In the last few days articles have been appearing in the corporate media detailing methane releases in the Arctic with the East Siberian Arctic shelf which is close to many of our hearts and minds due to it’s shallowness and vulnerability to destabilisation of the carbon and methane clathrate reserves reported on by Dr Natalia Shakova and her colleague Dr Igor Semiletov and by the worlds leading expert Dr Peter Wadhams.
“There are large uncertainties about tipping points that may be ahead of us, but for some systems, especially biological evidence in the oceans, we have already evidence that the tipping point has been passed.”
“Professor Peter Wadhams, professor of ocean physics at the University of Cambridge, said the report had failed to mention the “very serious threat” of methane rising from the seabed of the Arctic continental shelf as its permafrost thaws, potentially contributing large amounts of extra greenhouse gas.”
Professor McPherson and I covered “Tipping Points” in the August episode our NBL interview with Andrew Glikson from The Australian National University
I take one exception with this paragraph in The Telegraph article ; “The planet has warmed to 1C above pre-industrial temperatures, and around 90 per cent of that excess heat has been absorbed by the oceans, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change said.” That is simply not true and down plays the severity of the crisis in real time. The IPCC is playing fast and loose with baseline dates that have beed covered on this blog previously and by my esteemed colleague Sam Carana from The Arctic News Blog who had us at 1.73C above the 1750 baseline in April 2018
“Unveiling the latest report in Monaco on Wednesday, panel-member Valerie Masson-Delmotte, said: “Climate change is already irreversible due to the heat uptake in the ocean.”
“We can’t go back, whatever we do with our emissions.”
“According to the new forecasts, approximately 70 per cent of the world’s permafrost will thaw if emissions continue to rise. This in turn could free up “tens to hundreds of billions of tonnes” of CO2 and methane into the atmosphere, further heating the planet.”
“Scientists in Siberia have discovered an area of sea that is “boiling” with methane, with bubbles that can be scooped from the water with buckets. Researchers on an expedition to the East Siberian Sea said the “methane fountain” was unlike anything they had seen before, with concentrations of the gas in the region to be six to seven times higher than the global average.”
The primary significance of this response form Igor Semiletov saying the discharges were “unlike anything they had seen before” is a very, very disturbing development. Very few scientist have his level of field research.
“The team, led by Igor Semiletov, from Tomsk Polytechnic University in Russia, traveled to an area of the Eastern Arctic previously known to produce methane fountains. They were studying the environmental consequences of permafrost thawing beneath the ocean.”
For those of us researchers following the seminal work of Dr’s Natalia Shakova and Igor Semiletov this latest data whilst not being surprising is terrifying in it’s implications.
Have a listen to this seminal presentation from DR Shakova;
Finally this sailor will give you an indication of how large there methane plumes can be;
“A TRAWLER found at the bottom of the North Sea may have sunk after being trapped in a giant gas bubble.”
“Scientists from the University of Sunderland discovered the fishing boat off Aberdeen, 450ft below the surface, on a patch of sea bed known as Witch’s Hole. They think the crew were the victims of a rare and terrifying phenomenon.”
“Methane gas bubbling up from the seabed reduces the density of water to a point where a trawler can no longer float, said Alan Judd, a marine geologist who led the investigation. He said: “Any ship caught above would sink as if it were in a lift shaft. No trace of the vessel or its crew would remain. Even those who jumped overboard in lifejackets would sink.”
Good luck everyone.