Tuesday, February 5, 2013

When Government Doesn't Get It

Courtesy of Arctic News
The graphics to the left show methane concentrations in the Arctic in January of 2009 (top), compared with January of 2013 (bottom).

Red indicates higher concentrations of methane while yellow, blue, white, and cyan show lower concentrations.

The amount of time between the two satellite sources, about 4 years, is like one second on the geological - climatological time scales, which emphasizes how very quickly things are changing in that area.

Scientists who work there have naturally become alarmed, as you will read about below.

One of many reasons for real concern is that methane is 30 times more powerful as a greenhouse gas than CO2 happens to be.

That means it would take one thirtieth (1/30) as many people releasing methane to equate to all of Human Civilization's emission of CO2, that is, 233.3 million people releasing methane could cause as much damaging green house gas affects as the damage thirty times more people, seven billion people, could do releasing only CO2 into the atmosphere (methane is like CO2 on steroids).

The Arctic, where this methane has been spotted by satellites, is also where the U.S. federal government, with President Obama so far leading the way exuberantly, albeit inexplicably, wants Oil-Qaeda to "drill baby drill."

Regular readers know that Dredd Blog has repeatedly warned that the Arctic is a dangerous area.

This is indisputable as was shown by Oil-Qaeda's disastrous attempts to drill baby drill in the Arctic last year.

Oil-Qaeda's drilling apparatus ended up turning tail and running from ice floes -- then eventually running aground in the Gulf of Alaska near Kodiak Island (see Sanity Can't Win For Losing, Hottest Month (July) on Record, You're Doin' A Heckuva Job Browner - 4, and Barry & Oil-Qaeda vs Arctic Wilderness).

When government doesn't get it, then what we the people say does not matter, no, the only thing that matters is what Oil-Qaeda says (Oil-Qaeda: The Indictment).

Ok, so what is causing all that methane to appear up there where no one lives and there are no factories releasing methane?

Regular readers know that Dredd Blog has attempted to comprehensively discuss this issue for readers in prior posts:
A section of the Arctic Ocean seafloor that holds vast stores of frozen methane is showing signs of instability and widespread venting of the powerful greenhouse gas, according to the findings of an international research team led by University of Alaska Fairbanks scientists Natalia Shakhova and Igor Semiletov.

The research results, published in the March 5 edition of the journal Science, show that the permafrost under the East Siberian Arctic Shelf, long thought to be an impermeable barrier sealing in methane, is perforated and is leaking large amounts of methane into the atmosphere. Release of even a fraction of the methane stored in the shelf could trigger abrupt climate warming.

"The amount of methane currently coming out of the East Siberian Arctic Shelf is comparable to the amount coming out of the entire world's oceans ..."

Methane is a greenhouse gas more than 30 times more potent than carbon dioxide.
(The Bubbling Up To Rude Awakening, March 2010). Another Dredd Blog post a couple of years later revisited the scenario which focused on some additional observations by scientists:
Dramatic and unprecedented plumes of methane - a greenhouse gas 20 times more potent than carbon dioxide - have been seen bubbling to the surface of the Arctic Ocean by scientists undertaking an extensive survey of the region. The scale and volume of the methane release has astonished the head of the Russian research team who has been surveying the seabed of the East Siberian Arctic Shelf off northern Russia for nearly 20 years. In an exclusive interview with The Independent, Igor Semiletov of the International Arctic Research Centre at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, who led the 8th joint US-Russia cruise of the East Siberian Arctic seas, said that he has never before witnessed the scale and force of the methane being released from beneath the Arctic seabed.


The researchers found significant amounts of methane being released from the ocean into the atmosphere through cracks in the melting sea ice. They said the quantities could be large enough to affect the global climate. Previous observations have pointed to large methane plumes being released from the seabed in the relatively shallow sea off the northern coast of Siberia but the latest findings were made far away from land in the deep, open ocean where the surface is usually capped by ice.

Eric Kort of Nasa's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, said that he and his colleagues were surprised to see methane levels rise so dramatically each time their research aircraft flew over cracks in the sea ice.

"When we flew over completely solid sea ice, we didn't see anything in terms of methane. But when we flew over areas were the sea ice had melted, or where there were cracks in the ice, we saw the methane levels increase," Dr Kort said. "We were surprised to see these enhanced methane levels at these high latitudes. Our observations really point to the ocean surface as the source, which was not what we had expected," he said.

"Other scientists had seen high concentrations of methane in the sea surface but nobody had expected to see it being released into the atmosphere in this way," he added.
(New Climate Catastrophe Policy: Triage - 5, April 2012). Several months later Dredd Blog even pointed out a potential for tsunami generation should the ocean floor holding methane hydrates become destabilized from warming (Perfect Storm: New Global Ground Zero).

One scientist indicates that the Gulf Stream is changing to the extent it warms the Arctic waters even in winter:
The first image clearly shows that the westerly Svalbard branch of the Gulf stream must be destabilizing methane hydrates between Norway and Svalbard. The effects of the eastern Yermack branch of the Gulf stream which enters the Barents Sea is clearly seen in the third figure and methane hydrates in the whole Barents Sea region are clearly being destabilized by the heat it is bringing in. All this extra heating of the Gulf Stream causing increased evaporation is the reason for the giant flooding that has been seen in Europe and the water clouds are preventing the ocean from losing its heat efficiently so the Yermack and Svalbard branches can still destabilize the methane hydrates even in the dead of winter.
(Arctic News, emphasis added). This dove-tails with the observations of warming waters around Greenland and the impact on the fishing industry there (Perfect Storm: New Global Ground Zero).

The danger presented by methane hydrate was discussed in another Dredd Blog series dealing with the Oil-Qaeda induced Deepwater Horizon catastrophe:
Methane hydrates are volatile compounds — natural gas compressed into molecular cages of ice. They are stable in the extreme cold and crushing weight of deepwater, but are extremely dangerous when they build up inside the drill column of a well. If destabilized by heat or a decrease in pressure, methane hydrates can quickly expand to 164 times their volume.
(Danger Lurks In The Deep Water, June 2010). There is room for a strong suspicion that those methane hydrates were disturbed causing explosive releases which cracked the ocean floor around but near the drill site.

This is causing reports of new leaks of oil into the Gulf of Mexico years after BP said they had sealed it off (see this and this).

The bottom line is that Oil-Qaeda has subverted "the government" to the point that the government does not get it, they just say that they get it.


  1. Talk about not seeing the forest for the trees.

    The trees in an infected forest are like individual storms, and the forest is like the Global Climate System.

    In the west the forests are infested with Pine Beetles.

    No one asks "if a particular tree does not have the Pine Beetle yet does that mean there is no Pine Beetle infestation" in the damaged forest.

    Similarly, scientists tell us that the Global Climate System is damaged (like a forest infected with Pine Beetle).

    They don't make that diagnosis based on a myopic view, like looking at one tree, they keep their eyes on the forest.

    Don't deny the forest because of a tree.

  2. A new study shows that massive permafrost melt can happen with only a 1.5 degree increase in temperature: Link