The most qualified scientists fear we’ll soon trigger the worst outcome on our current path. Runaway heating from positive Arctic feedbacks is only a few decades away, at most a hundred years. Climate scientists Dr. Natalia Shakhova and Dr. Igor Semiletov, who’ve studied the Arctic for a decade, are sure. They say that all of the stabilizing processes are anomalous.
In layman’s terms they’re saying that every process keeping methane stable is anomalous. And by anomalous they mean abnormal … frighteningly abnormal.
In this excerpt, Dan Miller gives us background on Arctic Methane.
Here Dr Shakhova speaks for herself and Dr. Semiletov. Scientists speaking professionally aren’t allowed to show fear. You may notice that Dr. Shakhova avoids eye contact with the camera. She touches her face, her chin. A trained eye sees the body language of fear.
An impressive list of scientists contributed to the 71 minute video Arctic Death Spiral and the Methane Time Bomb. Some parts are harder to grasp as spoken language has halts, rephrasing, and sometimes poor grammar.
Transcripts of the remix videos are attached (below), but these paraphrases are concise.
Paraphrase for Dan Miller
The Arctic stores methane.
It’s currently melting.
The average world temperature is only up a degree but in the Arctic it’s up five degrees.
The Arctic is releasing fifty million tons of methane per year, and rising.
If it all went up we’d basically all be dead.
It’s happening now.
Once those accelerating processes generate more CO2 than we do, it’ll keep going even if we stopped completely.
These are positive feedback loops, and they aren’t in the climate models.
Climate Models without positive feedback loops are as helpful a description of climate as a "scientific model" of a matchstick which leaves out the head.
Paraphrase for Natalia Shakhova
There is a potential risk that if warming continues a massive amount of methane could be released from this Arctic shelf.
The Siberian Arctic Shelf has the most potential risk because the carbon pool is huge, the wall of the shell is very shallow, and warming is stronger there than other areas of the world ocean.
The current atmosphere has about 5 Gigatonnes of methane. The East Siberian Arctic shelf has approximately hundreds to thousands of Gigatonnes.
Only one percent of that amount would double the atmosphere burden of methane. Not much effort would be needed to destabilize one percent of this carbon pool, because of
- The state of the permafrost
- The amount of methane involved
- What divides this methane from the atmosphere is a very shallow water column and a weakening permafrost, losing its ability to seal.
It’s a matter of decades, at most a hundred years.
Many factors convince us that a runaway process might happen.
Igor Semiletov is convinced because he spent a lot of time over there, and where the ice should be about two meters thick it was forty centimeters thick. All of the processes that stabilize everything look anomalous, in the sea, the ice, the water column, and the currents under the ice. Because everything looks anomalous he thinks that the worst might happen.
Thanks for the shocking education!
I hear you.
Methane bubbling out of East Siberian continental slope methane hydrates is likely a result of warmer water reaching the Arctic Ocean from the Gulf Stream.
Just a week into the sampling program and SWERUS-C3 scientists have discovered vast methane plumes escaping from the seafloor of the Laptev continental slope.
”This was somewhat of a surprise,” writes chief scientist Örjan Gustafsson, Stockholm University, ... He speculates that the leaking methane from the seafloor of the continental slope may have its origins in collapsing “methane hydrates,” clusters of methane trapped in frozen water due to high pressure and low temperature.
“While there has been much speculation about the vulnerability of regular marine hydrates along the continental slopes of the Arctic rim, very few actual observations of methane releases due to collapsing marine hydrates on the Arctic slope have been made,” ...
Örjan Gustafsson thinks that the mechanism behind the presence of methane seeps at these depths may have something to do with the ”tongue” of relatively warm Atlantic water, presumably intruding across the Arctic Ocean at 200-600 m depths.” Some evidence have shown that this water mass has recently become warmer. As this warm Atlantic water, the last remnants of the Gulf Stream, propagates eastward along the upper slope of the East Siberian margin, it may lead to destabilization of methane hydrates on the upper portion of the slope. This may be what we are now seeing for the first time,” writes Örjan Gustafsson. [emphasis mine, excepting for first sentence]
Methane release details. They're calling it a megaflare. See first image below. They knew it wasn't from permafrost, because the ship was over areas without permafrost. See second image below.
Methane megaflare on Laptev Sea slope at around 62m depth. "We are “sniffing” methane. We see the bubbles on video from the camera mounted on the CTD or the Multicorer. All analysis tells the signs. We are in a Mega flare. We see it in the water column we read it above the surface an we follow it up high into the sky with radars and lasers. We see it mixed in the air and carried away with the winds. Methane in the air." Ulf Hedman, Science Coordinator, Swedish Polar Research Secretariat
SWERUS expedition preliminary cruise plan and study areas of Leg 1 and 2. EEZ=Exclusive Economic Zone; LR=Lomonosov Ridge; MR=Mendeleev Ridge; HC=Herald Canyon; NSI=New Siberian Islands.
As soon as the above researchers left the area, satellite measurements showed a huge eruption of methane from the East Siberian Sea (red circle). This isn't good.
As the top image above shows, peak levels as high as 2363 ppb were recorded at an altitude of 19,820 ft (6041 m) on the morning of August 12, 2014. The middle image shows that huge quantities of methane continued to be present over the East Siberian Sea that afternoon, while the bottom image shows that methane levels as high as 2441 ppb were recorded a few days earlier, further indicating that the methane did indeed originate from the seafloor of the East Siberian Sea.
Huge quantities of methane are erupting from the seafloor of the East Siberian Sea and entering the atmosphere over the Arctic Ocean.
Ironically, the methane started to erupt just as an international team of scientists from Sweden, Russia and the U.S. (SWERUS-C3), visiting the Arctic Ocean to measure methane, had ended their research.
Methane eruptions from the Arctic Ocean's seafloor helped push up mean global methane levels to readings as high as 1832 ppb on August 12, 2014. [emphasis mine]
The article shows warm water from both the Pacific
and Atlantic penetrating the Arctic Circle.