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JGR/MIT Study - Subsea Methane Clathrates May Already Be Venting Far More Quickly Than Projected

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hatrack Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Sep-08-09 07:21 AM
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JGR/MIT Study - Subsea Methane Clathrates May Already Be Venting Far More Quickly Than Projected
New MIT research by Denise Brehm, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, funded by the U.S. Department of Energy looked at the potential for a compound affect of warming global temperatures on the level of methane being released by oceanic vents.

The premise is that rising global temperatures could be accompanied by melting permafrost in arctic regions and that this could initiate the release of underground methane into the atmosphere. Once released, that methane gas would speed up global warming by trapping the Earth's heat radiation about 20 times more efficiently than does the better-known greenhouse gas, carbon dioxide.

An MIT paper on this research in the Journal of Geophysical Research shows how this underground methane in frozen regions could escape and concludes that methane trapped under the ocean may already be escaping through vents in the sea floor at a much faster rate than previously believed. Some scientists have associated the release, both gradual and fast, of subsurface ocean methane with climate change of the past and future.

"The sediment conditions under which this mechanism for gas migration dominates, such as when you have a very fine-grained mud, are pervasive in much of the ocean as well as in some permafrost regions," said lead author Ruben Juanes, the ARCO Assistant Professor in Energy Studies in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. "This indicates that we may be greatly underestimating the methane fluxes presently occurring in the ocean and from underground into Earth's atmosphere," said Juanes. "This could have implications for our understanding of the Earth's carbon cycle and global warming."

EDIT

http://www.enn.com/wildlife/article/40448
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Aragorn Donating Member (784 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Sep-08-09 07:50 AM
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1. when I was 6
(and I am now 51) I read that we had already screwed the ecosphere beyond control.
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bemildred Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Sep-08-09 08:14 AM
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2. There is another problem with methane, it takes oxygen out of the atmosphere.
We're all going to be living at a "higher elevation" soon.
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OKIsItJustMe Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Sep-08-09 09:06 AM
Response to Reply #2
4. Well, arguably, on that front CO2 is worse
Methane is CH4 (i.e. no oxygen.) CO2 is essentially an atom of Carbon combined with a molecule of Oxygen.

Burning a molecule of Methane, requires 2 molecules of Oxygen, producing a molecule of CO2 and 2 molecules of water H2O.
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bemildred Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Sep-08-09 09:41 AM
Response to Reply #4
6. Exactly.
Edited on Tue Sep-08-09 09:43 AM by bemildred
It is my understanding that methane will oxidize in the atmosphere at normal temperatures. A big methane release would result over time in more CO2 and less O2 in proportion to the quantity of methane released. This is going on all the time. A big release of methane could throw a serious moneywrench into the already destabilized climate system, and nobody really knows what the exact consequences would be. I have seen theoretical discussions of the notion that the global anoxia during the Permian-Triassic extinction was in some form related to or caused by methane clathrate release.

This Wiki entry discusses some of this:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Permian%E2%80%93Triassic_e...
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OKIsItJustMe Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Sep-08-09 09:59 AM
Response to Reply #6
7. Gotcha n/t
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OKIsItJustMe Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Sep-08-09 09:01 AM
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3. See also
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XemaSab Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Sep-08-09 09:14 AM
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5. .
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