Methane bubbles beneath lake ice in Alaska, caused by melting permafrost. When she first saw the patterns of methane plumes bubbling beneath the ice, Dr. Walter Anthony said, they reminded her of the 'the starry night sky.' Photo: Josh Haner / The New York Times<br />

By Nafeez Ahmed   
24 July 2013

(The Guardian) – A new paper in the journal Nature argues that the release of a 50 Gigatonne (Gt) methane pulse from thawing Arctic permafrost could destabilise the climate system and trigger costs as high as the value of the entire world's GDP. The East Siberian Arctic Shelf's (ESAS) reservoir of methane gas hydrates could be released slowly over 50 years or "catastrophically fast" in a matter of decades – if not even one decade – the researchers said.

Not everyone agrees that the paper's scenario of a catastrophic and imminent methane release is plausible. NASA's Gavin Schmidt has previously argued that the danger of such a methane release is low, whereas scientists like Prof Tim Lenton from Exeter University who specialises in climate tipping points, says the process would take thousands if not tens of thousands of years, let alone a decade.

But do most models underestimate the problem? A new paper in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) projects that the Arctic will be ice free in September by around 2054-58. This, however, departs significantly from empirical observations of the rapid loss of Arctic summer sea ice which is heading for disappearance within two or three years according to Nature co-author and renowned Arctic expert Prof Peter Wadhams, head of the Polar ocean physics group at Cambridge University.

If Prof Wadhams is correct in his forecast that the summer sea ice could be gone by 2015, then we might be closer to the tipping point than we realise. To get to the bottom of the scientific basis for the Nature paper's scenarios, I interviewed Prof Wadhams. Here's what he had to say:

How long do we have before the Arctic summer sea ice disappears?

Given present trends in extent and thickness, the ice in September will be gone in a very short while, perhaps by 2015. In subsequent years, the ice-free window will widen, to 2-3 months, then 4-5 months etc, and the trends suggest that within 20 years time we may have six ice-free months per year. [more]

Ice-free Arctic in two years heralds methane catastrophe – scientist


  1. Anonymous said...

    The majority of climate models have several known flaws (missing feedback elements), which have badly skewed their 'predictions'.

    Actual, on the ground measurements have repeatedly and consistently exceeded the 'worst case scenarios' predicted by climate models.

    This fact alone, should be a red alert, but remains widely ignored.

    Ice-free summers will with 98% certainty happen before 2020, and most likely by 2015. An ice-free Arctic will also happen before 2050 (year round).

    However, long before that, civilization will utterly crumble. Humans will simply be unable to feed themselves. Temperature extremes will be huge, and cause global crop disasters. Fodder will no longer be available for animals.

    What food stuffs remains from excessive drought, floods, ice-storms, hurricanes, tornadoes and unseasonal variations affecting pollination, flowering and drastically increased insect vectors, will be extremely expensive and available only to the rich.

    The world is facing a massive famine, pure and simple, very soon. It's not just the "ice is gone" or "disappearing", it means the food is gone and disappearing now, long before all the ice disappears.

    I've been contacted by several federal agencies asking about production and volume capabilities. The Fed is VERY worried about what the future holds, but like many things, it's being kept from the public view.  


Blog Template by Adam Every . Sponsored by Business Web Hosting Reviews