Tuesday 23 July 2019

NOT TO BE MISSED interview with Dr. Peter Wadhams

This is one of the best interviews I have heard in a long time.

In this interview Peter Wadhams covers the denial (and consequential censorship) by the mainstream scientific community for no better reason that they think it can't be happening (and therefore it isn't).

One of the biggest problems I see right now is with certitude. All we can say is that based on the knowledge we have this is the conclusion we reach. There are many uncertainties in the science and all we can do is to infer the outcome from the evidence we have.

Interview with Dr. Peter Wadhams

23 June, 2019

Please watch this very important interview with Dr. Peter Wadhams. He is professor of Ocean Physics, and Head of the Polar Ocean Physics Group in the Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics, University of Cambridge. Here he discusses the very real threat of abrupt releases of methane from the East Siberian Arctic Shelf (ESAS). He discusses what has been termed scientific reticence and (in his words) a "lack of objectivity" among some in the scientific community and those funding scientists' research, as well as issues in the peer-review process (also discussed by Dr. Natalia Shakhova who has conducted extensive Arctic methane research). There is also the problem of observational science evidence being set aside in favor of modeling which need the observations to correct them.

In this interview, Dr. Wadhams stated that he's not certain there has ever been a modeled study on the global effect of an abrupt methane release. Last year, I did find a study (Obata & Shibata, 2012), discussing the global effect and vegetation biomass damage from a sudden 1000-fold increase in atmospheric methane concentration specifically from methane hydrates (<1 ppm to 1000 ppm). It is from 2012, but it is really the best paper I have found on the issue, particularly the use of an Earth System Model to understand impacts. See the attachment below. Here is the abstract:

Decadal-time-scale responses of climate and the global carbon cycle to warming associated with rapid increases in atmospheric methane from a massive methane release from marine sedimentary methane hydrates are investigated with a coupled climate–carbon cycle model. A 1000-fold methane increase (from <1 to 1000 ppmv) causes surface air temperatures to increase with a global warming of >6°C within 80 yr. The amount of carbon stored in the land biosphere decreases by >25%. This is mostly due to a large decrease in tropical net primary production during the first few years (~−40%), which is caused by a decrease in photosynthesis and an increase in plant maintenance respiration with the early warming of ~3°C, leading to tropical forest dieback (>20%) and the largest decrease in vegetation carbon of >50% (~80% of the decrease in global vegetation carbon). The decrease in global land carbon is also partly due to forest diebacks (mainly boreal forest dieback by heat stress) at northern middle latitudes. In contrast, vegetation increases by >50% at northern high latitudes because of the amelioration to warm and wet conditions. Sensitivity experiments show that the warming of >6°C consists mainly of >5°C by the 1000-fold atmospheric methane and an additional increase of 1°C by the atmospheric CO2 increase due to the land CO2 release and that the CO2 fertilization of land plants prevents further warming of 1°C by limiting the atmospheric CO2 increase. The large decrease in land biomass estimated in this study suggests a critical situation for the land ecosystem or agricultural production, especially in the tropics. Because global methane content of marine methane hydrates is estimated at ~10 000 Gt, more intense warming leading to greater damage to the land biomass than the authors’ experiment (~2000 Gt) is possible in the future methane release event that would be caused by the ongoing anthropogenic warming. 
You can learn more about the methane danger and permafrost melt HERE, HERE, HERE , HERE , and HERE.

My thoughts -with these rapid changes underway, the likelihood is high that there will be sudden, irreversible and discontinuous change to an unfamiliar climate state very quickly. This will be caused by tipping points and such change will be on the order of years. This has been noted in Dansgaard-Oeschger events (during ice age/interglacial transitions), and during the Paleogene-Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM) 55 million years ago (which may have included a huge spike in global temps within just a decade). I discuss more about Earth System Nonlinearity HERE.
And, in fact this may already be happening with regards to the ongoing abrupt collapse of Arctic and global sea ice.

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