Oh. Oh this is just freaking great...

>> Saturday, October 04, 2008

Let's sketch out a picture.

Take methane, CH4. Greenhouse gas. Pretty efficient one, too: twenty-five times more efficient at locking up thermal radiation than good ol' CO2, the one we always like to talk about. Now, imagine that a whole bunch of CH4, sealed up by permafrost at the bottom of the Arctic Ocean. Tons of it. Vast reservoirs.

Not going anywhere, right? Ha. You know what's coming. Humor me and imagine the next paragraph delivered in the finest Robert Shaw-Quint-"cage goes in the water" dry monotone:

Ocean temperature is rising. Maybe it's caused by people and maybe it's caused by sunspots. Discuss among yourselves, because it may not matter. Ocean temperature is rising, and the permafrost is doing what it does when it warms up: it's thawing. And when it thaws, that methane is doing what it does, it's rising up, bubbling up from the bottom of the Arctic Ocean and showing up in the atmosphere. And when it does that, it's trapping infrared radiation like a good greenhouse gas, twenty-five times more efficient than CO2, and it's making the atmosphere warmer which is making the ocean warmer--and the ocean temperature rises, and the permafrost at the bottom of the Arctic Ocean is doing what it does when it warms up, and the methane trapped underneath is doing what it does....

From The Independent, "The methane time bomb":

Orjan Gustafsson of Stockholm University in Sweden, one of the leaders of the expedition, described the scale of the methane emissions in an email exchange sent from the Russian research ship Jacob Smirnitskyi.

"We had a hectic finishing of the sampling programme yesterday and this past night," said Dr Gustafsson. "An extensive area of intense methane release was found. At earlier sites we had found elevated levels of dissolved methane. Yesterday, for the first time, we documented a field where the release was so intense that the methane did not have time to dissolve into the seawater but was rising as methane bubbles to the sea surface. These 'methane chimneys' were documented on echo sounder and with seismic [instruments]."

At some locations, methane concentrations reached 100 times background levels. These anomalies have been seen in the East Siberian Sea and the Laptev Sea, covering several tens of thousands of square kilometres, amounting to millions of tons of methane, said Dr Gustafsson. "This may be of the same magnitude as presently estimated from the global ocean," he said. "Nobody knows how many more such areas exist on the extensive East Siberian continental shelves.


Farewell and adieu to you, fair Spanish ladies....

Say, here's a random (no pun intended) thought: the other week some folks were talking about how affectionate their cats were acting.

I wonder what made me think of that all of a sudden?

Yep.

We're doomed.

And our cats feel sorry for us.


4 comments:

Random Michelle K Saturday, October 4, 2008 at 9:26:00 AM EDT  

You're welcome to come hang out in my (soon to be) ocean front property.

Jeri Saturday, October 4, 2008 at 12:15:00 PM EDT  

Where do you find this stuff?

And this is helpful to my last year's NaNoWriMo book that I've *never* finished editing, so thank you! I have about 20 days now. ;)

Eric Saturday, October 4, 2008 at 12:23:00 PM EDT  

Boing Boing and Slashdot are part of my Morning Coffee, and then there are assorted blogs that show up in my RSS feed. I don't remember exactly how this one came to my attention--I think it was Slashdotted.

Shawn Powers Saturday, October 4, 2008 at 1:14:00 PM EDT  

I'm often accused of excess methane emissions as well. I call it one of my Rights of Fatherhood.

But ocean farts? Yeah, that stinks.

(Har har har)

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