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Jim Hunt

Sorry Chris, I often forget what I'm automatically subscribed to, especially since there are people from all around the planet in here.

Sticking with Sandy for the moment, what (if anything) do you attribute the "blocking high over Greenland" to?

Whatever the answer to that question, those of us from just across the pond from here certainly did get smashed.

In the latest news from over here in not so sunny South West England, it appears as if I am already underwater!

http://www.thisisdevon.co.uk/PICTURES-Devon-floods-Tamerton-Foliot-water/story-17380315-detail/story.html

Chris Reynolds

Jim,

No problem regards not being able to see all those articles in full - I already know roughly what they'll have to say given the conclusions being drawn in the header.

The pattern Werther (I think) was discussing is available here - give that link a minute it's direct to NCEP/NCAR. It's striking, I've never seen it before, and because of that I'm not willing to draw conclusions.

Were you referring to that pattern with regards Greenland blocking?

As I think we've discussed before the Greenland Blocking pattern that's lead to wet UK summers since 2007 is really confined to June/July/August. So it can't explain flooding at this time of year. However against that, I'd have to admit that the Greenland centered pattern at the start of this reply does look like a shrunk-down version of the summer pattern.

I guess the key question with regards the flooding in your area would be how unusual it is. I know we've talked about flooding in the same region since the summer. But by now are we not well into the typically stormy Autumn pattern?

In this respect the end of that article has an important quote:

Helen Rossington, forecaster with MeteoGroup said the effect of the overnight deluge was made worse by recent wet weather.

She said: "We tend to get this sort of weather in autumn, but it has fallen on to already-saturated ground which has caused the flooding.

Could it be that our exceptionally wet summer has set the scene for flooding by saturating the water tables?

Werther

Hi Chris,

I described that pattern as a ‘donut’ for the second decade 11-14 Nov. On SLP and also noticeable on 500 Mb. It did fade a bit , days 15-19 added.
I focused on consequences for the Kara region mostly. I missed what it would mean for the UK. I saw the BBC pics and sympathise with so much families being confronted with flooding once again.

Is it another symptom of weirdness caused by AGW/ASI loss?

I’m convinced that this phenomenon fits in the whole range. A4r mentioned the Gulf of Alaska, British Columbia being hit continuously. I read some posts on Jeff Masters’WG on flooding in Washington and Oregon.

As Wayne has argued, the general pattern through these last two months has circled around a ‘pinned’, small Polar vortex/cold Pole over North Greenland. The AO has flip-flopped on the movement of Rossby waves.
These waves seem to react to the specifics of the topography they meet. Like the Labrador -, the Barentsz-, the Okhotsk Seas anomalously warm. The Bering cold. Unusual late open Arctic waters leading to lots of snow in parts of Siberia and Manchuria, Alaska.
I can’t statistically verify the differences with the climo. But 2/3 sigma events keep coming. And next week we’re in for another whack of volatility. Expect bad winter weather for Scandinavia, the UK and Ireland and also for the Canadian Maritimes and New England.

I can already imagine popular politicians mocking AGW as their scope doesn’t reach much further than their office windows.

Werther

BTW on the renewed flooding... I think you're right; the UK West Country already wet in it's 'climo', the last five anomalously wet months must have brought any soil on field capacity.
Graphs on Weather Online don't show November very wet through the first fortnight. But the wet transport out of the relatively warm Canadian Maritimes has picked up.

Jim Hunt

Hi Werther,

Thanks very much for your good wishes. I can certainly confirm that the soil here has been saturated for months. The floods started in June. We passed the average annual rainfall in October. A near neighbour here in the Haldon Hills has been flooded twice. Probably thrice by now. My residence is over 500 years old however. They knew what they were doing in those days!

I'm a hurricane hunter of long standing, but a noobie when it comes to peering down on the North Pole. When I have a spare moment I'll try and follow your conversation with Chris very carefully, but I don't really have a "feel" for this angle on things as yet.

As far as educating the Devonshire Dumplings goes, I'm not having much luck at this end. 17 thumbs down so far!

http://www.thisisdevon.co.uk/Christmas-lights-switch-cancelled-Plymouth-scraps/story-17381691-detail/story.html

I had a much more sympathetic hearing at a Parish Council meeting last night. I'm speaking to the District Council on Monday. I'll let you know how that goes.

In the meantime, here's a brief extract from my soggy SW photo album:

http://tinyurl.com/solaride

I'm also meeting a man from the Met Office for a beer or two next week. I'll let you know how that goes also, if any of it's "on the record".

Fufufunknknk

"Less energy => slower cycle => Failed scheme. AND the seas are still acidic, AND it's still too hot..."

Sorry, can you be more specific? I agree it doesn't solve the root problem but sometimes treating the symptoms buys you time.

I don't understand the comment: "They CAN however waste resources and time, if pursued. These schemes are the siren song of Greek GeoE tragedy."

Again, can you be more specific? I don't see the reasoning.

Werther

Fufufunknknk, morning,

As Lodger hasn’t showed up yet, I’ve been making up my mind on Neven’s thread, Lodger’s entry and your question.

The thread is on the ASI-methane connection. I’ve intruded with weirdness entries, but justify the seemingly off-topic approach. I think we’re not far away from ‘runaway’ and increasing weirdness is the intro. Neven promest us a second part on GeoE, as it will be frontpage soon.

Meanwhile, Lodger argues that influencing incoming solar radiation is no solution. The time theoretically bought is very expensive. Maybe he will be more specific to answer you.

IMHO, when a massive methane release occurs, there’s no GeoE going to mitigate it. A protective measure to artificially save ASI and prohibit that release would devour sparse capital. BAU approach would mean it not to be accompanied by a transition off fossil fuel. Lodger is right to describe that ‘a failed scheme’.

Any GeoE should be deployed only when we have started the transition first. The second restraint should be the effects are studied, so that it can be effective without unforeseen consequences.

We should put all our effort, remaining capital, education, compassion in the transition first.

Fufufunknknk

Thanks for the reply Werther. I still don't see the defined relationship between silver balloons (or any other scheme), capital, and other solutions.

I grant that there is some relationship but it isn't defined. To take the logical extreme, suppose balloons cost $5 and push the heating effects off by 5 years. That is would be $5 well spent, no? In other words, until there is some ball park figure at least for capital, effects, time and so on, this line of argument is weak at best.

I am not trying to say that the idea can't be criticized, just that the sparse capital or generic 'doomed scheme' line are contentless, to me at least.

Suppose, for example, that all sopping bags were converted to silvered microballoons. I realize there are technical difficulties, but bear with me. Cost? Not much more than what we do today + everyone has to recycle. Effect: maybe .1% reduction in solar radiation. How does this compare to 'eliminating carbon generating processes' in terms of likelyhood and effectiveness?

I guess I am saying, give me a model to debate, not just a string of words referencing nothing that I know. Or tell me the references at least.

But finally, why not advocate sabatoge of all coal and oil works? Technically, that is the only solution that is cost effective and likely to work in reducing carbon. If it could be done without loss of life, rationing and electric vehicles would increase. Why are not you advocating that? (Seriously, not trying to be argumentative.)

Apocalypse4Real

The Arctic methane imagery is updated from Giovanni at 359 mb and IASI at 600 mb for November 11-20, 2012.

https://sites.google.com/site/apocalypse4realmethane2012/home/2012-vs-2011-airs-ch4-359-hpa

Mike Constable

Fufufunknknk,

As I see it almost any attempt to reduce incident radiation from the sun will consume more energy (CO2) than it saves.
Balloons lose helium by diffusion, party ones in a few days not years, if they were better made they would be heavier and even less viable.
Anything put in space consumes a vast amount of energy (at great cost too!).
Hydrocarbons are the most energy-dense form of practical mobile power (they obtain their oxidant from the air, not from the other half of a cell) but we are wasting vast quantities in mooching around towns in cars with huge engine capacities. Efficiency is a good starting place, even Americans limit speed to save fuel!
One answer would be to limit engine size and run them at their most efficient speed to charge batteries - with the whole set up kept simple to reduce weight. Henry Ford had the right idea - Model T - no choice, no one-up-man-ship, produced efficiently!

Fufufunknknk

Thanks Mike. So from what I understand from your answer, assuming we use helium, our problem is reduced to finding a way to not lose helium, at least for this particular solution.

Suppose we solved that, the rest is viable?

I am not, nor ever will, argue against efficiency or solving the root problem. But I don't understand the generic argument against stop gap measures. Suppose your radiator was leaking water because your car was over heating. Would you abandon the car in the middle of nowhere because it makes no sense to fill the radiator constantly? Or would you keep refilling it until you can make it to a garage? Ok, bad example, but without figures to back up your claims about 'too expensive' or 'consume more than it saves' are just words without a model. I just don't buy it.

I take your point about helium, it is a valid one and maybe the one that would end up crashing this idea.

Jim Hunt

A YouTube vid in which the Met Office Deputy Chief Forecaster explains British weird weather: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5H0GayJbUsk#!

Mike Constable

Hi Fufufunknknk,
I'm sorry but mitigation on the scale required looks like breaking the first rule of holes - if you are in one, stop digging!

The energy required to put something into orbit would be more economically spent propelling other things round down here - apart from cluttering space up with junk!

Let's try to get the reaction right - start to solve the problem, not the symptoms. Your radiator needs the hole fixed so the engine can run at its design temperature (100C+), not be pumping out warmed water faster than you can put cold in?

If sea ice albedo over 13M Km2 winter area cannot keep up at the moment where will we be in the future - how many Km2 shading are you going to keep at the top of the atmosphere?
Oh, and anything in the atmosphere will act like clouds, interrupting the long-wave radiation going out, so nothing is a one-way ticket!

White roofs under blue skies in parts of the world might help, but under clouds the energy bounces around. (Mirrors or PV cells might be even better, supplying power.).

Chris Reynolds

Werther,

I've been pondering that 'donut' pattern today at work. It seems too similar to the June July August pattern for them not to be related in some way, despite the change of scale - the recent donut is smaller than that in post 2007 summers. Have you identified this in previous years NCEP/NCAR? I know you've referred to it before but I've not been well and was unable to follow your previous discussions. Can't find them now... :(

You said: "I think we’re not far away from ‘runaway’ and increasing weirdness is the intro."

I normally like to pin things down into identifiable mechanisms and avoid 'hunches' or gut feeling / intuition. However intuition has saved me from some very expensive screw ups at work - just feeling that something wasn't right and reaching for the off switch. I'm getting the same feeling now about AGW and the weather.

In 2010 Jeff Masters said:

In my thirty years as a meteorologist, I’ve never seen global weather patterns as strange as those we had in 2010. The stunning extremes we witnessed gives me concern that our climate is showing the early signs of instability. Natural variability probably did play a significant role in the wild weather of 2010, and 2011 will likely not be nearly as extreme.

From my viewing of the years since 2010 there has been no such reduction in 'Global Weirding'.

There's research showing massive shifts of northern hemisphere circulation during the ice ages, these happened in as little as a year. More here. I'm persuaded by Wunsch that the ice age changes in the THC are actually driven by ice sheet extent changes changing the lower boundary condition and causing shifts in atmospheric circulation, which then impacts ocean circulation. From this view point it makes sense to connect the summer atmospheric circulation change with the early loss of snow around the Arctic, as Overland et al have recently done. However the warming in the Arctic itself has an impact as Francis/Vavrus show (meanders in the Jetstream. There is a further reason to expect an impact of Arctic warming - due to the basic physics common to the atmosphere and rotating pan experiments.

Rather than meander further I'll get to the point - I can't argue it logically and convincingly (convincing to myself). But I'm getting the feeling that we're going to see a reorganisation of atmospheric circulation as the Arctic transitions to a sea ice free summer state. What we're seeing now are the wobbles around an attractor as the atmospheric system casts about for a new stable state.

Chris Reynolds

Jim,

Feel free to ask questions, I'll keep my eye on this thread. BTW it has occurred to me that when you were asking about the blocking high you were probably referring to the one that played a role in Sandy's course - I've seen nothing that convinces me that was due to changes in the Arctic. That's not the same as saying the Arctic had no role - the changes there play a role in all the atmosphere, everything is interconnected.

Fufufunknknk,
I have two points to make regards geo-engineering.

1) How do you stop people from using it as an excuse to pursue Business as Usual (BAU).

2) What happens if you run out of money / resources to continue geo-engineering? i.e. say you manage to 'hide' the warming due to a doubling of CO2 and keep warming at current levels. What happens if your balloons deflate or the sulphate haze put in the atmosphere runs out? What effect does a multi-degree warming in a decade have on this planet?

P-maker

Chris, please have a look at fig 17b in

http://edocs.nps.edu/npspubs/scholarly/theses/2010/Jun/10Jun_Stone.pdf

There you will see a pattern of NA high pressure related to an open Beaufort Sea in October.

Mike C, I like your way of thinking.

However, please remember that the annual average global sea ice area anomaly is currently around 1.5 mio. square km. Trying to link the disappearance of the sea ice with the need to erect new PV should certainly be pursued. It would make a couple of highly relevant indicators for the state of the global climate.

Chris Reynolds

P Maker,

If you'd have said it was Megan Stone's thesis... Read that some time ago. Have you read Dagmar Budikova's review paper? PDF.

Not quite sure what you're getting at with that reference, but here are some thoughts.

The October changes Stone finds are related to anomalous heat (sensible and latent) fluxes into the atmosphere from anomalous open water. These start as a baroclinic disturbance of the vertical profile of the atmosphere over the late freezing regions, this then becomes a barotropic disturbance of wider scale in the late winter, which resembles the negative AO pattern. And here I suspect I need to explain...

From Wikipedia: "In meteorology a baroclinic atmosphere is one for which the density depends on both the temperature and the pressure; contrast this with a barotropic atmosphere, for which the density depends only on the pressure."

As I understand it, the sensible and latent heat fluxes of the autumn from anomalous late freezing open water cause a disturbance of the atmospheric temperature profile, the temperature field is being distorted by the surface flux of heat. So the temperature changes with height become misaligned with the pressure changes. This is an ideal 'breeding ground' for storms, which feed off the skewed temperature & pressure fields. Here in the UK we may get strong convection during high pressure (barotropic) conditions, but only get a 'thundery breakdown' as a front moves in (baroclinic) and provides the baroclinic instability needed for storms to form.

The later emergence in the Arctic of a winter barotropic pattern resembling the negative AO is a process I don't yet understand fully. :(

My 'feeling' about instability of atmosphere isn't specifically about any one process, such as the one Megan Stone points out in figure 17. General circulation of the atmosphere is the outcome of global factors - such as those which find analogous processes in simple rotating pan experiments - and local factors, like topography, mountain ranges, oceans etc. In this way the global flow of heat and atmospheric mass from tropics to poles sets up the jetstreams on which there are rossby waves. Then the rossby waves interact with surface conditions. For example the presence of Greenland sets up a persistent kink in the jet, which is why Francis and Vavrus found the biggest impact of Arctic warming over the Atlantic. Crucially the rosby waves provide a means of teleconnecting changes in one part of the northern hemisphere to another along the lines of longitude. A change such as early loss of snow could be able to change the phase or wavenumber (number of peaks and troughs) - so a loss of snow in May/June in Eurasia could (as I understand it) teleconnect backwards along the Jetstream flow to create the Greenland blocking high in summer.

But I digress - the issue isn't all these details per se. Stepping back, these local processes act together to give us climate - the long term average of common weather patterns. The way these processes knit together throughout the northern hemisphere could alter significantly if conditions connected to the Arctic (at the centre of the NH) change - snowline changes, heat fluxes into the Arctic atmosphere, change in temperature gradient, all acting to change interaction with fixed oceans and land masses. The result - a shift in atmospheric circulation.

Werther

Hi Chris,
On your first question concerning the 'donut'500Mb/SLP shape 10-14 Nov: my main concern was to illustrate the anomalous SI situation in the Kara Sea this second Nov decade.
As Neven pointed at similar daily losses, I checked up '06-'11. The event in Nov '06 had some similarity in the general pattern. It was also a period with mean negative AO.

I'd have to get into this on a somewhat different quest: 'looking for the donut...' (my wife omits the'do-'part...)

P-maker

Hi Chris

I don't think we really disagree. Atmospheric conditions are changing in the Arctic. Reasons may still be obscure, but on this blog, they will eventually occur. However, I am not sure that the review paper by Budikova is of any help in this situation. She doesn't even quote Ms Stone's thesis, so I doubt I can find any reason to dispute her fig. 17b. You, and several others, do admit that it is a long time since you had a look at her thesis. Maybe this upcoming weekend is a good opportunity to recover and review.

Cheers

P

crandles

Looking at buoy drift map, there seems a notable absence of the Beaufort gyre. Are we running out of time for sufficient MYI to move into Beaufort Sea to avoid it being very vulnerable next melt season or is there plenty of time left for MYI movement?

BlackDragon

Project White Elephant :: An Albedo Restoration Proposal

I have recently been involved with an industrial consortium that has just returned from an extensive research mission to the Gamma Quadrant. This industrial group has been granted exclusive access to methods and materials that far exceed any currently known human-originated technology.

This group is able to deploy an albedo restoration system on Earth that will partially compensate for the recent loss of Arctic sea ice. They will build this system to cover an area the size of Texas, but deployed in a manner spread out across the geographical United States, in a fashion that disturbs the least amount of currently used land surface.

This system will be installed in one year and be maintained for a minimum of 100 years.

The total fee will include installation and maintenance, and will also include all materials, labor, fuel, factories, distribution, pollution remediation, legal, and all other associated costs.

They want to keep it simple for us - we only need to agree to their flat-rate fee.

The fee will be $1.00 (one dollar) for each square foot of albedo restoration coverage. Albedo is guaranteed to be at least 0.9.

The area of Texas is 7,494,000,000,000 square feet. They will round up to 7.5 trillion, just to keep things simple.

This group will begin construction as soon as payment is made for this incredibly reasonable proposal.

Note: It is not true that unicorns and leprechauns are involved in the manufacture and deployment of this system, as has been rumored. I have seen the technology, and it is far more advanced than anything these magical beings can provide.

Twemoran

Slightly off topic.

In the last 3 yrs we've lost an avg of 1.210 km3 / yr. = 1.21x10^12 m3
The Arctic Ocean's surface is ~140,090,000 km2 = ~1.4009x10^14 m2
Latent heat of fusion of water = 80C sensible heat

Fusion x Melted ice / Arctic surface =~ 8.6373C

Without the math this means that if we have 4 years similar to the last 3, all the ice will be gone in the 3d yr. & in the 4th we'll have enough sensible heat to raise the top meter of the Arctic Ocean an additional >8.6C.

This energy pulse will repeat each year.

We've run out of time.

Terry

Fufufunknknk

Quickly:

Weather balloons can go up 40,000 meters or about 130,000 feet. There is no energy required for launch other than generation of hydrogen. SOurce: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Weather_balloon

If surface albedo is assumed to work, high altitude albedo should work as well. I do understand the reflective problem but on the other hand it is cooler under the shade of a tree than not under it. If someone technical wants to debate this, I would be happy to be corrected.

As to cost of bags: "It has been estimated that around 500 billion plastic bags are used worldwide every year. Only about one in 200 of these is recycled." Source: http://www.ctahr.hawaii.edu/nrem/staff/downloads/20091006_Formatted.pdf

Or perhaps it is only 100 billion each year. Source: http://www.thomasnet.com/articles/plastics-rubber/designing-plastic-bags

Or maybe as high as 1 trillion. Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plastic_shopping_bag

The cost per shopping bag is given in various sources as $.001 to $.0022. I didn't do sources because I didn't find any source that seemed credible and I am assuming there is a huge difference in quality of shopping bags and silvered bags capable of reaching the heights required via hydrogen and lasting for a significant amount of time.

Cost and subsequent pollution via bag disintegration are two significant effects. There are a host of other problems that are less significant.

But assuming, for a moment, that costs of more bags that function are of a similar cost on similar scales of production, assume that hydrogen at 1 atm is 192.0 ft3/lb or approx 420 ft3/kg, that hydrogen costs $6 per kg, the cost of hydrogen to fill the bags is $.014 per bag. (Source: http://www.lindeus.com/internet.lg.lg.usa/en/images/high_purity_hydrogen138_28073.pdf)

This gives a rough total of $.015 per bag to produce and fill to cover an area the size of Texas is per foot sq: $112,500,000. Split that cost among countries based on CO2 production and the US has to bear a cost of $20,553,750. (source of CO2: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_carbon_dioxide_emissions)

This seems in the range of feasible solutions.. or at least it doesn't seem like something we would have to hire aliens to do for us, no matter how clever they sound.

crandles

I did find this

"There has been some environmental concern over metallised nylon balloons, as they do not biodegrade or shred as rubber balloons do. Release of these types of balloons into the atmosphere is considered harmful to the environment."

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Balloon


Presumably that $112,500,000 only lasts about a week unless you can prevent leakage (which would probably add weight). Texas represents 696K Km^2 compared to world of 510M Km^2 so 0.1% of incoming solar radiation or maybe 2x? more effective over Texas, Sahara and other hot desert areas. The space shield was aiming for 1.8% shade effect.

Large balloons have a greater volume to surface area ratio so perhaps leakage is less of a problem if we think km^2 sized balloons rather than shopping bag size. But does this prevent convection and create glasshouse warming effect?

Low clouds cool while high clouds warm so should tethered balloons be used? Could they be rather flat in shape and hold vertical at night to let heat out and roughly perpendicular to sun during day? Topping up with gas would be less of a problem.

Fufufunknknk

I won't disagree that maybe this idea of silvered balloons doesn't work. There are a host of practical problems. There are also a lot of ways to make the idea more effective, for example, solar cells that generate hyrogen from atmospheric water or simple black paint to heat the balloons with the idea that the heat is sufficient to elevate the balloons...

My only point (and not about you) was that i hate outright dismissal of ideas without valid criticism. To me that is denialist territory. I recognize that the proponent of an idea bears the burden of proof but just ignore me if you can't be bothered with a valid criticism.. But dismissal with a snort and a pithy comment is banal.

crandles

Many plants like diffuse light while strong direct sunlight makes them wilt. Is it possible that some land like Texas could become more agriculturally productive under such balloons?

crandles

>"Without the math this means that if we have 4 years similar to the last 3, all the ice will be gone in the 3d yr. & in the 4th we'll have enough sensible heat to raise the top meter of the Arctic Ocean an additional >8.6C.

This energy pulse will repeat each year.

We've run out of time."

Ok, so we have an 8.6C effect heat impulse in the 4th year. But what stops there being an 8.5C effect heat pulse out to space in the winter? Some is going to interact with lower latitudes so 0.1C remainder is perhaps rather optimistic but that seems a bit doom laden without explaining this.

Jim Williams

Crandles, I'd think that the increase in the main greenhouse gas (H2O) would act as a considerable damper on the exit of infrared radiation as the ocean goes from ice covered to fog covered in Winter. That 8.5C doesn't sound believable to me.

Jim Williams

Actually, if Twemoran has done the math right feedbacks have been ignored but the winter heat loss has been included. It's the effective total heat pulse which has been computed based upon the recent ice loss.

Apocalypse4Real

Crandles:

No Beaufort Gyre: That seems to be borne out in the HYCOM/CICE forecast as well.

Other weather weirding is forecast as well. For example, the NAO, AO and PNA are negative or forecast to go strongly negative by Dec 1st.

http://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/products/precip/CWlink/daily_ao_index/teleconnections.shtml

However the US Climate Prediction Center forecast has the Central US with above normal temps for the next 6-14 days, with above average dryness - continued drought for the central US.

Alaska is forecast to have below normal temps and be dryer than normal.

http://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/

The US and European continental snow droughts continue.

http://climate.rutgers.edu/snowcover/chart_daily.php?ui_year=2012&ui_day=327&ui_set=2


crandles

I was doubting the 8.5C myself before you mentioned fog. Presumably there would be a higher temperatures at lower altitudes with the ocean being main heat source. So convection would occur resulting in rain? Can fog be maintained?

I am no expert at this.

I would expect higher temperatures to mean more evaporation and more precipitation with the level of water in the atmosphere being slightly higher as befits the higher temperature.

crandles

>"Actually, if Twemoran has done the math right feedbacks have been ignored but the winter heat loss has been included. It's the effective total heat pulse which has been computed based upon the recent ice loss."

Yes this fits what I am thinking. It is the ignored winter negative feedback that I am adding. ie with no ice cover heat can be lost faster. Higher temperature also means more outgoing radiation. (and more energy for convection to disrupt any fog)

OTOH you can argue that there is some summer albedo feedback missing as well.

Mike Constable

Terry,
In your calculation of heating in the Arctic (above) the figure of 8.6C looks suitable with the heating seen in the open seas in summer.

However your number of 1.21x10^12 m3 multiplied by 80 = 0.968x10^14, which will come out at 0.86C temperature rise for the 1st metre depth over the Arctic.
I am hoping I am right as that will mean the problem is less bad (and also that I have not missed something!)

There are a lot of variables which are beyond estimating (changes in albedo, fog, cloud) and the big (unexplained?) loss of volume occurred in 2010 and has not been as high since. Certainly the Arctic is ahead of most of the models, some of the graphs seem to be doing better (or worse for the ice!).

One problem I see with shading/reflection is that any effect is likely to be aimed at lower latitudes, which will make the differential temperatures with the poles decrease even further. It ain't that I am against "fixes", just they are not as good as sorting the problems (if we can afford to?)!

I think of Easter Island, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Easter_Island
are we heading there on a global scale?

Twemoran

The >8.6C is based on latent heat now being used to melt ice that will present itself as sensible heat when there is no ice undergoing phase change.

I'm not factoring in any additional heat sources - albedo,CO2, CH4 or water vapor, although it seems inevitable that positive feedbacks will occur.

This heat pulse is in addition to what heating we are already experiencing. The heat won't stay in the Arctic Ocean & I was only using the top meter of that as an illustration of the amount of energy involved.

Evaporation will transfer much of the heat to the atmosphere & weather will move it around the northern hemisphere quite rapidly.

The effects will be cumulative with each summers pulse adding to the last - less of course any additional energy radiated away over the course of the year.

I'd expect increased water vapor would hamper long wave radiation into space as it apparently did in the early Eocene.

Terry

Jim Williams

Terry, I think I'm correct that you are using the change in minimum volume over time, and so you are in effect factoring in any negative feedback which has happened in the last three winters adding to the total volume -- actually, not sure if you'd have gotten all three winters or just two......

How would this computation look with the maximum volumes? I found the mins conveniently enough on Jim Petit's graphs.

Twemoran

Mike

I hope you're right - I'll play with the figures & get back.

Terry

Twemoran

Thanks so much Mike for finding my error.

I had hoped that someone on this wonderful board would straighten me out - didn't think it would be simple math. The figures I was getting were so scary it must have frozen my brain.

Ice melted - 1,210 km3 / yr. = 1.21x10^12 m3

Arctic Ocean area ~140,090,000 km2 = ~1.4009x10^14 m2
Latent heat of H2O = 80C sensible heat

80 x 1.21x10^12 = 9.68x10^13

9.68/14.009 = .690984367C

I'd still argue that ~.7C of additional heat pulsing into the arctic each summer is alarming, if not as catastrophic as my earlier figure.

If ~.7 just isn't scary - think of the implications over a decade.

Terry

Steve C

I think balloon-based geoengineering (with mitigation!!!!) is interesting and worth thinking about.


Small balloons have problems of litter, high surface-volume ratio, and more.

Thinking big makes more sense to me. Hydrogen diffuses through almost anything, latex, plastic film, even metals. But graphene is impervious, so graphene-coated plastic films could be used. Yeah, we'd want km^2 sized units. At that size, they could have solar cells on top for power to run electrolysis on water either stored or captured from water vapor. You could even power fans to move the things slowly. Paint the top white and the bottom black. It would absorb outgoing IR and transfer it to the air at high altitude.

Steer them to the arctic in sommer, the southern hemispher in their summer.

And the whole thing could be funded by putting advertising on the underside. Ewww.

Chris Reynolds

Hi P Maker,

Why would you want to find reason to dispute figure 17? The Stone thesis antedates Budikova IIRC, science moves on. Bluthgen's work started off as a thesis but matured into a full peer reviewed paper - on the feedback of sea ice loss on the 2007 event.

When I'm feeling up to it I intend to re-read all the papers I have on the Arctic atmosphere's response to the changes there.

P-maker

Sorry Chris to have overlooked the fact about the publishing dates.

Had a quick look at the paper you referred me to. A neat - although conventional - story about the potential impacts of Arctic sea ice on the rest of the globe’s climate. I have been in this phase of my life earlier, I could see from the references I knew. However, good friends taught me to have my eyes open for other forcing mechanisms – including anthropogenic warming of the tropical oceans.

One of the main changes to the system, since this review paper was published , is related to the change of seasons. Most of the old science referred to in the paper include October as a winter month (which was probably true in those days). Now, I think that October is end of the summer season, which put some of our recent findings in a different perspective.

I hope we can leave it here for a moment.

Jim Hunt

Whatever the cause it is still raining hard here in South West England. One elderly man has already died, and the severe flood warnings (Danger of death) are coming thick and fast at the moment:

http://econnexus.org/severe-flood-warnings-for-helston-and-polperro/

and Perranporth as well now.

Neven

Jim, I hope everything will go well!

Jim Hunt

Not as well as one might have hoped and/or prayed for Neven. This morning it is my sad duty to report on death and lifeboats in my city:

http://econnexus.org/falling-tree-kills-exeter-woman/

Are you on Facebook by any chance?

Paddy

I'm interested by this talk of the benefit of making new reservoirs through dam-building in ameliorating sea level rise.

Does anyone know the effect on warming and cooling (thinking particularly of albedo, convection-driven cooling, and possibly cloud formation) of trading land for water?

Neven

Are you on Facebook by any chance?

Nope.

Mike Constable

Large bodies of water moderate climate, cooling summer heat and warming winters, the drying of the Aral Sea has made the fluctuations much worse. They also provide more moisture for the atmosphere.
Not sure whether they increase global warming by increasing absorption of solar radiation (including water vapour) or decrease it by providing more clouds - probably depends on location. My gut feeling is that moist land is darker, vapour is a gh gas so net warmer. Balance is that local climate would be better for crops/people?

Chris Reynolds

Jim,

I'm still not totally persuaded about there being an Arctic role in this recent flooding, aside from the role in the summer rainfall as 'priming' the water table for flooding. And yet again we have a month's rainfall in a day - a phrase that is becoming more and more common.

That said both 2012 and 2007 are notable flood years for the UK, and both were crashes in the Arctic. Coincidence? I don't know.

I've decided to start recording BBC News 24 coverage of these events. I suspect that in years to come they may be seen as the start.

D

Artful Dodger:

Not understanding the scale of the sea level rise problem.

1, There's not enough volume in those lake basins.

2, The dead sea at least is surrounded by significant develop and industrial projects.

3, Filling a dry lake bed with water will lower it's albedo probably by about 0.2, increasing the amount of heat Earth absorbs, which will actually drive UP the temperature in the surrounding region.

4, drilling the tunnels and making the pipes (so that salt water doesn't contaminate drinking water or fresh water environments, would be incredibly cost-prohibitive.

5, The excess weight of water on the continent will cause the continent to sink some, increasing relative sea levels on the ocean-side anyway, actually flooding as much or more land in total anyway.

Chris Reynolds

Paddy, Mike,

You'd dampen the air locally, whether this would result in more rainfall locally is quite another matter.

Are you thinking of salty inland seas - i.e. sea water, or damming rivers?
Salty - you'd taint the local water table. Damming rivers - you'd flood farmland, and good farmland will be in short supply in the future.

Is you're thinking of desalinisation of sea water to fill these lakes - where do you get the energy from?

Mike,

Actually damp soil pegs the temperature down, as energy goes into evaporating the moisture. Once the moisture is evaporated and the soil dry that's when the temperatures really increase.

Mike Constable

Chris,
Yes, the temperature of moist soil is lower so LESS outgoing long wave radiation, but more short wave from the sun absorbed because it is darker, actually making the energy balance even worse globally?

Aral Sea has ended up giving salty dust storms, really could do with being filled to get back where it used to be.

Chris Reynolds

Not sure about energy balance on a global scale. You'd have to model it. Moist soil causes more evaporation, that causes more vigorous convection (rising latent heat - condensation - warming aloft due to release of heat of evaporation), leading to more IR emission higher in the atmosphere, which can more readily radiate to space.

With what do you fill the Aral Sea? Sea water or fresh water, if it's the latter - where do you get it from? BTW efforts are underway to refill it at present, it's grown from its lowest point some years ago.

Jim Hunt

Hi Chris,

I'm gradually drifting off topic here, but whilst autumn storms are not unusual in Devon, this amount of rain in such a brief period certainly is, as are the already saturated soils at this time of year. As that nice Mr. Obama said recently "We can’t attribute any particular weather event to climate change."

I gave the local planning committee a piece of my mind earlier, after spending a couple of hours listening to them going round in circles debating whether to allow the erection of 350 dwellings on grade 1 agricultural land which may or may not be prone to flooding. It's seems a demand for the applicant to cough up £600,000 for developing 3 hectares of employment land in the near vicinity was also part of the deal. Growth in both population and economic activity thus still seems to be the order of the day, as does covering hundreds of acres of food producing land with silicon. I couldn't take any more of this, and resorted to reductio ad absurdum when my turn to speak ultimately arrived:

http://econnexus.org/teignbridge-dc-refuse-second-application-for-fulford-solar-kettle/

My written submissions had included references to Arctic sea-ice and albedo, but that didn't seem to have registered on anyone's radar screen. Still an "F" on the intelligence test as best as I can make out, I'm afraid.

Jim Hunt

Video of Kevin Anderson's presentation at the Cabot Institute in Bristol is now available:

http://www.bristol.ac.uk/cabot/events/2012/194.html

Kevin says "The climate change emperor is naked" I think that means his grade would be an F---

Paddy

@Chris,

I hadn't yet leapt so far as to suggest more dams as a deliberate measure to hold back warming, more wondering what the effect of the current trend towards more dams (for other reasons) might be. TBH, I'd be a little surprised if we're creating enough new water cover to seriously alter the climate very much, but I was really wondering if anyone here had some idea of the numbers.

To answer your question as best I can, though: I believe that most such projects use freshwater, due to the dual utility value for irrigation and for hydroelectricity (you don't get a lot of salt water flowing downhill to harness for hydroelectric power). But some applications, particularly the creation of a power reservoir from an irregular power supply (e.g. wind) by pumping water uphill, could conceivably use seawater.

Chris Reynolds

Hi Paddy,

I think this all refers to further up thread where it was being suggested that land reservoirs could offset sea level rise.

Jim,

I think this flooding can be seen as follows.

1) Exceptionally wet summer, one of a series of wet summers due to a shift in northern hemisphere circulation since 2007. This shift happened coincident with the loss of 1/4 of area of sea ice in Arctic at summer minimum. This shift played a role in the loss of sea ice that year and in years since.

2) Following 2012's wet summer there has been no prolonged dry spell to allow the water tables to drop. Amounts of rain don't seem to have been unusual on a per month basis, nor are successions of low pressure systems in autumn unusual.

So to summarise, the wet summer was due to climate change, but the subsequent flooding in November was predicated by conditions preceding the rainfall that was its direct cause.

At this stage anyone who buys property low down close to rivers, or on flood plains is an idiot. Perhaps it's time to allow market forces to crash the price of property in such areas - for crash it will in the remaining years of this decade. A continuing tendency to wet summers will see to that.

Chris Reynolds

Here's a plain English account of the best case scenario.
http://physics.ucf.edu/~britt/Climate/Reading1-Last%20great%20warming.pdf
Our best case scenario is a re-run of the PETM.

Fairfax Climate Watch

I have been modeling a scenario for a methane release. I am using the published research of Reagan and others as a basis for flux totals and rates of emissions.

Sorting through the data output is a large task, but so far I have results of about a 12 degree Celsius warming over a 90 year period after initial release; most of the warming happens in the first 20 to 30 years.

So far, I have examined the U.S. central plains in detail, and I can confidently say that the first 10 years after emissions start, agriculture would remain in a similar state as it is today (2011 to 2013) - stressed. Yields would stay at a plateau or drop slightly.

In the 10 to 20 years after initial emissions begin, agriculture output would suffer complete failure on regional scales. Even irrigated fields would see major declines in yield over that decade. The

next decade would be worse, and so on. It appears that the majority of the North American south would turn into either scrub-land, dessert, or a combination of the two. Temperatures would be hot for most of the year, but still get below freezing on winter nights.

The good news, or the less-worse news, is that temperature rise would slow down about halfway through the century. Also, there might be a temporary reprieve from incessant heat waves if the polar ice caps disintegrate quickly.

I'm working to publish a series of articles on my findings here: http://climatewatch.typepad.com/blog/

Jim Hunt

Chris - BBC Weather's analysis of the recent floods here in SW England:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/weather/features/20531012

"The most rapid turnaround from drought to, in places, flood and sustained through a warm season that's ever been recorded in modern times".

According to Wunderground the November rainfall numbers for Exeter are 69.81 mm compared to an average of 11.4 mm.

According to the video, the jetstream is to blame!

Chris Reynolds

Jim,

Yes this has been a year of weird weather. I've little doubt that it's been due to a combination of AGW and Arctic sea ice loss. The Jetstream is the proximate cause - what's impacting the Jetstream is not generally mentioned by the media, nor is the role of the intensification of the hydrological cycle by AGW.

M. Owens,

I'll read with interest, but expect challenges! Your warming figures seem to me to be too fast. It'll take time for the warming to get into the fossil permafrost stored up during the ice ages, and the amount of free CH4 gas may (IMO) be overestimated by the researchers on the Siberian Arctic Shelf.
http://dosbat.blogspot.co.uk/2012/02/arctic-methane-imminent-abrupt-and.html

Fairfax Climate Watch

Chris, in part I'm using work by Reagan (2008) which shows that sediment density and the temperature-pressure gradient could cause the release to initiate nearly instantly, going from basically zero flux to max flux at sediment-water boundary within one year and remaining at that flux rate for quite some time, possibly hundreds of years.

Their simulation is based on a warming of the water over the sediment layer of 1, 3, or 5 deg C per 100 years and assumes the rate of change of the water to be linear.

As we're seeing this year, the water is prone to warm much much faster at the bottom in those shallow shelf areas of the Arctic Ocean. As a rule of thumb, it takes about one month (really about +- 0.5 depending on depth and local characteristics) per meter for a new temperature of the overlying water to diffuse into the sediment below.

As far as the permafrost, much of the same calculations for temperature diffusion apply as much of the permafrost (increasingly) has lakes on it.

Chris Reynolds

Matt,

I won't go into a total reiteration of what's already in that blog post. But Reagan "Large-scale simulation of methane hydrate dissociation along the West Spitsbergen Margin" doesn't seem to me to support massive releases that could cause a warming of 12 degC in 90 years.

Paleo evidence shows that the eruptions of methane are self-limiting events - causing pock marks of limited size. And as I show in the blog post there is research that shows that near to the very faults and discontinuities that are claimed to be the future focal points of a massive release, the depth of the free methane layer is less than under undisturbed sediment.

This is why past methane driven events like the PETM took tens of millennia to unfold - the increase in temperature takes a long time to penetrate depth of sediment. So rather than one massive blow out there is an ongoing chronic release, probably characterised by 'blow outs' as it proceeds. Indeed if one were to blow out a substantial amount of methane the resultant warming would not persist for as long as a CO2 driven warming - because CO2 is a transient species in the atmosphere. And yes I am aware of the impact on OH.

I intend to post on my blog in the next few days about why we're rerunning the PETM at least. But that does not mean I find the argument that we face a rapid and catastrophic methane pulse this century is well founded.

Fairfax Climate Watch


The release of carbon dioxide and methane into the atmosphere from dissociating clathrates is not predicted to mainly occur in ways that would create similar pock marks to those large older ones. The gas release would occur diffusely at similar depths (along a pressure-temperature gradient of clathrate dissociation), and as temperatures warmed, that line would grow fatter, stretching into deeper depths of water. Indeed, a recent survey of current Arctic methane plume distribution is consistent with this expectation. The gas release would continue beyond the time of exhaustion of the initial volume of CH4 via biological activity which regenerates the methane from carbon buried in the oxygen-deprived sediment. That biological activity will increase as temperature rises.

Considering that sea temperatures from the bottom, just above the sediment surface were 1 to 2 degrees C warmer off the U.S. East Coast this summer (http://www.nefsc.noaa.gov/press_release/2012/SciSpot/SS1209/), I've included a much more rapid and steep flux rate than in both Reagan's and Archer's models.

For links to free-copies of many of the papers that are relevant, you can see the "research links" on the right hand side of the site Fairfax Climate Watch: http://climatewatch.typepad.com/

But you may need a few days to read through all of it :) !

Fairfax Climate Watch

so my scenario is based on an assumption that bottom water in the shallow Arctic Ocean will rise steeply in the near future, but at least 5 degrees C on an annual average basis. Personally, judging by the DMI temperature numbers for the north Arctic, I will not be surprised if those waters are 10 degrees or 15 degrees C warmer, and very soon! the temperature rise, on an annual average basis, will take about 10 years to reach 100 meters depth of sediment layers. This, to me, is quite fast - and very dangerous.

What's more, very recent research further South off the North American coast shows that hydrates there are already starting to dissociate.

Fairfax Climate Watch

just to be clear, that means that if the average annual water temperature above an aquatic sediment layer rises by 5 degrees and stays at that level, then the sediment layer 100 meters below the surface sediment will also rise by 5 degrees at around 10 years time. And, the sediment layer at 50 meters depth would have risen by 5 degrees at about 5 years time.

Steve Bloom

Chris, while I don't necessarily agree that Matt's arguments are watertight, I would note that the past is a less than ideal guide to the present when the rate of change in forcing is without precedent. Considering the massive changes in scientific understanding of Arctic climate process in just the last few years, we should expect more of the unexpected.

Steve Bloom

Everyone interested in the Arctic jet stream changes should read the GC33B (posters) and GC44B (talks) session materials from the AGU fall meeting, noting in particular the Francis and Vavrus report of model confirmation of their hypothesis (details to appear in a 2013 paper, presumably). Note that they and some others have eposters that have to be searched for separately.

Steve Bloom

Aha, I just noticed that thus far Francis and Vavrus are the only GC33B participants to have uploaded a poster. That's too bad, although maybe others will appear in the next few days.

Chris Reynolds

Matt,

While writing my posts on Arctic methane I gathered and read something over 30 research papers. I prefer to use primary published science rather than websites.

The crucial issue for massive and abrupt release of CH4 is the amount of free gas trapped under the frozen gas hydrate at the base of the GHSZ (Gas hydrate stability zone). Release of the bulk of the permafrost stores will occur more slowly as they thaw. But provided channels are available the underlying free gas can vent to the ocean rapidly. e.g. from Wikipedia:

At Blake Ridge on the Atlantic continental rise, the GHSZ started at 190 m depth and continued to 450 m, where it reached equilibrium with the gaseous phase. Measurements indicated that methane occupied 0-9% by volume in the GHSZ, and ~12% in the gaseous zone.

You assert that the release process at present will be different to that in the past. I am puzzled by this claim and see no reason for it to be the case.

Leaving aside Abbot & Tzipperman's hypothesis, which probably needs a lot more warming to start. The amplification of GW in the Arctic is a limiting process, it does not continue indefinitely. This is because the bulk of the arctic amplification is due to atmospheric humidity and loss of sea ice. The Arctic atmosphere starts off dry and cold, as it warms it moistens (Clausius Clapeyron) creating an enhanced greenhouse effect. So once the ice is gone in summer and the atmosphere humid, a diminishing returns situation starts as the spectral bands of water vapour become saturated. As this proceeds you have the thermal lag of the ocean. Even in the tropics at 1000m deep the water is still only 5degC. The oceans have a massive thermal capacity and are pre-chilled from the ice ages. So they take time to warm. The Arctic will warm fast, but it will still lose heat during the winter. So to expect continental shelf bottom temperatures as high as 10degC isn't really realistic this century.

You say:

if the average annual water temperature above an aquatic sediment layer rises by 5 degrees and stays at that level, then the sediment layer 100 meters below the surface sediment will also rise by 5 degrees at around 10 years time. And, the sediment layer at 50 meters depth would have risen by 5 degrees at about 5 years time.

Have you modelled this?

Steve,

The oceans are colder - hold more CO2 than the PETM times (at Demerara ridge temperature 3km down was around 10deg C - would be near zero now at that depth). The methane hydrates are substantially larger containing fossil clathrates from repeated ice ages. But the mechanical process of pockmark formation and gas release, and the physical process of heat conduction through sediments and thaw of clathrate (endothermic process) haven't changed. So I still think Archer is right in fearing a chronic rather than rapid and catastrophic release. Not that a chronic release doesn't mean a disaster - it just unfolds slower.

Chris Reynolds

Steve,

Should have added - Oceans will warm, so they may be able to outgas more CO2.

Fairfax Climate Watch

The temperature diffusion rate through aquatic sediment is well studied...the modeling of it goes back about one hundred years. The more recent advancements in the modeling of temp diffusion rate adds a bit of precision, but not a great deal more. The numbers I cited here are based on 1 meter per month as a rule of thumb. If you read Archer's work and Reagan's work, you will see that his model results have similar temp diffusion rates. Their rates are a bit faster at shallow depths and a bit slower at deeper depths (of sediment). All in all, for the methane deposits they've modeled, the 1 meter per month rule of thumb is fine if you include a margin of error in the final result of plus or minus 20% final time.

Therefore:
(100 meters)x(1 meter per month) = 8.3 years plus or minus 1.5 years for an instantaneous increase of temperature at the sediment/water interface to equilibrate with the sediment at 100 meters depth.

Fairfax Climate Watch

Considering five points, modeling the Arctic water temperature change is not called for in my opinion: 1) the bottom temperature along the American Atlantic this summer 2) the ongoing sea ice decline 3) the insulating effects of sea ice in the winter and heating effect of ice-free conditions in summer 4) the potential for ocean currents to shift in unexpected/non-modeled ways, as has been observed at more southern Atlantic coastal areas to be triggering hydrate decay 5) the increase in air temperature observed over the Arctic Ocean in recent years.

Fairfax Climate Watch

As far as the water itself resisting warming, the Siberian shelf, the largest continental shelf in the world, has an average (water) depth of 100 meters. 100 meters from ocean surface to water/sediment interface. 100 meters, not 1000 meters.

Fairfax Climate Watch

The Blake Ridge you cited is off of Georgia. That's a long way from the Arctic. If you read the studies, you would know that the depth and location of the Blake Ridge makes it behave fundamentally different than the Arctic. The GHSZ is explicitly stated to be different for these different areas. It is shallow in the Arctic, completely different from conditions at the Blake Ridge! Yes the GHSZ is deeper at the Blake Ridge than it is in the Arctic. That is why the Arctic will respond so quickly - which is what Reagan found when he modeled three zones, warm shallow, cold shallow, and deep ocean. Again, see the Research Links I cited above.

Chris Reynolds

Matt.

You state:

The numbers I cited here are based on 1 meter per month as a rule of thumb. If you read Archer's work and Reagan's work, you will see that his model results have similar temp diffusion rates

I've got a stack of Archer papers, just been through them, also been through several from Semiletov, Shakhova, McInerney, and a few other authors. Also been on google - total time taken about 45 minutes, result - nothing.

Please provide full references, like title of paper before claiming authors stated something or other.

The point I made (in my blog post) w.r.t. Blake Ridge - i.e. the Hornbach paper referenced in that blog post is not changed when transferring to the Arctic. The physical processes operating near discontinuities will be the same - as the pressure rises (amount of free CH4) so the discontinuity will offer a 'release valve' so lessening the thickness of the free CH4 at the base of the GHSZ.

As far as the water resisting warming - in late summer the open ocean areas are clearly around +5degC. Proof that this heat is lost is the presence of a layer of ice at the surface over the winter. The underlying ocean is not at +5degC. So my question regards modelling stands - because it's not as simple as the influx of heat into the sediment column in summer, there is the flux out of it during winter.

100 meters, not 1000 meters.

Doesn't alter the fact that the oceans are storing a lot of cold water. Far colder than during the PETM, and then the release was slow (~20k years).

Regards your five points:
1) I don't know what you mean by this. The MOC is very variable.
2) Agreed.
3) ...and the loss of heat in the autumn.
4) Surely this simply suggests it's not tractable for modelling - unless scenarios and prior assumptions are made.
5) Most of this is actually due to sea ice loss (heat flux in autumn), also due to increased influx of atmospheric heat.

Apocalypse4Real

The AIRS Giovanni and IASI methane imagery has been updated. Some interesting concentrations especially in the CAB in the AIRS data and in the Kara Sea in the IASI.

https://sites.google.com/site/apocalypse4realmethane2012/home/2012-vs-2011-airs-ch4-359-hpa


Fairfax Climate Watch

Chris:

Today's cold water of the Arctic is why the methane release is potentially so massive and sudden.

It is because of the cold water in the Arctic that the hydrates have formed a stable zone (i.e GHSZ) where they have - which is very close to the surface!

A pressure-temperature gradient is what determines their location.

Pressure increases with depth. More pressure and colder temperature = hydrates.

Less pressure and warmer temperature = gas.

The absolute temperature of the water is not what matters for methane release rate. What matters is the relative change in temperature and the rate of that change.

This is because the hydrates in the sediment formed under a set of pressure and temperature limits that have defined their location.

Again, it is because the Arctic has been so cold that the hydrates have formed so close to the surface of the sediment.

In warmer times of the past, the GHSZ would have been located much deeper into the sediment layers. When the temperature changes slowly, then only a small amount of the hydrate decays each year, and the overlying sediment has the ability to mostly turn that CH4 into CO2 - and even though the CO2 would still be mostly or partly escaping in that situation, whatever did escape would be released at a much, much lower rate than under the rapid warming scenario we are now living in.

So: The temperature today of the overlying water determines the location of the GHSZ. Because it is so cold in the Arctic, that zone near the surface. If the 100 meter deep Arctic waters warm by several degrees on an average annual basis, as observations and theory suggest it could easily do, then the GHSZ will drop fast and far and we will soon come to know just how much methane is down there.

Fairfax Climate Watch

For anyone that wants to see first hand what this methane generating process is like, you can get a good idea of it fairly easily. Take a clear jar, add about 3 inches of dirt and then fill with water. Stir thoroughly; wait a few days/weeks without moving the jar at all and you'll see bubbles forming in the sediment...

...a very similar process that has been happening on a huge scale in the Arctic Ocean, and ocean sediments all around the world.

Chris Reynolds

I agree that the cold temperatures have facilitated a shallower GHSZ. However during the Paleocene just as the hydrates were much deeper - so the water was much warmer. The Arctic waters are still very cold and heat loss during the autumn, and increasingly winter (in the decades to come), will mitigate the warming of the Arctic waters. Hence mitigating sediment warming.

I don't think we'll see the catastrophic GW of the sort Shakhova outlines:

...we consider release of up to 50 Gt of predicted amount of hydrate storage as highly possible for abrupt release at any time. That may cause 12-times increase of modern atmospheric methane burden with consequent catastrophic greenhouse warming.

And to be precise, this abrupt release is from free methane at the bottom of the GHSZ. Not from melt of sediment permafrost.

I do think that over the course of the next few decades we will see the start of massive emissions, which over the course of the next few millennia will kick temperatures well above what we can manage with our emissions alone. It's the idea of an 'imminent and abrupt release' that I consider poorly evidenced.

Chris Reynolds

For what it's worth, here's my take on the significance of current events in the Arctic and what the methane situation means for the future: Something Wicked This Way Comes.

Apocalypse4Real

While prepping to update the Arctic Methane imagery for Dec 1-10, I found that I can place the imagery in Google Earth.

Also, for those interested in aerosol, black carbon, soot or albedo impacts on Greenland and elsewhere in the Arctic, Giovanni has just released an interactive report view using Google Earth.

http://disc.sci.gsfc.nasa.gov/giovanni/overview/index.html

Apocalypse4Real

The Arctic methane/CH4 imagery for Dec 1-10, 2012 from AIRS/Giovanni 359 mb and IASI 600 mb are now available.

AIRS shows readings above 1870 ppbv over the CAB, Laptev Sea and a large cluster of readings over 1900 PPBv in southern Siberia and Mongolia.

The 600 mb IASI data shows a large area of readings over 1920 PPBv stretching from the northern Kara Sea through the Barents, the areas south and west of Svalbard, and the Norwegian Sea. There is another cluster in Baffin Bay/Davis Strait, and a small area in the Hudson Bay.

https://sites.google.com/site/apocalypse4realmethane2012/home/2012-Arctic-CH4-AIRS-359-hPa-vs-IASI-970-600-mb

In addition, the IASI/METOP 2 early release data is showing areas with readings above 2000-2100 PPBV in scattered areas across the Arctic, Hudson Bay, BAffin Bay, Barents and in Tibet/southern Siberia from Dec 5 through 11 at varying mb levels.

Apocalypse4Real

One new thing - I have found a way to download the AIRS/Giovanni imagery into Google Earth. An intial image is included.

The kmz displays data for the whole earth, not just the Arctic.

Chris Reynolds

New UNEP report on melting permafrost:

Carbon dioxide (CO2) and methane emissions from thawing permafrost could amplify warming due to anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions. This amplification is called the permafrost carbon feedback. Permafrost contains ~1700 gigatonnes (Gt) of carbon in the form of frozen organic matter, almost twice as much carbon as currently in the atmosphere. If the permafrost thaws, the organic matter will thaw and decay, potentially releasing large amounts of CO2 and methane into the atmosphere. This organic material was buried and frozen thousands of years ago and its release into the atmosphere is irreversible on human time scales. Thawing permafrost could emit 43 to 135 Gt of CO2 equivalent by 2100 and 246 to 415 Gt of CO2 equivalent by 2200. Uncertainties are large, but emissions from thawing permafrost could start within the next few decades and continue for several centuries, influencing both short-term climate (before 2100) and long-term climate (after 2100).

http://permafrost.gi.alaska.edu/sites/default/files/permafrost.pdf

Sorry if it's already been linked to on this blog.

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