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Monday, December 22, 2008

Melting Permafrost Likely Releasing Methane Gas

Aerial photo shows where ice in the East Siberian Sea is melting at a rate of 81,000 square miles a day due to global warming, now exacerbated by methane gas bubbling to the surface.


Methane is bubbling up in the East Siberian Sea, creating alarm among scientists that global warming may be melting underwater permafrost and releasing the powerful greenhouse gas locked away for thousands of years.

If these methane emissions from the Arctic speed up, it could cause "really serious climate consequences," Igor Semiletov of the Pacific Oceanological Institute in Vladivostok, Russia, told National Geographic. Semiletov and colleagues have been traveling along the Siberian coast, monitoring methane concentrations in the air and observing the seas.

"According to our data, more than 50 percent of the Arctic Siberian shelf is serving as a source of methane to the atmosphere," Semiletov said.

This vast shelf is about 750,000 square miles – about the same size as Greenland or Mexico – and about 80 percent of it is covered with permafrost, Semiletov said. Permafrost is basically dirt that's been permanently frozen for hundreds or thousands of years, much of it since the last ice age.

Click here for the National Geographic article.

1 comment:

Rossa said...

Interesting report when MIT scientists recorded global levels were rising simultaneously, which contradicts the fact that most methane is released into the atmosphere from the industrial Northern Hemisphere and usually takes up to a year to cycle through the atmosphere to be picked up by their sensors. Also there is a naturally occurring "cleanser" called hydroxil, a free radical that cleans up the methane.

More info here:

http://www.tgdaily.com/html_tmp/content-view-39973-113.html

Sometimes I do find it hard to take some of the suggestions about reducing methane seriously. The best one was from Pachauri (?) the head of the IPCC who wants us to cut down on meat consumption because the cows produce too much methane when they f**t. While we're about it I suppose we could cull the entire bovine species...cows, buffaloes, bison etc and what about the termites? Termites are apparently one of the biggest natural methane producers. Do we eliminate them as well. Trouble with any of these options is if you remove species from their environment you completely upset the dynamics of biodiversity and the predator/prey hierachy.

Mr Pachauri may also have some questions to answer back home in India as the cow is sacred to the Hindus. They are not allowed to kill them so I guess they will have to have an exemption then!