The Methane Apocalypse

Some very frightening news from the world of climate science, as an international scientific team discovers that the Arctic permafrost in Siberia may be starting to leak huge amounts of methane into the atmosphere.

And if this proves to be true, my friends, it will put every other concern of human beings on the back burner.

One of the greatest concerns and large unknowns in climate science has been the potential impact of methane trapped and frozen in the polar regions of the planet, particularly in the Arctic permafrost. If climate change causes the methane to be released, the gas could start a positive feedback reaction that could trigger abrupt climate warming.

Until now no evidence of such a mechanism has been seen, but an international research team led by University of Alaska Fairbanks scientists Natalia Shakhova and Igor Semiletov say this change is under way—in a little-studied area under the sea, the East Siberian Arctic Shelf, west of the Bering Strait.

The East Siberian Arctic Shelf, a methane-rich area that encompasses more than 2 million square kilometers of seafloor, was long thought to be an impermeable barrier sealing in the methane, but Shakhova and Semiletov team states that it is in fact perforated and starting to leak large amounts of methane into the atmosphere.

“The amount of methane currently coming out of the East Siberian Arctic Shelf is comparable to the amount coming out of the entire world’s oceans,” said Shakhova, a researcher at UAF’s International Arctic Research Center. “Subsea permafrost is losing its ability to be an impermeable cap.”

Methane is more than 30 times more potent than carbon dioxide as a greenhouse gas. It is released from previously frozen soils in two ways. When the organic material (which contains carbon) stored in permafrost thaws, it begins to decompose and, under anaerobic conditions, gradually releases methane. Methane can also be stored in the seabed as methane gas or methane hydrates and then released as subsea permafrost thaws. These releases can be larger and more abrupt than those that result from decomposition.

The East Siberian Arctic Shelf is more than three times as large as the nearby Siberian wetlands, which have been considered the primary Northern Hemisphere source of atmospheric methane. Shakhova’s research results show that the East Siberian Arctic Shelf is already a significant methane source, releasing 7 teragrams of methane yearly, which is as much as is emitted from the rest of the ocean. A teragram is equal to about 1.1 million tons.

“Our concern is that the subsea permafrost has been showing signs of destabilization already,” she said. “If it further destabilizes, the methane emissions may not be teragrams, it would be significantly larger.”

UPDATE at 4/8/10 6:54:12 pm:

RealClimate says it’s not time to get frightened. Yet. RealClimate: Arctic Methane on the Move?

Jump to top

Create a PageThis is the LGF Pages posting bookmarklet. To use it, drag this button to your browser's bookmark bar, and title it 'LGF Pages' (or whatever you like). Then browse to a site you want to post, select some text on the page to use for a quote, click the bookmarklet, and the Pages posting window will appear with the title, text, and any embedded video or audio files already filled in, ready to go.
Or... you can just click this button to open the Pages posting window right away.
Last updated: 2016-01-01 10:29 am PST
LGF User's Guide RSS Feeds Tweet

Help support Little Green Footballs!

Subscribe now for ad-free access!Register and sign in to a free LGF account before subscribing, and your ad-free access will be automatically enabled.

Donate with
PayPal
Square Cash Shop at amazon
as an LGF Associate!
Recent PagesClick to refresh
Incredibles 2 Official Teaser Trailer The teaser trailer for "Incredibles 2" is here. Disney/Pixar's "Incredibles 2" opens in theatres in 3D June 15th, 2018. Everyone’s favorite family of superheroes is back in “Incredibles 2” – but this time Helen (voice of Holly Hunter) is ...
Thanos
19 hours, 5 minutes ago
Views: 135 • Comments: 0 • Rating: 0
Tweets: 0 • Share to Facebook
Shares: 0
Comments: 0
: 0
Deadpool’s “Wet on Wet” Teaser After surviving a near fatal bovine attack, a disfigured cafeteria chef (Wade Wilson) struggles to fulfill his dream of becoming Mayberry’s hottest bartender while also learning to cope with his lost sense of taste. Searching to regain his spice ...
Thanos
2 days, 19 hours ago
Views: 357 • Comments: 0 • Rating: 0
Tweets: 0 • Share to Facebook
Shares: 0
Comments: 0
: 0
Voice of America Reporter Outed as Alt-Right However, using information Fatzick himself posted on Reddit — including his age, girlfriend’s name, former employers, friends, location, educational background, and sports affiliations — this reporter was able to tie the vile posts of UncleSam4200 to the Voice of ...
Thanos
4 days, 9 hours ago
Views: 509 • Comments: 3 • Rating: 2
Tweets: 0 • Share to Facebook
Shares: 0
Comments: 0
: 0
Gary Clark Jr - Come Together (Official Music Video) [From the Justice League Movie Soundtrack] Official Video for "Come Together" by Gary Clark Jr. featured in the Justice League Movie trailer. In theaters November 17th 2017.Directed by Kris Merc Get the song now at garyclarkjr.com Check out the Justice League soundtrack here: lnk.to Follow ...
Thanos
6 days, 16 hours ago
Views: 496 • Comments: 1 • Rating: 2
Tweets: 0 • Share to Facebook
Shares: 0
Comments: 0
: 0
Kimbra - Top of the World (Official Music Video)New from Kimbra The new single Top of the World is available now on Apple Music, Spotify, Google Play, and more. Get the single here - kmbra.me The new studio album Primal Heart out wwide January 19th, 2018Preorder now - ...
Thanos
1 week ago
Views: 522 • Comments: 0 • Rating: 0
Tweets: 0 • Share to Facebook
Shares: 0
Comments: 0
: 0
The Barr Brothers - Song That I Heard (Live on KEXP) kexp.org presents The Barr Brothers performing "Song That I Heard" live at Breakglass Studios during POP Montreal 2017. Recorded September 16, 2017. Audio Engineer: James BenjaminCameras: Jim Beckmann, Ian Cameron & Scott HolpainenEditor: Jim Beckmann kexp.orgpopmontreal.combreakglass.ca With support from ...
Thanos
1 week, 1 day ago
Views: 615 • Comments: 0 • Rating: 0
Tweets: 1 • Share to Facebook
Shares: 0
Comments: 0
: 0
Left Cries Foul, but Electoral College Prevents Tyranny of the Majority I'm speechless...this is what we have to fight against: Image: constitution-1486010_960_720.jpg Author: Paul Jenkins(Paul Jenkins is editor of the anchoragedailyplanet.com, a division of Porcaro Communications) The political left and its mouthpiece, The New York Times, are still fuming over ...
Cheechako
1 week, 1 day ago
Views: 760 • Comments: 2 • Rating: 3
Tweets: 0 • Share to Facebook
Shares: 0
Comments: 0
: 0
Tune-Yards - Look at Your Hands (Official Video) 'Look at Your Hands' by Tune-Yards. New album 'I can feel you creep into my private life' is released January 19th 2018: smarturl.it Video by Michael SpeedFootage by Marisa Gesualdi & Jennifer SommerAdditional photos by Nate Brenner, Ginger Fierstein ...
Thanos
1 week, 3 days ago
Views: 893 • Comments: 0 • Rating: 0
Tweets: 1 • Share to Facebook
Shares: 0
Comments: 0
: 0
Beck Performing ‘Up All Night’ Live on KCRW Watch / Listen to the full session here: kcrw.com Beck has always been a chameleon and his latest Colors finds him returning to the incredibly upbeat songs that drove earlier albums like Odelay and Guero. This performance, recorded at ...
Thanos
1 week, 3 days ago
Views: 939 • Comments: 0 • Rating: 0
Tweets: 2 • Share to Facebook
Shares: 0
Comments: 0
: 0
Thundercat Performs ‘Them Changes’ With Jon Batiste & Stay Human Bass-man and musical wunderkind Thundercat sits in with the Late Show house band to perform this track off his latest album 'Drunk.' Subscribe To "The Late Show" Channel HERE: bit.lyFor more content from "The Late Show with Stephen Colbert", ...
Thanos
1 week, 3 days ago
Views: 813 • Comments: 0 • Rating: 1
Tweets: 1 • Share to Facebook
Shares: 0
Comments: 0
: 0