Methane bubbles in Arctic seas - more questions, fewer answers
2010 03 06

By Alister Doyle | Reuters.com


Large amounts of a powerful greenhouse gas are bubbling up from a long-frozen seabed north of Siberia, raising fears of far bigger leaks that could stoke global warming, scientists said.

It was unclear, however, if the Arctic emissions of methane gas were new or had been going on unnoticed for centuries -- since before the Industrial Revolution of the 18th century led to wide use of fossil fuels that are blamed for climate change.

The study said about 8 million tonnes of methane a year, equivalent to the annual total previously estimated from all of the world’s oceans, were seeping from vast stores long trapped under permafrost below the seabed north of Russia.

"Subsea permafrost is losing its ability to be an impermeable cap," Natalia Shakhova, a scientist at the University of Fairbanks, Alaska, said in a statement. She co-led the study published in Friday’s edition of the journal Science.

The experts measured levels of methane, a gas that can be released by rotting vegetation, in water and air at 5,000 sites on the East Siberian Arctic Shelf from 2003-08. In some places, methane was bubbling up from the seabed.

Previously, the sea floor had been considered an impermeable barrier sealing methane, Shakhova said. Current methane concentrations in the Arctic are the highest in 400,000 years.

GLOBAL WARMING

"No one can answer this question," she said of whether the venting was caused by global warming or by natural factors. But a projected rise in temperatures could quicken the thaw.

"It’s good that these emissions are documented. But you cannot say they’re increasing," Martin Heimann, an expert at the Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry in Germany who wrote a separate article on methane in Science, told Reuters.

"These leaks could have been occurring all the time" since the last Ice Age 10,000 years ago, he said. He wrote that the release of 8 million tonnes of methane a year was "negligible" compared to global emissions of about 440 million tonnes.

Shakhova’s study said there was an "urgent need" to monitor the region for possible future changes since permafrost traps vast amounts of methane, the second most common greenhouse gas from human activities after carbon dioxide.

Monitoring could resolve if the venting was "a steadily ongoing phenomenon or signals the start of a more massive release period," according to the scientists, based at U.S., Russian and Swedish research institutions.

The release of just a "small fraction of the methane held in (the) East Siberian Arctic Shelf sediments could trigger abrupt climate warming," they wrote.

The shelf has sometimes been above sea level during the earth’s history. When submerged, temperatures rise by 12-17 degrees Celsius (22-31 F) since water is warmer than air. Over thousands of years, that may thaw submerged permafrost.

About 60 percent of methane now comes from human activities such as landfills, cattle rearing or rice paddies. Natural sources such as wetlands make up the rest, along with poorly understood sources such as the oceans, wildfires or termites.

Most studies about methane focus on permafrost on land. But the shelf below the Laptev, East Siberian and Russian part of the Chuckchi sea is three times the size of Siberia’s wetlands.

Article from: Reuters.com



Also tune into:

Peter Taylor - The Corporatization of the Environmental Movement

Tim Ball - Climategate & The Anthropogenic Global Warming Fraud

James Follett - The Church of Global Warming

Jerry E. Smith - Global Warming

Jerry E. Smith - The "Green" Conspiracy

Michael Coffman - Global Warming Science

Michael Coffman - Global Governance

David Icke - The Global Conspiracy



Related Articles
Fears of Undersea Methane Leaks Already Coming True
Has Methane Started Venting From Seafloor?
Mars May Still Be A Living Planet, Methane In Atmosphere Reveals
Baby girl survives after being shot in the chest in parents’ ’global warming suicide pact’
75 Reasons to be Skeptical of "Global Warming"
Former IPCC Chair: IPCC Has a Warming "Bias"
Climategate U-turn as scientist at centre of row admits: There has been no global warming since 1995
The Church of Global Warming


Latest News from our Front Page

James Foley Beheading: What They’re Not Telling You
2014 08 27
The latest poster child for military expansion in the middle east poses a host of disturbing questions. --- Experts: James Foley Beheading Video Likely Fake By Paul Joseph Watson| Infowars Forensic analysis confirms Infowars investigation that footage was staged as war propaganda Confirming Infowars’ analysis on Thursday, British forensic experts have concluded that the ISIS beheading video involving James Foley was in all likelihood ...
US forces move into Syria as Barack Obama paves way for airstrikes on ISIS
2014 08 27
US forces move into Syria: Obama paves way for airstrikes on ISIS after sending in spy planes - despite Assad warning that any attack will be seen as ’aggression’ Barack Obama has paved the way for airstrikes against ISIS targets in Syria after spy planes started operating in the country on his command, according to U.S officials. While the White ...
Stop creating a climate of fear!
2014 08 27
ok. listen up political correct people! if you’re someone who reflexively calls others “racists” or “neofascists” without first checking into whether or not they actually are, you need to STOP it, because you’re creating a climate of fear in which people are afraid to do their jobs. and now i’m not talking about some academics sitting comfortably in their ivy towers, ...
Gov. Jerry Brown to Mexican Illegals: ’You’re All Welcome in California’
2014 08 27
On Monday evening, California Governor Jerry Brown said all Mexicans, including illegal immigrants, are welcome in California. According to the Los Angeles Times, while introducing Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto, who said America is "the other Mexico," Brown "spoke about the interwoven histories of Mexico and California." He "nodded to the immigrants in the room, saying it didn’t matter if ...
Election Posters in New Sweden
2014 08 27
Swedish prime minister Fredrik Reinfeldt has promised continued mass immigration at the expense of welfare reform and tax cuts. Reinfeldt’s Moderates party consequently does everything in their power to recruit immigrants’ votes. Placards for the forthcoming elections, widely distributed in immigrant-dominated enclaves in Sweden, has Arabic text, the language that now increasingly is dominating major parts of "New Sweden." In the ...
More News »