Thursday, 16 March 2017

Methane eruptions fromArctic Ocean take off

Methane Erupting From Arctic Ocean Seafloor

15 March, 2017

Seafloor methane often missed in measurements

Large amounts of methane are erupting from the seafloor of the Arctic Ocean. These methane eruptions are often missed by measuring stations, because these stations are located on land, while measurements are typically taken at low altitude, thus missing the methane that rises in plumes from the Arctic Ocean. By the time the methane reaches the coast, it has typically risen to higher altitudes, thus not showing up in low-altitude measurements taken at stations on land.

The image below shows the highest mean global methane levels on March 10 over the years from 2013 through 2017, for selected altitudes corresponding to 945 mb (close to sea level) to 74 mb. 

The table below shows the altitude equivalents in feet (ft), meter (m) and millibar (mb).
57,016 ft
44,690 ft
36,850 ft
30,570 ft
25,544 ft
19,820 ft
14,385 ft
 8,368 ft
1,916 ft
17,378 m
13,621 m
11,232 m
 9,318 m
 7,786 m
 6,041 m
 4,384 m
 2,551 m
 584 m
 74 mb
 147 mb
 218 mb
 293 mb
 367 mb
 469 mb
 586 mb
 742 mb
 945 mb

The signature of seafloor methane
Above image shows that, over the years, methane levels have risen strongly high in the Troposphere, up into the Stratosphere. This looks like the signature of methane that originated from the seafloor of the Arctic Ocean. The image below further explains why.

The Tropopause separates the Troposphere from the Stratosphere. The Tropophere ends at a height of some 9 km (5.6 mi; 30,000 ft) at the poles, and at a height of some 17 km (11 mi; 56,000 ft) at the Equator.

As said, methane is erupting from the seafloor of the Arctic Ocean concentrated in plumes, unlike methane from wetlands and agriculture that is typically emitted over a wide area. Since seafloor methane is rising in plumes, it hardly shows up on satellite images at lower altitude either, as the methane is very concentrated inside the area of the plume, while little or no increase in methane levels is taking place outside the plume. Since the plume will cover less than half the area of one pixel, such a plume doesn't show up well at low altitudes on satellite images,

Methane over the Arctic typically does show up on satellite images at altitudes between 4.4 km and 6 km (14,400 ft and 19,800 ft). Seafloor methane will show up better at these higher altitudes where it spreads out over larger areas. At even higher altitudes, methane will then follow the Tropopause, i.e. the methane will rise in altitude while moving closer to the equator.
NOAA image

In conclusion, methane originating from the seafloor of the Arctic Ocean can strongly contribute to high methane levels that show up over the Equator at higher altitudes, but this methane can be misinterpreted for methane originating from tropical wetlands.

Why is methane erupting from the Arctic Ocean?

Why are increasingly large quantities of methane erupting from the seafloor of the Arctic Ocean? The main driver is warming of the Arctic Ocean that is destabilizing once-permanently-frozen sediments that contain huge amounts of methane in the form of hydrates and free gas. Ocean heat is increasingly entering the Arctic Ocean from the Atlantic Ocean, as illustrated by the images below, from earlier posts (see links further below).

Self-reinforcing feedback loops

Meanwhile, the next El Niño event has already started.

[ click on images to enlarge ]

Above images shows ECMWF (European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts) plumes with strong positive anomalies in all three El Niño regions (on the right).

In other words, temperatures in 2017 look set to be very high, which spells bad news for the Arctic where temperature anomalies are already several times higher than in the rest of the world.

Arctic sea ice looks set to take a steep fall, as illustrated by the image below.

The danger is that self-reinforcing feedback loops such as albedo decline and methane releases will further accelerate warming and will, in combination with further warming elements, cause a temperature rise as high as 10°C or 18°F by the year 2026, as described at the 
extinction page.

The situation is dire and calls for comprehensive and effective action as described in the 
Climate Plan.


• Climate Plan

• Extinction

• Warning of mass extinction of species, including humans, within one decade

• Low sea ice extent contributes to high methane levels at both poles

• Noctilucent clouds indicate more methane in upper atmosphere

• Noctilucent clouds: further confirmation of large methane releases

1 comment:

  1. How can we cool the oceans? Ships with refrigeration pipes? We have the answer in geology. Super Volcanoes Uturuncu, Yellowstone, and Campi Flegrei have shown signs of awakening, and they could cool the oceans with years and years of global winter. -10*F in two years global. We are now really at 4*F. At which point in the curve does it hit 10*F? If 2026 is +18*F. Linear would be +2*F per year. I think we have 21 months to do an aerosol event to prevent extinction of most species. Mass death with underground survival on supplies and dormancy survival up to its limits. I think three lifts of 200 cubic miles with sulfate enhancement are needed 5 years apart for a net 15 year aerosol winter, by nukes, with safe shutdown of all nuclear power plants. Unless Uturuncu actually erupts, which is what I pray for, followed by the ice age. We are in perfect position. Earth's sustainability would be low until the next interglacial, where hopefully wiser people will prevail. Otherwise it is thermal max +13.2 to maybe even 14*C, beating the Permian, and 100,000 years of 200,0000 foot thick clouds and storms, with only bacteria species and extremophiles, with jellyfish surviving and evolving surface life in 2 to 5 million years. I wonder what it will be.