling Carbon by Capturing it, Capping it, and then Trading it, as if he had reduced it to slavery...


Patrice Ayme Patriceayme.com Patriceayme.wordpress.com http://tyranosopher.blogspot.com/

by Patrice Ayme on Fri Apr 10th, 2009 at 04:33:12 PM EST

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