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Methane gas from the Arctic Ocean

2012-04-23 09:46

Paris - The Arctic Ocean could be a significant contributor of methane, a powerful greenhouse gas, scientists reported on Sunday.

Researchers carried out five flights in 2009 and 2010 to measure atmospheric methane in latitudes as high as 82° north.

They found concentrations of the gas close to the ocean surface, especially in areas where sea ice had cracked or broken up.

The study, published in the journal Nature Geoscience, wonders if this is a disturbing new mechanism that could accelerate global warming.

"We suggest that the surface waters of the Arctic Ocean represent a potentially important source of methane, which could prove sensitive to changes in sea-ice cover," it says.

Evidence

If so, the Arctic Ocean would add to several identified "positive feedbacks" in Earth's climate system which ramp up the greenhouse effect.

One such vicious circle is the release of methane from Siberian and North American permafrost.

The thawing soil releases methane that has been locked up for millions of years, which adds to global warming - which in turns frees more methane, and so on.

But this is the first evidence that points to a methane contribution from the ocean, not the land, in Arctic latitudes.

Levels of methane in the atmosphere are relatively low, but the gas is 20 times more effective that carbon dioxide (CO2) at trapping solar heat.

Scientists have been struggling to understand the movements of the methane curve.

There was a rapid increase in levels due to post-World War II industrialisation, followed by a period of relative stability in the 1990s and more recently, by another rise.

The new paper, led by Eric Kort at the California Institute of Technology Caltech), says measurements of methane over some parts of the ocean were comparable to coastal eastern Siberia where there has been permafrost thaw.

Noting that around 10 million square kilometres of the Arctic Ocean are subject to summer melting of sea ice, "the emissions rate we encountered could present a source of global consequence", it says.

The source of the sea methane is unclear, it stresses.

The gas is unlikely to have been belched from sediment in the continental shelf as it was found at locations over the deep ocean. One idea is that it comes from microbes at the ocean surface.

Comments
  • Peter-Peter - 2012-04-23 10:11

    More proof that this greenhouse garbage is is one massive sales speech! its complete c**p! Humans do contribute...a little...yes...BUT the earth will; do as it has for billions of years...and recycle...there is nothing you and i can do, but sit back and relax...and have a joint while we watch the world go mad

      Tony Lapson - 2012-04-23 10:43

      You are talking about changes which happen over the earth lifespan. Do you really believe that it is impossible for humans to make our current environment better or worse?

      Tony Lapson - 2012-04-23 10:43

      You are talking about changes which happen over the earth lifespan. Do you really believe that it is impossible for humans to make our current environment better or worse?

      Peter-Peter - 2012-04-23 12:38

      completely...the corporate world that drives you and I...needs to survive, by selling us rubbish we don't need, otherwise how else do they survive? They have attempted (and largely succeeded) to instill fear in our lives - that the world will end if we don't do something about it. For as long as the Earth has been around, there has been ice age after ice age...the world regulates itself, like a snake chances its skin. It will continue to evolve, with or without us. Human beings love for technology has gone too far, but without, we are lost...there is nothing we can do now...and 'global warming' doesn't happen over night, it started hundreds of years ago, and will continue for the next couple of hundred years. We are just a bubble in the ocean, following its current.

      Peter-Peter - 2012-04-23 12:38

      completely...the corporate world that drives you and I...needs to survive, by selling us rubbish we don't need, otherwise how else do they survive? They have attempted (and largely succeeded) to instill fear in our lives - that the world will end if we don't do something about it. For as long as the Earth has been around, there has been ice age after ice age...the world regulates itself, like a snake chances its skin. It will continue to evolve, with or without us. Human beings love for technology has gone too far, but without, we are lost...there is nothing we can do now...and 'global warming' doesn't happen over night, it started hundreds of years ago, and will continue for the next couple of hundred years. We are just a bubble in the ocean, following its current.

      Tony Lapson - 2012-04-23 13:32

      I agree with you on everything except the scale factor. You are talking about ice ages which occur every couple of thousands of years (5000 years+). Are you saying that within those years of inevitable climate change, it isnt possible for 7 billion humans to influence the current climate or pollution levels? Let me put it like this. Stack 20 pot smokers into a room and 'hot box' it. Does the room not become hot and smoke filled? You need an external factor like a window to get fresh air? So if, say 7 billion people each owned a car in this 'room' called earth, what external factor is there to help vent what we have created? Can we safely say that the quality of the air that we currently breathe will always remain the same for the next 1000 years (before the earth decides to clean up with a massive natural disaster). I understand the marketing aspect of it, but you cannot be so sure that you are willing to destroy the environment for the next 18 generations.

      Tony Lapson - 2012-04-23 13:32

      I agree with you on everything except the scale factor. You are talking about ice ages which occur every couple of thousands of years (5000 years+). Are you saying that within those years of inevitable climate change, it isnt possible for 7 billion humans to influence the current climate or pollution levels? Let me put it like this. Stack 20 pot smokers into a room and 'hot box' it. Does the room not become hot and smoke filled? You need an external factor like a window to get fresh air? So if, say 7 billion people each owned a car in this 'room' called earth, what external factor is there to help vent what we have created? Can we safely say that the quality of the air that we currently breathe will always remain the same for the next 1000 years (before the earth decides to clean up with a massive natural disaster). I understand the marketing aspect of it, but you cannot be so sure that you are willing to destroy the environment for the next 18 generations.

      Ernst - 2012-04-23 13:41

      @Peter-Peter: "For as long as the Earth has been around, there has been ice age after ice age...the world regulates itself, like a snake chances its skin. It will continue to evolve, with or without us." Natural climate change in the past proves that climate is sensitive to an energy imbalance. If the planet accumulates heat, global temperatures will go up. Currently, CO2 is imposing an energy imbalance due to the enhanced greenhouse effect. Past climate change actually provides evidence for our climate's sensitivity to CO2. Conclusion: Climate reacts to whatever forces it to change at the time; humans are now the dominant forcing. "completely...the corporate world that drives you and I...needs to survive, by selling us rubbish we don't need, otherwise how else do they survive?" Yes, the fossil feul industry spends billions of dollars a year to spread misinformation about the dangers of manmade global warming. In addition to that, they receive billions of dollars in subsidies and tax giveaways by world goverments so I ask you......where does the balance od power lie? "They have attempted (and largely succeeded) to instill fear in our lives - that the world will end if we don't do something about it." Instill fear??? If people were afraid, why have no measures been taken to address manmade global warming??

      Ernst - 2012-04-23 13:41

      @Peter-Peter: "For as long as the Earth has been around, there has been ice age after ice age...the world regulates itself, like a snake chances its skin. It will continue to evolve, with or without us." Natural climate change in the past proves that climate is sensitive to an energy imbalance. If the planet accumulates heat, global temperatures will go up. Currently, CO2 is imposing an energy imbalance due to the enhanced greenhouse effect. Past climate change actually provides evidence for our climate's sensitivity to CO2. Conclusion: Climate reacts to whatever forces it to change at the time; humans are now the dominant forcing. "completely...the corporate world that drives you and I...needs to survive, by selling us rubbish we don't need, otherwise how else do they survive?" Yes, the fossil feul industry spends billions of dollars a year to spread misinformation about the dangers of manmade global warming. In addition to that, they receive billions of dollars in subsidies and tax giveaways by world goverments so I ask you......where does the balance od power lie? "They have attempted (and largely succeeded) to instill fear in our lives - that the world will end if we don't do something about it." Instill fear??? If people were afraid, why have no measures been taken to address manmade global warming??

      Peter-Peter - 2012-04-23 14:21

      Pretty much Tony...just remember... • 7 billion people, of which say, roughly, 3 billion are literate (in a sense of computers and 'know how') • out of those 3 billion, 1 billion actually follow up on global warming. • out of those 1 billion, 500 million couldn't do without the appliances they have and already run on what they consider 'bare minimum', • out of those 500 million, you have to consider, how many people actually care, and who doesnt, how many people believe in it being the earths natural cycle, and how many dont. the list goes on and on, and quite frankly, if i am wrong, i do fall in that 'dont care' region. Im a hippy by heart, and have A LOT of respect for earth, i have a lot of understanding with it, and so therefore already place my carbon footprint on a minimum (i dont even drive a car). So all the advertising about Global Warming etc, is fruitless in my eyes. There is a HUGE profit margin brought into government(worldwide), and it drives the speed of which technology is brought out...but just how much do the companies ACTUALLY MAKING the 'reduce carbon emissions' gadgets etc, change the equipment/machines used? or change the techniques used? all its corporate world is doing, is changing shoes, but keeping the same size foot.

      Peter-Peter - 2012-04-23 14:21

      Pretty much Tony...just remember... • 7 billion people, of which say, roughly, 3 billion are literate (in a sense of computers and 'know how') • out of those 3 billion, 1 billion actually follow up on global warming. • out of those 1 billion, 500 million couldn't do without the appliances they have and already run on what they consider 'bare minimum', • out of those 500 million, you have to consider, how many people actually care, and who doesnt, how many people believe in it being the earths natural cycle, and how many dont. the list goes on and on, and quite frankly, if i am wrong, i do fall in that 'dont care' region. Im a hippy by heart, and have A LOT of respect for earth, i have a lot of understanding with it, and so therefore already place my carbon footprint on a minimum (i dont even drive a car). So all the advertising about Global Warming etc, is fruitless in my eyes. There is a HUGE profit margin brought into government(worldwide), and it drives the speed of which technology is brought out...but just how much do the companies ACTUALLY MAKING the 'reduce carbon emissions' gadgets etc, change the equipment/machines used? or change the techniques used? all its corporate world is doing, is changing shoes, but keeping the same size foot.

      Peter-Peter - 2012-04-23 14:38

      Ernst, In order to be successful, you have to be willing to make sacrifices. considering how much money is PUT INTO advertising etc...its just a minuscule amount of how much GDP its brings in. Those billions is therefore, money well spent. You throw in a nickel you get a dollar. Why stop the fear if you have now got a well oiled machine? If its not broken, dont fix it. With ice ages happening in the past (without human), what does that tell you? THAT IT HAPPENS...and it WILL HAPPEN AGAIN. By us playing around with it and trying to prevent it...now THAT is a waste of money...because its the WORLD we talking about...its HUGE and DEFINATLY much stronger than us. What happens when you hold up something...and it keeps getting bigger? we wont be able to hold it back for very long, and when its happens, it will be much stronger that it would have been in the first place. Do you know why we have wind? its so that the climate can regulate itself. Can you imagine holding back the wind? Human beings must get off their high horse, and realise that we are not the most powerful force in our corner of the cosmos. We are just bacteria. We cant stop global warming, its inevitable. because of my love for earth, im already at peace with it.

      Peter-Peter - 2012-04-23 14:38

      Ernst, In order to be successful, you have to be willing to make sacrifices. considering how much money is PUT INTO advertising etc...its just a minuscule amount of how much GDP its brings in. Those billions is therefore, money well spent. You throw in a nickel you get a dollar. Why stop the fear if you have now got a well oiled machine? If its not broken, dont fix it. With ice ages happening in the past (without human), what does that tell you? THAT IT HAPPENS...and it WILL HAPPEN AGAIN. By us playing around with it and trying to prevent it...now THAT is a waste of money...because its the WORLD we talking about...its HUGE and DEFINATLY much stronger than us. What happens when you hold up something...and it keeps getting bigger? we wont be able to hold it back for very long, and when its happens, it will be much stronger that it would have been in the first place. Do you know why we have wind? its so that the climate can regulate itself. Can you imagine holding back the wind? Human beings must get off their high horse, and realise that we are not the most powerful force in our corner of the cosmos. We are just bacteria. We cant stop global warming, its inevitable. because of my love for earth, im already at peace with it.

      Tony Lapson - 2012-04-23 15:19

      "Humans must get off their high horses.... Humans are bacteria" Bacteria (humans) also causes bad gas in our intestines when we put junk into it and can ultimately rot your body (earth).... Yeah, everybody dies eventually (just like the world will eventually cease to support life), but how you treat your body(or earth) at the moment will affect your quality of life eventually, for the good or the bad.

      Tony Lapson - 2012-04-23 15:19

      "Humans must get off their high horses.... Humans are bacteria" Bacteria (humans) also causes bad gas in our intestines when we put junk into it and can ultimately rot your body (earth).... Yeah, everybody dies eventually (just like the world will eventually cease to support life), but how you treat your body(or earth) at the moment will affect your quality of life eventually, for the good or the bad.

      Ernst - 2012-04-23 15:45

      @Peter-Peter: "We cant stop global warming, its inevitable. because of my love for.." If current levels of greenhouse gass emissions continue from human activity, the earth is set for 5 or more degree warming by 2050. So no, contrary to what you are saying, we can limit the damage by changing our energy sources. Lastly, we have a responsiblity to future generations in terms of leaving them with a healthy and stable environment.

      Ernst - 2012-04-23 15:45

      @Peter-Peter: "We cant stop global warming, its inevitable. because of my love for.." If current levels of greenhouse gass emissions continue from human activity, the earth is set for 5 or more degree warming by 2050. So no, contrary to what you are saying, we can limit the damage by changing our energy sources. Lastly, we have a responsiblity to future generations in terms of leaving them with a healthy and stable environment.

  • Trevor - 2012-04-23 14:46

    @ peter peter and all Climate change skeptics ! All you are doing is passing the responsibility of the fate of our species onto the next generation like the previous did to us ! We treat the only habitabvle planet that we know of like a rubbish dump, and if you think the impact of man is miniscule you are severly naive, compounded with natural greenhouse emmitters 7 BILLION people and in next 20 years 9 BILLIOn people will send the climate into a unstoppable locamotive that will see life as we know it mowed down > wake up and stop passing the buck , naivity is just a fancy way of being stupid without the guilt !

      Peter-Peter - 2012-04-23 14:59

      Trevor...you should never judge. In my eyes Earth is the hero, humans are bacteria...eating away at our host. I really hope that after we are gone, Earth doesn't produce another brain with the ability to invent the wheel. We 'came out swinging' without a care of 'where the ball will land' dug ourselves into this mess. I do feel sorry for future generations...but they will be brought up at-least with global warming in their minds, unlike most of us in todays times, where its new news. So they will be much more successful, but all its doing is delaying the inevitable.

      Peter-Peter - 2012-04-23 14:59

      Trevor...you should never judge. In my eyes Earth is the hero, humans are bacteria...eating away at our host. I really hope that after we are gone, Earth doesn't produce another brain with the ability to invent the wheel. We 'came out swinging' without a care of 'where the ball will land' dug ourselves into this mess. I do feel sorry for future generations...but they will be brought up at-least with global warming in their minds, unlike most of us in todays times, where its new news. So they will be much more successful, but all its doing is delaying the inevitable.

      Trevor Blumberg - 2012-04-24 10:36

      @ peter yes man acts like a bacteria , but if you happy being wiped off the planet go ahead , i have hope that we can evolve to treat the earth as a home that is worth saving

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