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Arctic seafloor methane releases double previous estimates

Arctic seafloor methane releases double previous estimates

Natalia Shakhova,


Methane burns as it escapes through a hole in the ice in a lagoon above the East Siberian Arctic Shelf. (Credit: Photo courtesy Natalia Shakhova)

Nov. 25, 2013 — The seafloor off the coast of Northern Siberia is releasing more than twice the amount of methane as previously estimated, according to new research results published in the Nov. 24 edition of the journal Nature Geoscience.

The East Siberian Arctic Shelf is venting at least 17 teragrams of the methane into the atmosphere each year. A teragram is equal to 1 million tons.

“It is now on par with the methane being released from the arctic tundra, which is considered to be one of the major sources of methane in the Northern Hemisphere,” said Natalia Shakhova, one of the paper’s lead authors and a scientist at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. “Increased methane releases in this area are a possible new climate-change-driven factor that will strengthen over time.”

Methane is a greenhouse gas more than 30 times more potent than carbon dioxide. On land, methane is released when previously frozen organic material decomposes. In the seabed, methane can be stored as a pre-formed gas or asmethane hydrates. As long as the subsea permafrost remains frozen, it forms a cap, effectively trapping the methane beneath. However, as the permafrost thaws, it develops holes, which allow the methane to escape. These releases can be larger and more abrupt than those that result from decomposition.

The findings are the latest in an ongoing international research project led by Shakhova and Igor Semiletov, both researchers at the UAF International Arctic Research Center. Their twice-yearly arctic expeditions have revealed that the subsea permafrost in the area has thawed much more extensively than previously thought, in part due to warming water near the bottom of the ocean. The warming has created conditions that allow the subsea methane to escape in much greater amounts than their earlier models estimated. Frequent storms in the area hasten its release into the atmosphere, much in the same way stirring a soda releases the carbonation more quickly.

“Results of this study represent a big step forward toward improving our understanding of methane emissions from the East Siberian Arctic Shelf,” said Shakhova. She noted that while the ESAS is unusual in its expansive and shallow nature, the team’s findings there speak to the need for further exploration of the subsea Arctic. “I believe that all other arctic shelf areas are significantly underestimated and should be paid very careful attention to.”

The East Siberian Arctic Shelf is a methane-rich area that encompasses more than 2 million square kilometers of seafloor in the Arctic Ocean. It is more than three times as large as the nearby Siberian wetlands, which have been considered the primary Northern Hemisphere source of atmospheric methane. Previous estimates performed for the ESAS suggested that the area was releasing 8 teragrams of methane into the atmosphere yearly.

During field expeditions, the research team used a variety of techniques — including sonar and visual images of methane bubbles in the water, air and water sampling, seafloor drilling and temperature readings — to determine the conditions of the water and permafrost, as well as the amount of methane being released.

Methane is an important factor in global climate change, because it so effectively traps heat. As conditions warm, global research has indicated that more methane is released, which then stands to further warm the planet. Scientists call this phenomenon a positive feedback loop.

“We believe that the release of methane from the Arctic, and in particular this part of the Arctic, could impact the entire globe,” Shakhova said. “We are trying to understand the actual contribution of the ESAS to the global methane budget and how that will change over time.”

Story Source:

The above story is based on materialsprovided by University of Alaska Fairbanks.

Note: Materials may be edited for content and length. For further information, please contact the source cited above.

tory Source:The above story is based on materialsprovided by University of Alaska Fairbanks.Note: Materials may be edited for content and length. For further information, please contact the source cited above.

Journal Reference:Natalia Shakhova, Igor Semiletov, Ira Leifer, Valentin Sergienko, Anatoly Salyuk, Denis Kosmach, Denis Chernykh, Chris Stubbs, Dmitry Nicolsky, Vladimir Tumskoy, Örjan Gustafsson. Ebullition and storm-induced methane release from the East Siberian Arctic Shelf. Nature Geoscience, 2013; DOI: 10.1038/ngeo2007


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Study: Temperatures go off the charts around 2047

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This undated handout photo provided by Marinelifephotography.com shows Soft corals, crinoids and associated reef fishes in Southeast Sulawesi, Indonesia. A new study on the timing of climate change calculates the probable dates for when cities and ecosystems across the world would regularly experience never-before-seen hotter environments based on about 150 years of record-keeping. These are the dates when every year is hotter than old hottest annual record. This means the old blistering heat of people’s memories will eventually seem unusually cool in comparison to the warming years to come. Coral reef species are the first to be stuck in a new climate that they haven’t experienced before and are most vulnerable to climate change, Mora said. Coral reefs will be in that new regime around 2030. (AP Photo/Keoki Stender, Marinelifephotography.com)WASHINGTON (AP) — Starting in about a decade, Kingston, Jamaica, will probably be off-the-charts hot — permanently. Other places will soon follow. Singapore in 2028. Mexico City in 2031. Cairo in 2036. Phoenix and Honolulu in 2043.

And eventually the whole world in 2047.

A new study on global warming pinpoints the probable dates for when cities and ecosystems around the world will regularly experience hotter environments the likes of which they have never seen before.

And for dozens of cities, mostly in the tropics, those dates are a generation or less away.

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“This paper is both innovative and sobering,” said Oregon State University professor Jane Lubchenco, former head of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, who was not involved in the study.

To arrive at their projections, the researchers used weather observations, computer models and other data to calculate the point at which every year from then on will be warmer than the hottest year ever recorded over the last 150 years.

For example, the world as a whole had its hottest year on record in 2005. The new study, published Wednesday in the journal Nature, says that by the year 2047, every year that follows will probably be hotter than that record-setting scorcher.

Eventually, the coldest year in a particular city or region will be hotter than the hottest year in its past.

Study author Camilo Mora and his colleagues said they hope this new way of looking at climate change will spur governments to do something before it is too late.

“Now is the time to act,” said another study co-author, Ryan Longman.

Mora, a biological geographer at the University of Hawaii, and colleagues ran simulations from 39 different computer models and looked at hundreds of thousands of species, maps and data points to ask when places will have “an environment like we had never seen before.”

The 2047 date for the whole world is based on continually increasing emissions of greenhouse gases from the burning of coal, oil and natural gases. If the world manages to reduce its emissions of carbon dioxide and other gases, that would be pushed to as late as 2069, according to Mora.

But for now, Mora said, the world is rushing toward the 2047 date.

“One can think of this year as a kind of threshold into a hot new world from which one never goes back,” said Carnegie Institution climate scientist Chris Field, who was not part of the study. “This is really dramatic.”

Mora forecasts that the unprecedented heat starts in 2020 with Manokwa, Indonesia. Then Kingston, Jamaica. Within the next two decades, 59 cities will be living in what is essentially a new climate, including Singapore, Havana, Kuala Lumpur and Mexico City.

By 2043, 147 cities — more than half of those studied — will have shifted to a hotter temperature regime that is beyond historical records.

The first U.S. cities to feel that would be Honolulu and Phoenix, followed by San Diego and Orlando, Fla., in 2046. New York and Washington will get new climates around 2047, with Los Angeles, Detroit, Houston, Chicago, Seattle, Austin and Dallas a bit later.

Mora calculated that the last of the 265 cities to move into their new climate will be Anchorage, Alaska — in 2071. There’s a five-year margin of error on the estimates.

Unlike previous research, the study highlights the tropics more than the polar regions. In the tropics, temperatures don’t vary much, so a small increase can have large effects on ecosystems, he said. A 3-degree change is not much to polar regions but is dramatic in the tropics, which hold most of the Earth’s biodiversity, he said.

The Mora team found that by one measurement — ocean acidity — Earth has already crossed the threshold into an entirely new regime. That happened in about 2008, with every year since then more acidic than the old record, according to study co-author Abby Frazier.

Of the species studied, coral reefs will be the first stuck in a new climate — around 2030 — and are most vulnerable to climate change, Mora said.

Judith Curry, a Georgia Institute of Technology climate scientist who often clashes with mainstream scientists, said she found Mora’s approach to make more sense than the massive report that came out of the U.N.-sponsored Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change last month.

Pennsylvania State University climate scientist Michael Mann said the research “may actually be presenting an overly rosy scenario when it comes to how close we are to passing the threshold for dangerous climate impacts.”

“By some measures, we are already there,” he said.

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Online:

Nature: http://www.nature.com/nature

Mora lab: http://www.soc.hawaii.edu/mora/

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Seth Borenstein be followed at http://twitter.com/borenbears

http://bigstory.ap.org/article/study-temperatures-go-charts-around-2047

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Dr. Jeff Masters’ WunderBlog : Typhoon Utor Pounds Phiippines, Heads for China | Weather Underground

Typhoon Utor Pounds Phiippines, Heads for China

Posted by: Dr. Jeff Masters, 1:51 PM GMT on August 12, 2013 +52

Typhoon Utor powered ashore on the northern Philippine Island of Luzon on Monday near 3 am local time (3 pm EDT Sunday) as a Category 4 storm with 140 mph winds. Damage was heavy in Casiguran(population 24,000) near where the typhoon made landfall, with 80% of the infrastructure of the town reportedly destroyed, and all roads into the city blocked. Utor is being blamed for two deaths so far, and 44 fishermen are reported as missing.

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Figure 1. MODIS satellite image of Typhoon Utor taken at approximately 02:30 UTC on Monday, August 12. At the time, Utor was a Category 2 storm with 100 mph winds. Image credit:NASA.

Passage over Luzon disrupted the inner core of Utor, reducing the storm to Category 2 strength with winds of 100 mph. Satellite imagery shows that the typhoon is re-organizing, and a new eyewall is forming. Ocean temperatures are very warm, about 30°C (86°F), which is approximately 0.5 – 1.0°C above average.These warm watersextend to tremendous depth, giving Utor a huge source of energy to tap into. Wind shear is low, 5 – 10 knots. These favorable conditions for intensification will last until the typhoon gets midway between the Philippines and China, where wind shear will rise to the moderate range and ocean waters will cool to 29°C with a much lower heat content. I expect Utor will intensify into a Category 3 storm today, and make landfall in China as a Category 2 or 3 storm about 200 hundred miles southwest of Hong Kong about 06 UTC on Wednesday. Utor is a very wet storm, and will likely bring a large swath of 8+ inches of rain across Southeast China on Wednesday. These rains will cause dangerous flash flooding and mudslides.

Utor is a Marshallese word for squall line, andhas been used for three tropical cyclones in the Western Pacific–in 2001, 2006, and 2013. Utor reached super typhoon status with 150 mph winds on Sunday, making it the strongest tropical cyclone globally so far in 2013. Earth’s previous most powerful tropical cyclone of 2013 was Typhoon Soulik,which reached Category 4 strength with 145 mph winds on July 10. Soulik weakened to a Category 2 storm before hitting Taiwan on July 12.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VmbrOr96w00&feature=youtube_gdata_playerhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VmbrOr96w00&feature=youtube_gdata_player

Video 1. News video of the damage from Typhoon Utor in Casiguran in the Philippines. Utor is being called Typhoon Labuyo locally in the Philippines. Thanks to wunderground member AussieStorm for posting this in my blog comments.

(To read the rest of this article please click the link below to go to the full story eith comments on Dr Master’ blog)

http://www.wunderground.com/blog/JeffMasters/comment.html?entrynum=2486


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Perseid meteor shower: Coming soon to a sky near you – CSMonitor.com

Perseid meteor shower: Beloved by skywatchers, 2013 will be an excellent one for the Perseid meteor shower. The moon will set before midnight on the peak Perseids nights.

By Joe Rao, Space.com / July 27, 2013

7 27 13 perseid meteor full 300

7 27 13 perseid meteor full 300

NASA Astronaut Ron Garan, Expedition 28 flight engineer, tweeted this image from the International Space Station on Sunday Aug. 14 2011 with the following caption: “What a ‘Shooting Star’ looks like from space, taken yesterday during Perseid Meteor Shower.”

(AP Photo/Ron Garan – NASA)Between Aug. 3 and 15, there are no fewer than six different active minor displays. These sixmeteor showers are listed in the table below.

The actual number of meteors a single observer can see in an hour depends strongly on sky conditions, but the only equipment you’ll need to see them are your eyes and a modest amount of patience.

The rates given in the table are based on a limited star magnitude of +6.5 (considered to be the faintest star visible to the naked eye without the use of binoculars or atelescope), an experienced observer, and an assumption that the radiant is directly overhead.

The radiant is the place in the sky where the paths of meteors, if extended backward, would intersect when plotted on a star chart. Your clenched fist held at arm’s length is equal to roughly 10 degrees on the sky. So if the radiant is 30 degrees (“three-fists”) above the horizon, the hourly rate is halved; at 15 degrees, it is one-third.

While the hourly rates from these other meteor streams provide but a fraction of the numbers produced by the Perseids, combined, overall they provide a wide variety of meteors of differing colors, speeds and trajectories. Among these are the southern Delta Aquarids, which can produce faint, medium-speed meteors; the Alpha Capricornids, described as bright yellowish meteors and the Kappa Cygnids, which sometimes produce fireballs. As such, if you stay out and watch long enough, you may be nicely rewarded for your time spent.

Note that five of the six showers listed come from the region around the constellations of Aquarius and Capricornus. Theseconstellations are highest in the southern sky between roughly 1 a. m. and 3 a.m. Eastern time. The Kappa Cygnids appear to emanate from the constellation Cygnus, which will appear more or less overhead within an hour of local midnight.

Currently, the one drawback in watching for meteors is a bright gibbous moon, which this weekend will wane to last quarter on Sunday.

As Robert Lunsford of theAmerican Meteor Societypoints out, “the waning gibbous moon will rise later during the evening hours, but will still be in the sky during the more active morning hours, causing considerable interference with meteor viewing.”

After Sunday, the moon will diminish to a crescent phase, continuing to wane in both phase and brightness and will become significantly less of a hindrance to viewers as well as rising progressively later in the night. It will be new on Aug. 5.

(The above is an excerpt. The whole article can be read at the link below)

http://m.csmonitor.com/Science/2013/0727/Perseid-meteor-shower-Coming-soon-to-a-sky-near-you?utm_source=Sailthru&utm_medium=email&utm_term=Science_final&utm_campaign=20130801_Newsletter%3AScience_Sailthru&cmpid=ema%3Anws%3AScience%2520Weekly%2520%2808%2F01%2F2013%29

[Nogallery]


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The Eyes Have It

Serenity Spell

An animal’s eyes have the power to speak a great language. ―Martin Buber

In preparation of an upcoming post on Black-crowned Night Herons, and in honor of Halloween, I give you the lovely and brilliant red and orange glowing pumpkin stares of these lovely wetland waders. I’m always captivated by birds’ eyes, but some are especially striking….

 

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Ground under Fukushima Unit 4 sinking, structure on verge of complete collapse

I am reblogging this only to add that it is important not to be caught up in fear. The situation at fukushima has been dire from day one, and there are thousands more like it all over the world from the Deepwater Horizon diaster that is STILL leaking in the Gulf of Mexico near where I live, to the ongoing purposeful disasters like the tar sands or the belo monte dam(and James Bay, and many other similar projects) BUT, and this is a really BIG butt;-)

Even tho these things are bad now, even tho the pollution and destruction often SEEM insurmountable and end of the world-giving up is not an option!

We have the ability to turn things around and heal our world but we have to keep going to do it. We cannot give in to fear or despair any more than we can give in to denial.

In the year 1860 about 150 years ago, no one could have foreseen the world we have now. The very idea of the internet would have been impossible to explain. Cell phones, microwaves, nuclear submarines(ok Jules Verne did predict this one;-) and more significantly a global culture of connected humans who care about one another and work together in spite of corporations and corrupt government officials who want to continue to play at wars.

We already have many of the solutions to these problems from bioremediation of pollution (there are microbes that EAT oil, and mycelium that uses it as fuel and makes edible mushrooms!) to biochar carbon sequestration in the soil that increases soil fertility while mitigating global warming. Radiation is scary to most people but there are living organisms that thrive on it, so it is very very likely that we CAN find a way to resolve this one too.

I’m not suggesting we continue polluting with abandon or give up efforts to change things, only that while we change we must retain our joy and belief in a positive future in order to co-create it.