Good News or Very, Very Bad News?

The Big Gav relays an intriguing article1 from Der Spiegel about methane hydrates. This could be good news, yet many scientists fear that one day the methane from the ocean floor will heat up the world’s climate to a far greater extent than coal, oil and natural gas do today.

“Methane hydrates would seem intuitively to be the most precarious of things. Methane hydrate melts if it gets too warm, and it floats in water. Methane is a powerful greenhouse gas, and it degrades to CO2, another greenhouse gas which accumulates in the atmosphere just as fossil fuel CO2 does.” — Real Climate

World reserves of the frozen gas are enormous. Geologists estimate that significantly more hydrocarbons are bound in the form of methane hydrate than in all known reserves of coal, natural gas and oil combined. “There is simply so much of it that it cannot be ignored,” says leading expert Gerhard Bohrman of the Research Center for Ocean Margins (RCOM) in the northern German city of Bremen.

Methane is about 23 times more potent than carbon dioxide as a greenhouse gas. The “crisis under the ice2” is more threatening because of the Albedo Flip, something about which James Hansen and other scientists at NASA and the Columbia University Earth Institute have expressed grave concern.

We are closer to a tipping point than previously thought. Even “moderate additional” greenhouse emissions are likely to push Earth past “critical tipping points” with “dangerous consequences for the planet.” This blog previously relayed the concern by Thomas Homer Dixon In a New York Times op ed entitled “A Swiftly Melting Planet”:

This summer’s loss of Arctic sea ice indicates that at least one major destabilizing feedback is gaining force quickly. Scientists have also recently learned that the Southern Ocean, which encircles Antarctica, appears to be absorbing less carbon, while Greenland’s ice sheet is melting at an accelerating rate.

biogas, disasters, emissions, forecast, oceans, weather, worldSimilar Posts: There is Fast Feedback and there is Slow Feedback There goes the Permafrost Uh, You Know That Bad News? Well, the Dire Predictions were Overly Optimistic Carbon Tracker Bye-Bye, West Antarctic Ice Sheet

1China and India Exploit Icy Energy Reserves 2crisis under the ice
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