Monday, 10 July 2017

"Galloping climate change" - the media acknowledges exponential change

When I started this blog there was very little in mainstream media about climate change – fullstop.

Now they are starting to get used to the idea of exponential change

Mysterious Explosions In Siberia Are Signs Of Galloping Climate Change

7 July, 2017

Siberia is no stranger to mysterious explosions. In 1908, a blast flattened an entire forest and the exact cause of the Tunguska Event is still debated. More recent explosions, by far less powerful, but still dangerous, seem to be caused by climate change.

Pothole lakes in Siberia. Source and Credit NASA Earth Observatory
NASA Earth Observatory
Pothole lakes in Siberia. Source and Credit NASA Earth Observatory

According to a reindeer herder of the Jamal Peninsula, on the morning of June 28, he heard a loud blast and a column of smoke rising from the ground. The explosion he heard created a crater with a diameter of 25 feet and almost 65 feet deep. A video andpublished images by Alexander Sokolov, Russian Academy of Sciences, show the crater, now partially filled with water and surrounded by larger chunks of soil.

Locals also report that two years ago, the ground at the site started to rise, forming a hill. It was this hill that now suddenly exploded. Another similar, more powerful explosion occurred in 2013, which had a blast that was heard over a distance of 62 miles.

When first reports about the mysterious craters in Siberia appeared some years ago, it was not clear what caused them. It's also not entirely clear how often such craters form. Many seem to be filled with peated water, and the locals refer to them as 'black holes'. However, more and more craters or explosions have been reported by locals in the last two years. At first, possible explanations for the craters included sinkholes or even impacts of small meteorites.

However, the real cause seems to be sudden bursts of methane from the ground, or, possibly, explosions fueled by the flammable gas. The origin of the methane is not entirely clear, as it can derive from inorganic processes, like volcanism or bubbling out from underground reservoirs, but it can also be a waste product of microorganisms living in the soil. The microbial origin could explain a recent observation - that natural gas leaks from the ground are becoming more frequent in subarctic regions. Large areas of Siberia are formed by permafrost, perennially frozen ground. If the permafrost thaws, microbial activity starts to exponentially rise. By digesting and decomposing organic material preserved in the previously frozen soil, large amounts of methane are released by the thriving microorganisms.

Climate data for the last decades show an increase of the mean temperatures in the region. The summer of 2016 was also extraordinarily hot, with temperatures reaching as high as 95°F. A survey in 2017 found more than 6,000-7,000 small hills dotting the landscape, probably formed by bubbles of methane pushing up the soil and vegetation. In 2016, scientists had reported only fifteen of such underground bubbles.

In the bubbles, the concentration of greenhouse gases, like methane and carbon dioxide, is almost 1,000 times higher than in the surrounding environment. When the bubble explodes it not only poses a danger to bystanders, it releases the greenhouse gases into Earth's atmosphere. Scientists fear that this mechanism could become a self-reinforcing process. As temperatures rise worldwide, more greenhouse gases are released from thawing permafrost, contributing to further warming of the Earth.

Famine, economic collapse, a sun that cooks us: What climate change could wreak — sooner than you think.

It is, I promise, worse than you think. If your anxiety about global warming is dominated by fears of sea-level rise, you are barely scratching the surface of what terrors are possible, even within the lifetime of a teenager today. And yet the swelling seas — and the cities they will drown — have so dominated the picture of global warming, and so overwhelmed our capacity for climate panic, that they have occluded our perception of other threats, many much closer at hand. Rising oceans are bad, in fact very bad; but fleeing the coastline will not be enough.

Indeed, absent a significant adjustment to how billions of humans conduct their lives, parts of the Earth will likely become close to uninhabitable, and other parts horrifically inhospitable, as soon as the end of this century.....

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