Thursday 31 October 2013

The methane emergency

Greenland Sea hit by M5.3 Earthquake

An earthquake with a magnitude of 5.3 on the Richter scale hit the Greenland Sea near Svalbard on October 28, 2013.

[ Earthquake indicated by orange dot - click on image to enlarge ]

30 October, 2013

For a long time, huge sea surface temperature anomalies have shown up in the area where the earthquake hit. The image below compares the situation before and after the earthquake hit.

[ click on image to enlarge ]

These huge sea surface temperature anomalies were discussed before, in the September 19, 2013, post Is the North Pole now ice-free?

This post mentions that sea surface temperatures in some spots close to Svalbard are far higher than even in the waters closer to the Atlantic Ocean. In some of these spots, sea surface temperatures are well over 10°C (50°F).

The post continues: Where does this heat come from? These hot spots could be caused by undersea volcanic activity; this is the more dangerous as this area has seen methane bubbling up from destabilized hydrates before; the dangers of this situation have been discussed repeatedly, e.g. in the April 2011 post Runaway Global Warming.

Indeed, the big danger is large abrupt release of methane from destabilized hydrates. At the moment, the amount of methane entering the atmosphere over the Arctic Ocean is already huge, as illustrated by the image below that shows high methane readings over the past few days.

We'll keep monitoring the situation.

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