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Wed Oct 24, 2012, 01:53 PM

Gulf Stream might be releasing seafloor methane

http://www.sciencenews.org/view/generic/id/346009/description/Gulf_Stream_might_be_releasing_seafloor_methane

While it’s no ice-nine, a frozen form of methane trapped in ocean sediments could be cause for concern. Warm Gulf Stream waters off the east coast of North America are converting large amounts of the substance into methane gas, which could lead to underwater landslides and influence global climate.

A good portion of the biological carbon on Earth is stored in the seafloor as methane hydrate, a frozen mixture of methane and water formed at high pressure and low temperature. Changes in the temperature or direction of the Gulf Stream, which carries warm water north from the Gulf of Mexico, have heated sediments in a strip along the North Atlantic seafloor by 8 degrees Celsius, unlocking 2.5 billion metric tons of methane from deep-sea caches, scientists report in the Oct. 25 Nature.

This is the first study to suggest that methane hydrate melting is related to ocean currents themselves, says study coauthor Benjamin Phrampus, an Earth scientist at Southern Methodist University in Dallas. Previous studies suggested that the global ocean temperature would have to increase to cause hydrate breakdown, which would take a very huge input of energy, he says. “We don’t need this large amount of energy to explain this. It’s simply a change in the ocean currents.”

In Kurt Vonnegut’s 1963 novel Cat’s Cradle, the fictional substance ice-nine crystallizes all liquid water it touches, with the power to wipe out all life on Earth in an instant. The conversion of methane hydrate to gas isn’t nearly so apocalyptic, though. While methane is a much more potent greenhouse gas than CO2, at the depths it’s being released most of the methane will never reach the atmosphere. Instead, it will dissolve in seawater, where microbes will guzzle it up and convert it to CO2. Even if methane does reach the surface, its lifetime in air is only about 10 years.

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Arrow 31 replies Author Time Post
Reply Gulf Stream might be releasing seafloor methane (Original post)
xchrom Oct 2012 OP
formercia Oct 2012 #1
AverageJoe90 Oct 2012 #2
wtmusic Oct 2012 #4
GliderGuider Oct 2012 #8
CRH Oct 2012 #10
OKIsItJustMe Oct 2012 #11
CRH Oct 2012 #13
OKIsItJustMe Oct 2012 #18
OKIsItJustMe Oct 2012 #21
CRH Oct 2012 #22
OKIsItJustMe Oct 2012 #24
AverageJoe90 Oct 2012 #16
CRH Oct 2012 #17
CRH Oct 2012 #20
CRH Oct 2012 #23
Nihil Oct 2012 #26
AverageJoe90 Oct 2012 #27
Nihil Oct 2012 #28
AverageJoe90 Oct 2012 #29
NickB79 Oct 2012 #30
AverageJoe90 Oct 2012 #31
tinrobot Oct 2012 #3
Nihil Oct 2012 #5
OKIsItJustMe Oct 2012 #6
wtmusic Oct 2012 #12
AverageJoe90 Oct 2012 #14
OKIsItJustMe Oct 2012 #19
wtmusic Oct 2012 #25
jonpaulprime Oct 2012 #7
GliderGuider Oct 2012 #9
AverageJoe90 Oct 2012 #15

Response to xchrom (Original post)

Wed Oct 24, 2012, 03:09 PM

1. Food Chain

It will be interesting to see how the Methane will affect the Food Chain.

I've been wondering about the Methane Hydrate issue for a while

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Response to formercia (Reply #1)

Wed Oct 24, 2012, 03:13 PM

2. That's the one thing that may have me a tad concerned. n/t

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Response to formercia (Reply #1)

Wed Oct 24, 2012, 05:58 PM

4. Most gets converted to carbonic acid

Basically, anything with a shell is FUBAR.

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Response to wtmusic (Reply #4)

Thu Oct 25, 2012, 12:51 PM

8. Do you mean methane or CO2?

Technically I think methane oxidizes to carbon dioxide and water first (CH₄+2O₂ -> C0₂+2H₂0), and then the CO₂ reacts with H₂0 to form H₂CO₃.

But the point is valid - the methane that is being released from hydrates starting now will all end up as CO₂, some of it turning the oceans into a shell-dissolving acid bath, while the rest of it stays in the atmosphere to increase the hydrate-melting temperature feedback.

It's a gnarly predicament.

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Response to GliderGuider (Reply #8)

Thu Oct 25, 2012, 02:28 PM

10. Many are awaiting the launch of Merlin, ...

for an accurate flow of hydrate methane into the atmosphere.

If methane hydrates are now releasing farther south in the gulf stream, well this is ominous.

Merlin lider methane detection satellite due for launch sometime in 2014.

If the data supports the conclusions of the following link, then it is best for humanity to get their affairs in order, as no amount of mitigation or adaption will much delay, human extinction.

We can only hope the paper is widely of the mark, because the ANGELS proposal is so far out there, ... well I need not expand.

http://arctic-news.blogspot.com/2012/08/charting-mankinds-expressway-to-extinction.html

Like I say, many await the data, because all else in the face of this, becomes moot.

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Response to CRH (Reply #10)

Thu Oct 25, 2012, 06:01 PM

11. Global average abundances of the major, well-mixed, long-lived greenhouse gases

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Response to OKIsItJustMe (Reply #11)

Thu Oct 25, 2012, 09:17 PM

13. I have a question, these graphs and the linked site you provided, ...

are all surface measurements, is that correct? And, the satellite to be launched in 2014 will be a confirmation of the methane pressure gradients and concentrations in the stratosphere between the ozone and hydrogen, or what is being called the methane global warming veil. Is my reading of this correct? So the satellite will confirm or deny the postulations, of the paper I had linked?

As well, the data from the satellite should give us a greater understanding of methane and ozone migration within the methane global warming veil and the methane stratospheric circulation from Arctic latitudes to the southern hemisphere. The increasing pressure results in the forced down flow of the heavier ozone on its return to the Arctic, forming the barrier between the stratosphere and troposphere. Is this correct, or am I misreading the situation, and the science known to date?

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Response to CRH (Reply #13)

Fri Oct 26, 2012, 09:22 AM

18. Most measurements are from the surface, some are from towers, some are from aircraft

http://www.esrl.noaa.gov/gmd/aggi/

Clearly, a satellite will provide more data, and that’s a good thing!

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Response to CRH (Reply #13)

Fri Oct 26, 2012, 12:01 PM

21. You should understand that satellite observation is already being done

This visualization apparently comes from AIRS data.



Of course, since we don't have observations dating back centuries, it’s difficult to say what’s “normal” and what isn’t.

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Response to OKIsItJustMe (Reply #21)

Fri Oct 26, 2012, 12:19 PM

22. OK thank you for the graphs, information, and links, ...

the more I read the more I wonder the more I think the more I question, the less I'm certain of anything. Seems almost a paradox, certainty and knowledge are always evolving with present and future input.

Thanks again for your input.

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Response to CRH (Reply #22)

Fri Oct 26, 2012, 04:33 PM

24. You’re welcome!

There’s a lot of distorted information out there.

Fortunately there’s a tremendous amount of solid scientific information out there as well.

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Response to CRH (Reply #10)

Fri Oct 26, 2012, 05:56 AM

16. Mitigation is absolutely mandatory nowadays.

Just cutting emissions won't cut it. There's lots of things we can do, but the only problem is, when can they be done.

We can say, for sure, however that there will be no extinction of humanity thanks to AGW.(at least directly) And no, Earth can't turn into Venus, either, because otherwise it would have happened a long time ago when Co2 levels were much, much, higher today.

Also, Michael Brown, of The Ecologist, had this to say about AMEG:

http://www.theecologist.org/blogs_and_comments/commentators/other_comments/1487008/a_student_writes_global_extinction_within_one_lifetime.html

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Response to AverageJoe90 (Reply #16)

Fri Oct 26, 2012, 08:59 AM

17. The mitigation needed for just the CO2 problem, ...

is of a scale hard to imagine possible. If you add in the postulation of the linked paper of the methane global warming veil, mitigation is much beyond the scale of human capacity. It must be noted, the paper is yet to be proven as fact and sometimes logic can lead askew when assumed knowledge becomes too broad. It is why more data of what is actually happening in the stratosphere is needed before postulation becomes paradigm.

As to Venus, I can't speak to that because I've never inferred such, and to be honest, I am failing to remember any threads on this site suggesting such a transition of the earth.

I'll follow your link in the spirit of broadening my perspective.

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Response to AverageJoe90 (Reply #16)

Fri Oct 26, 2012, 11:21 AM

20. The best critical review I have seen of this paper, ...

I found on this site at this permilink. The OP was near the date of the release of the paper, Aug. 12, 2012. So the more I dig the more I feel the need to wait for more data.

Just about what I said earlier, if the paper has basis, all else pales in comparison. But without confirming data it is but postulation and nothing more.

http://www.democraticunderground.com/?com=view_post&forum=1127&pid=21835

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Response to AverageJoe90 (Reply #16)

Fri Oct 26, 2012, 12:23 PM

23. A couple of more links to articles that support your view, ...

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Response to AverageJoe90 (Reply #16)

Mon Oct 29, 2012, 08:34 AM

26. Fun with Google site search

"turn into Venus" = 2,310 hits on this site

"turn into Venus" AND "AverageJoe90" = 2,180 hits ...

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Response to Nihil (Reply #26)

Mon Oct 29, 2012, 05:39 PM

27. Really?

And? I've only made 2,800 posts and I know that the ones related to global warming don't add up to 2,100.

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Response to AverageJoe90 (Reply #27)

Tue Oct 30, 2012, 06:41 AM

28. Yep, really

I didn't say that you made 2100 *posts* referring to your favourite distraction - the numbers include
the replies to your strawman that quote you - simply that you were linked to most of the mentions ...

In comparison, "turn into Venus" AND "Nihil" returns 10 (all the DU3 ones involved you)
e.g., http://www.democraticunderground.com/?com=view_post&forum=1127&pid=25566

Spot the difference in scale here?


I really don't mind someone having a bee in their bonnet about something - even if it is completely
fictional - but I just object to the repeated attempts to disrupt threads using fabricated fantasies
along with the smears by implication of the rest of the E&E contributors.

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Response to Nihil (Reply #28)

Tue Oct 30, 2012, 02:37 PM

29. Fictional? Smears?

If this shit wasn't a problem I wouldn't be talking about it. And smearing everyone? You're full of it.

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Response to AverageJoe90 (Reply #16)

Tue Oct 30, 2012, 03:24 PM

30. I found this quote from that article amusing

Dr Andrew Manning is lead researcher of the Carbon Related Atmospheric Measurement (CRAM) laboratory at UEA. He had this to say: “Some of AMEG’s claims, and certainly their more extreme claims regarding such things as an ice-free Arctic in a few years, are in strong disagreement with current understanding of ice dynamics experts. Much of the science they give is valid, it is the timescales that they have wrong.”


After the clusterfuck of an ice melt we just saw in the Arctic this summer, I think Dr. Manning may be the one with a timescale problem.

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Response to NickB79 (Reply #30)

Tue Oct 30, 2012, 04:00 PM

31. I trust Manning's analysis more than Light's at the moment, thanks to..........

the extreme claims that the latter made: All life on Earth extinct by mid-century thanks to methane? I don't think so.

Now, whether or not the Arctic melts in a few years.....it could, by 2016-17 or so. But then again, it may not. Light could be close to the truth, but Manning is the one with the real experience so I'll stick with him.

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Response to xchrom (Original post)

Wed Oct 24, 2012, 04:29 PM

3. Well, that can't be good.

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Response to xchrom (Original post)

Thu Oct 25, 2012, 08:15 AM

5. Errr ... WTF?

> Changes in the temperature or direction of the Gulf Stream, ... have heated sediments
> in a strip along the North Atlantic seafloor by 8 degrees Celsius

I went to the article but there was no decimal point in there either ...?




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Response to Nihil (Reply #5)

Thu Oct 25, 2012, 09:43 AM

6. They’re not saying that there’s been 8°C of warming just due to “global warming…”

http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v490/n7421/full/nature11528.html
… Our analysis suggests that changes in Gulf Stream flow or temperature within the past 5,000 years or so are warming the western North Atlantic margin by up to eight degrees Celsius and are now triggering the destabilization of 2.5 gigatonnes of methane hydrate (about 0.2 per cent of that required to cause the PETM). …


Imagine surface waters being transported deeper than they had been 5,000 years ago…

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Response to OKIsItJustMe (Reply #6)

Thu Oct 25, 2012, 08:08 PM

12. What a coincidence

Of all the times during the last 5,000 years, the clathrate gun chooses the two centuries following the Industrial Revolution to fire.

Can we say that 99% of global warming is due to "global warming"?

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Response to wtmusic (Reply #12)

Fri Oct 26, 2012, 05:23 AM

14. What 'clathrate gun'?

Let's not jump to conclusions yet.

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Response to wtmusic (Reply #12)

Fri Oct 26, 2012, 10:48 AM

19. Don’t twist my words

The entire ocean has not warmed up 8°C.

The authors point to a shifting (and/or) warming Gulf Stream.

http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v490/n7421/full/nature11528.html


Warming waters in the Gulf Stream can potentially destabilize methane hydrate. Additionally, slight changes in the Gulf Stream flow direction can also destabilize methane hydrate by introducing warm waters to regions previously exposed only to cold bottom-water currents. The Gulf Stream consists of anomalously warm water at depths as great as 1,000 metres below sea level (m.b.s.l.). In regions where the Gulf Stream is absent, ocean temperatures are markedly colder at intermediate water depths (300–1,000 m.b.s.l.).



Recent shifts in Gulf Stream flow or temperature provide a simple yet powerful mechanism for contemporary methane hydrate dissociation and carbon release. The analysis presented here provides a method for constraining Holocene changes in intermediate-depth ocean temperatures and also demonstrates that slight deviations in ocean currents have a profound impact on margin stability and the ocean carbon budget. It is unlikely that the western North Atlantic margin is the only area experiencing widespread hydrate destabilization due to changing ocean currents. Recent studies have suggested that similar ocean temperature shifts may occur both in the Arctic Ocean and globally along subtropical western boundary currents. Our estimate of 2.5 Gt of destabilizing methane hydrate may therefore represent only a fraction of the methane hydrate currently destabilizing globally.

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Response to OKIsItJustMe (Reply #19)

Fri Oct 26, 2012, 07:00 PM

25. Irrelevant.

I guess "within the last 5,000 years" doesn't in any way rule out "within the last 150 years", does it?

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Response to xchrom (Original post)

Thu Oct 25, 2012, 12:37 PM

7. Extinction Events

Yes, some people think Methane Gas erupting from the ocean depths was responsible for some of Earth's ancient extinction events. The worst one was the Permian Mass Extinction Event which is still unexplained (tho likely triggered by volcanic activity in Siberia)

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Response to jonpaulprime (Reply #7)

Thu Oct 25, 2012, 01:01 PM

9. And we're already releasing CO2 ten times faster than the Siberian traps did,

... even before the methane erupts.

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Response to jonpaulprime (Reply #7)

Fri Oct 26, 2012, 05:31 AM

15. Possibly.

Although AGW hasn't gotten anywhere near as bad as the Siberian Traps event.....well, not yet.

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