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Global Warming melting Siberian permafrost releasing huge methane amounts

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philb Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Oct-03-05 08:42 PM
Original message
Global Warming melting Siberian permafrost releasing huge methane amounts
& acting as major positive feedback speeding up more global warming

In Siberia an area of permafrost spanning a million square kilometres the size of France and Germany combined has started to melt for the first time since it formed 11,000 years ago at the end of the last ice age(108). Siberias peat bogs have been producing methane since they formed at the end of the last ice age, but most of the gas had been trapped in the permafrost. The area, which covers the entire sub-Arctic region of western Siberia, is the worlds largest frozen peat bog and scientists fear that as it thaws, it will release billions of tonnes of methane, a greenhouse gas 20 times more potent than carbon dioxide, into the atmosphere. The thaw has greatly accelerated in the past three or four years. Climate scientists warned that predictions of future global temperatures would have to be revised upwards. Western Siberia is heating up faster than anywhere else in the world, having experienced a rise of some 3C in the past 40 years. Scientists are particularly concerned about the permafrost, because as it thaws, it reveals bare ground which warms up more quickly than ice and snow, and so accelerates the rate at which the permafrost thaws. Projections of the release of methane is to effectively double atmospheric levels of the gas, leading to a 10% to 25% increase in global warming(108).
Katey Walter of the University of Alaska, Fairbanks, told a meeting of the Arctic Research Consortium of the US that her team had found methane hotspots in eastern Siberia. At the hotspots, methane was bubbling to the surface of the permafrost so quickly that it was preventing the surface from freezing over. According to Larry Smith, a hydrologist at the University of California, Los Angeles, the west Siberian peat bog could hold some 70bn tonnes of methane, a quarter of all of the methane stored in the ground around the world(108). A widespread decline in lake abundance and area has occurred in Siberia since 1973, despite slight precipitation increases to the region. The spatial pattern of lake disappearance suggests that thaw and "breaching" of permafrost is driving the observed losses, by enabling rapid lake draining into the subsurface(109).


(108) Sergei Kirpotin, Tomsk State University in western Siberia, and Judith Marquand at Oxford University, New Scientist, August 11, 2005; & K. Walter, Univ. of Alaska Fairbanks, Arctic Research Consortium, 2005 www.deccanherald.com/deccanherald/ sep202005/snt1151422005919.asp
http://forests.org/articles/reader.asp?linkid=46372
(109) Science, Vol. 308, Issue 5727, 1429, 3 June 2005, & Disappearing Arctic Lakes L. C. Smith,1* Y. Sheng,2 G. M. MacDonald,1 L. D. Hinzman3
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philb Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Oct-03-05 08:45 PM
Response to Original message
1. Global warming is real , serious, and getting moreso rapidly
The 6 warmest years in recorded history have occurred since 1997 and the 11 warmest have all been since 1990. The 1990s was the warmest decade in recorded history(19,29,67,78,83,84), with 1998 the warmest in recorded history and each month of 1998 setting all time highs(79). But the current decade appears it will surpass the 90s. Globally, land temperatures in 2004 were the fourth warmest on record, while ocean temperatures were third warmest(104). 2003 and 2002 were the 2nd and 3rd warmest years in history, with 2000 and 2001 also among the warmest years in history(84,94). The global average temperature has increased about 1.5 degree Celsius since 1880, and 0.7 degrees Celsius since 1975(29,16,36, 40,41,42,49,90,94). An even greater warming is seen in global average minimum temperatures which have increased by 1.1 degrees Celsius since 1950(77). There is strong evidence that this warming trend is due to the greenhouse effect related to a buildup of carbon dioxide and similar greenhouse chemicals related to manmade increases in fossil fuel emissions and atmospheric release of other chemicals(16,29,22,84). And experts expect a much more rapid increase in the near future(100,29).

http://www.flcv.com/green.html
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philb Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-04-05 09:32 PM
Response to Reply #1
22. Summary of current rapidly increasing global warming effects:
Edited on Tue Oct-04-05 09:33 PM by philb
Global warming is ocurring more rapidly than predicted and causing major effects currently that are being rapidly augmented by positive feedback mechanisms related to conditions caused by global warming. There is a rapid warming of the ocean surface temperatures that is having major effects including:

a. more and more energetic hurricanes
b. rapid declines in phytoplankton populations in widespread areas which have induced major declines in all sea life in the ecosystem dependent on the phytoplankton chain, including snails, muscles, worms, small fish, predator fish species, birds, sea mammals, etc.
c. bleaching and harm to coral reefs and coral reef ecosystems
d. declining oceans fiseries
e. increased desertification and droughts
f. major increases in weather related natural disasters and in insurance company claims to deal with natural disasters.
g. Melting of the arctic sea ice, with major degradation of habitat for polar bears, seals, etc. and major positive feedback increase in global warming due to decreased reflection of solar radiation.
h. Rapid melting of vast areas of Siberian and arctic permafrost areas for the first time in recorded history, with huge positive global warming feedback mechanism due to release of methane from the previously frozen permafrost peat bogs.
i. Major slowing of Gulf Stream flow especially in the north Atlantic, due to changes in arctic sea ice and salinity differential in that area that drives the Gulf Stream flow. This is expected to induce rapid cooling of the Eurpean continent and perhaps the beginning of a new ices age affecting that area in the near future

http://www.flcv.com/green.html
Solutions: http://www.flcv.com/flenergy.html

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philb Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-04-05 09:48 PM
Response to Reply #22
23. Ocean temperatures increasing rapidly casuing major ecoystem decline
and decline in ocean life.

Ocean surface temperatures have also been found to be increasing. Ocean surface temperatures off California to British Columbia have increased between 1.2 to 1.6 degrees Celsius since the 1950s, resulting in a dramatic decrease of 80% in the population of zooplankton which is at the base of the food chain(43). Coastal ocean temperatures are 2 to 5 degrees F above normal, which may be related to a lack of updwelling, in which cold, nutrient-rich water is brought to the surface. This has resulted in large declines of other parts of the ecosystem including a drop in fishing tonnage of over 35%, and even higher decreases for some birds and fish heavily dependent on zooplankton. Warm water marine snails and mollusks off the U.S. Pacific coast have been found to be expanding their range north at a rapid rate over the last decade(67).

Similar is true for the Gulf of Mexico, with hot temperatures producing monster hurricanes, and a huge dead zone.

http://www.flcv.com/green.html
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philb Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-04-05 10:10 PM
Response to Reply #23
25. Another major g.w. positive feedback also rapidly occurring- arctic ice me
lting

Researchers from NASA and the US National Snow and Ice Data Centre (NSIDC) have warned that the arctic ice cap could completely disappear within a century, after a satellite survey this summer revealed ice cover was at its lowest level ever.

Sea ice coverage was just 2.06m square miles, the scientists said, which is around 20 per cent below the average cover at this time of year in the 1970s. This is low enough to put many arctic species, including the polar bear, at risk.

The scientists said that the reduction in ice cover - equivalent to an area twice the size of Texas (or 62 times the size of Wales) was "stunning". It is also the fourth consecutive year in which cover has fallen.

The sea ice in the arctic always retreats in summer, but generally builds back up again during the colder winter months. Last year, however, the ice did not approach its normal winter coverage, so when the spring thaw came, levels were already low.

The Arctic is particularly vulnerable to global warming, because small temperature changes quickly become a positive feedback loop. When ice melts, more ground or water is exposed, both of which absorb more solar energy than ice or snow.

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2005/09/29/polar_ice_thaw /


http://www.flcv.com/green.html

Solutions: http://www.flcv.com/flenergy.html
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philb Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Oct-05-05 12:34 AM
Response to Reply #25
26. g.w. and arctic icecap melting rapidly leading to new ice age in Europe &
to some degree in northern U.S. and Canada- new evidence of rapid changes:

CLIMATE change researchers have detected the first signs of a slowdown in the Gulf Stream the mighty ocean current that keeps Britain and Europe from freezing. They have found that one of the engines driving the Gulf Stream the sinking of supercooled water in the Greenland Sea has weakened to less than a quarter of its former strength.

The weakening, apparently caused by global warming and the melting of the arctic icecap, could herald big changes in the current over the next few years or decades. Paradoxically, it could lead to Britain and northwestern and Europe undergoing a sharp drop in temperatures


Britain faces big chill as ocean current slows, The Sunday Tiomes, UK May 08, 2005 http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,2087-1602579,00...

& CNN, Changes in Gulf Stream could chill Europe
http://edition.cnn.com/2005/TECH/science/05/10/gulfstre...
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FreeMason Donating Member (8 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Oct-06-05 12:00 AM
Response to Reply #1
32. This is not surprising
The highest energy out-put we have ever seen from the Sun has occurred since 1957, that's after 400 years of observations.

Global Warming, Sun increasing energy out-put...there seems to be a correlation here.
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Fridays Child Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Oct-03-05 09:29 PM
Response to Original message
2. Kicked and nominated
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bemildred Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Oct-03-05 09:39 PM
Response to Original message
3. Could fix the gas shortage. I'm just saying ... nt
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gulfcoastliberal Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-04-05 01:09 AM
Response to Original message
4. We're doomed if this happens.
I don't think we're going to make it out of this mess. It will be a chain-reaction - possibly the end of humans unless we suddenly evolve into methane breathers.
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Porcupine Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-04-05 03:24 AM
Response to Reply #4
5. Methane is fuel for a wide range of bacteria.
I think that enough might stay in the atmosphere to pump climate change. I don't think that we have to worry about Oxygen concentrations.
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Oggy Donating Member (652 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-04-05 08:03 AM
Response to Reply #4
6. I think we are doomed regardless
Not as a species, but as a civilization. I wrote a paper for my degree 16 years ago, and it was very gloomy with all the positive feedbacks causing an ever increasing warming. Those feedbacks are evident in this article and in various others in the last few weeks about Arctic warming.
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NNadir Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-04-05 09:56 AM
Response to Original message
7. Let's put this in perspective.
The US injects about 6 billion tons of CO2 into the atmosphere annually, half of it from burning coal.

The 20 year global climate change potential for methane is 56, meaning it is 56 times worse as a gas, molecule for molecule. (The hundred year potential is around 20.).

With 70 billion tons available, this effect could easily swamp the effects of the US, and that ain't good news.

I note that this gas is not generally available for capture and use. It is distributed diffusely over huge areas.
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NNadir Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-04-05 09:58 AM
Response to Reply #7
8. I recommended this thread for the greatest page.
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suneel112 Donating Member (89 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-04-05 11:39 AM
Response to Original message
9. Is there a way to USE this methane?
Like pump it from underground into gas pipes. 70 billion tons of methane could easily solve the gas problem. With India and China building gas power plants, pipelines could be constructed to India, China, and the United States for electric power. 70 billion tons of CO2 is still better than 70 billion tons of methane.
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hatrack Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-04-05 11:42 AM
Response to Reply #9
10. No, its release is far too diffuse
If a gas is being released from a frozen soil series, it just bubbles up everywhere. It's not like an oil or gas well where it comes up from a pipe.

Now, if you had one hell of a lot of duct tape and plastic . . .
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NNadir Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-04-05 11:44 AM
Response to Reply #10
12. You beat me to it. But now that you mention duct tape and plastic...
...I think it's possible. We get that guy Christo and just cover all of Siberia. He does that sort of thing. Thus no one will have to apply for any kind of license other than artistic license.
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Boomer Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-04-05 12:34 PM
Response to Reply #10
13. Paging Dr. Fu Manchu! Paging Dr. No!
Where are those clever power-hungry madmen when you need them? Surely they could devise a way to capture all that methane and turn it into energy in a grab for world domination.
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hatrack Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-04-05 01:09 PM
Response to Reply #13
14. If that frickin' James Bond hadn't offed all of those guys . . .
Edited on Tue Oct-04-05 01:09 PM by hatrack
At least there'd be a madman in a Secret Lair somewhere who could take control. Damn you, Miss Moneypenny!
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phantom power Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-04-05 01:14 PM
Response to Reply #14
15. We could bring in Pinky and The Brain.
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Boxerfan Donating Member (710 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-04-05 03:27 PM
Response to Reply #15
19. You rang??
Just kiddin but I do relate to that character a bit too much-Ahem.

Isolate one area of the site(read tarps & vapor traps) & collect the methane . Use this methane to power a cooling station. Use a giant grid of copper piping(ala a giant ice rink) to re-freeze the area & control the release. This could be done in hexagon shaped patterns so one could build them starting on a small scale & growing as the proceeds from the sale of the methane allowed for expansion of the facility.I believe methane gas would work as a refrigerant also(but that's beyond my abnormally large mousey brain).

Thank you very much, now back to "Trying to take over the Whirrled"
Hey Pinky, are you thinking what I'm thinking?
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NNadir Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-04-05 11:42 AM
Response to Reply #9
11. I would guess not. It's diffuse, spread over millions of hectares.
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progressoid Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-04-05 02:16 PM
Response to Original message
16. Every damn day I read something on DU that depresses me even more.
Makes me wish I had some of them RW rose colored glasses.
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wildflower Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-04-05 02:18 PM
Response to Original message
17. "The thaw has greatly accelerated in the past three or four years."
:wistful sigh: :cry:
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progressoid Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-04-05 02:19 PM
Response to Original message
18. Oops, dupe
Edited on Tue Oct-04-05 02:25 PM by progressoid
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mom cat Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-04-05 09:13 PM
Response to Original message
20. please fix the link..Thanks
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philb Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-04-05 09:52 PM
Response to Reply #20
24. Do you mean this link?
Edited on Tue Oct-04-05 09:54 PM by philb
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mom cat Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Oct-05-05 09:04 PM
Response to Reply #24
30. yes , thanks. I just added it to my Global warming file.
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philb Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-04-05 09:29 PM
Response to Original message
21. There are huge amounts of cost effective solutions to deal with problems
like this one. We just have no leadership; need to educate public
(world public-most in Europe already know) and get cracking on moving in more resonable directions; we can't immediately reverse all the harm- but there is a lot we can do to make things better

http://www.flcv.com Energy paper
http://www.flcv.com/flenergy.html

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philb Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Oct-05-05 01:00 AM
Response to Reply #21
27. Examples of the huge choices available to make a difference
Current price for natural gas is $14/MMBTU and at these high prices there are huge amounts of energy efficiency technology and measures that are cost effective.

Energy efficient light bulbs, energy efficient appliances, weatherization programs, energy efficient commercial processes, passive solar design, daylighting, natural ventilation, shading, landfill gas and sewer gas recovery, composting, recycling, more mass transit and alternative transportation choices and option, and large numbers of other options are already proven and documented to be cost effective measures that can make huge impacts in reducing energy dependence, reducing global warming and pollution emissions, reducing federal deficits, enhancing local economic development by keeping currently exported capital at home, etc.

http://www.flcv.com/flenergy.html
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Porcupine Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Oct-05-05 03:14 AM
Response to Reply #27
28. None of which will go into rental housing stock.....
Energy efficiency is going to be for the middle class and wealthy. The poor will just shiver.
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philb Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Oct-05-05 11:11 PM
Response to Reply #28
31. Weatherization helps the poor; but so does slowing global warming
Edited on Wed Oct-05-05 11:23 PM by philb
Global warming is affecting everyone; like those in New Orleans. those most affected were the poor.

Are you suggesting all is hopeless and there's no point in trying to make things better?


Here's evidence supporting that we can greatly reduce fossil fuel use
while improving the economy.

More Profit with Less Carbon
http://www.sciam.com/media/pdf/Lovinsforweb.pdf
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NNadir Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Oct-05-05 08:57 AM
Response to Reply #21
29. I have a plan.
I'm going to invite a horde of college frat boys to my home, get them stinking drunk, so drunk that they are inspired to begin lighting their farts.

This will prevent the release of many tons of methane into the atmosphere as well as to heat my home.

The destroyed furniture can then be burned in my fireplace, providing further warmth.
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philb Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Oct-06-05 08:38 PM
Response to Reply #29
33. Repub plan: eliminate emission controls and build more power plants
In the news today, Repub. Congressmen promote bill to eliminate pollution environmental controls to save money to pay for hurricane relief, and build more energy infrastructure to promote economic development.

Which isn't very compatible with the realities of whats causing the more and larger hurricanes and the huge global warming related problems that their "solutions" will only make much worse.
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