This has made methane a dramatic and controversial topic of late. Permafrost is defined as ground, including rock or (cryotic) soil, at or below the freezing point of water 0 °C (32 °F) for two or more years. He cited a recent study finding emissions of 3 million tons per year just from one sector of the Arctic ocean. Further, University of Rochester professor and study co-author Vasilii Petrenko noted that the difference is “a factor of ten,” at least, between prior estimates of geological, fossil methane sources, such as underwater seeps, and the very low volume of these emissions that their study suggests. Methane in Marine Sediments: The MonsterMethane in permafrost and other terrestrial areas is a completely different issue than subsea methane stored in marine sediments deep in the ocean floor. There are also many miles of wetlands in the Arctic. The National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) summarizes this issue as follows suggesting further study is needed before we jump to any conclusions: “there are two potential sources of methane in the Arctic. The Warming is Feeding the WarmingIn an interview, Dr. Euan Nisbet said that “methane is growing fastest over the Arctic and then over the tropics.” High methane readings in the Arctic, he explained, are largely due to the Siberian gas fields. They found methane bubbling at 72 locations within these lakes, measuring the amount of gas being released by the permafrost beneath the water. This is becoming a common phrase among researchers. (2008) estimate that not less than 1,400 gigatonnes of carbon is presently locked up as methane and methane hydrates under the Arctic submarine permafrost, and 5–10% of that area is subject to puncturing by open taliks. Arctic permafrost is thawing fast. In extremely cold conditions, the carbon in the organic matter freezes and becomes trapped instead of being emitted into the atmosphere. That period is considered an analogue for the current era of global warming. Experts are working to understand it, but more research is needed to determine how to handle this emergency situation being caused by human activities. The team drilled and collected ice cores from Taylor Glacier in Antarctica, where they could find purer air samples than those found in Greenland. Permafrost thaw shows signs of abrupt, irreversible climate change degradation greater than previously expected, according to a University of Colorado study released in February 2020. fossil fuel mining, rice agriculture, raising livestock (cattle and sheep), and municipal landfills. According to data released by the EPA, atmospheric methane (CH4) concentrations in parts per billion (ppb) remained between 400–800 ppb in the years 600,000 BC to 1900 AD, and since 1900 AD have risen to levels between 1600–1800 ppb. This is in turn heating bogs and wetlands which are already a major source of methane. The researchers concluded that the methane released does not reach the atmosphere in large quantities. Recently the seed vault library in Svalbard was flooded for the first time after permafrost melted. There are many questions surrounding the methane mystery. Note that methane concentrations in the water are measured in nM, while methane concentrations in the atmosphere are typically measured in parts per billion (ppb). In very cold regions like the Arctic, clathrates even occur on the shallow continental shelves or on the land in permafrost, the deep-frozen Arctic soil that does not even thaw in the summer. Arctic methane catastrophe scenario is based on new empirical observations Critics of new Nature paper on costs of Arctic warming ignore latest science on permafrost methane … Most people seem to be completely unaware that we are in a methane emergency. Methane by the Numbers To briefly summarize from methane by the numbers, according to Dean et al. Methane is a hard-hitting greenhouse gas. shallow subsea and surface exposed Arctic permafrost is estimated to contain enough carbon and other greenhouse gases to nearly double the amount of CO, Arctic Methane: A Catastrophe in the Making, The ESAS and other continental shelves are at shallow depths (less than 50-100 M). These mysterious gas hydrates (video) are frozen highly concentrated form of methane trapped in clathrates. Much more research is needed to determine how much methane is located in Arctic region in total. The study states that “the mean isotopic composition of methane is −68.6‰ in permafrost.” Much more research is needed to determine how much methane is located in Arctic region in total. If we can slow down climate warming it will slow down permafrost thaw, which will cause less of a temperature increase. The water has warmed as high as 17°C there in summer up from freezing at 0°C, heating the sea-floor, perforating the permafrost cap, and thawing methane hydrates. Permafrost is mostly found on land, mainly in Siberia, Alaska, and Northern Canada. Methane is a hard-hitting greenhouse gas. That represents nearly 18% of what the world has emitted since the start of the Industrial Revolution—or more than one third of what can be safely burned and still keep global warming within 2°C, the commonly cited safety threshold. “What we’ve previously categorized as natural methane emission must be anthropogenic sources, the most likely being fossil fuel use and extraction,” Hmiel said. The current research is pointing to man-made methane as the clear culprit underlying these impacts. Ebullition (bubbling methane) is rising up the water into the atmosphere in ever increasing amounts.” The more permafrost melts, the more methane is released. In any case, what is clear is that these shallow and terrestrial gas hydrate sources are degrading as ocean and air temperatures warm faster than expected. Shakhova et al. In a warming world, the heat threat to these frozen assets is significant. Further according to Katey Walter, Scientist at the University of Alaska, “one molecule of methane is like 25 molecules of carbon dioxide, so it’s a really strong greenhouse gas, contributing to climate warming and making the warming that’s already happening worse.
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