Seeping Arctic methane has serious implications for Florida coastline: study

Jun 18, 2012
This is Jeff Chanton, the John W. Winchester Professor of Oceanography at Florida State University. Credit: Bill Lax/FSU Photo Services

All of the methane escaping into the atmosphere causes more melting ice, oceanographer Jeff Chanton says, which causes sea levels to rise and could affect coastal real estate values -- sooner rather than later.

The ancient reserves of seeping from the melting told Jeff Chanton and fellow researchers what they already knew: As the permafrost thaws, there is a release of methane, a powerful that causes warming.

The trick was figuring out how much, said Chanton, the John W. Winchester Professor of at Florida State University.

The four-member team — whose findings were published in the respected journal Nature Geoscience — documented a large number of gas seep sites in the Arctic where permafrost is thawing and glaciers receding (they found 77 previously undocumented seep sites, comprising 150,000 vents to the ). Until recently, the cryosphere (frozen soil and ice) has served to plug or block these vents. But thawing conditions have allowed the conduits to open, and deep geologic methane now escapes.

The team studied the link between natural gas seepage and the melting ice cap, using aerial photos and field data to figure out the number — and location — of seep holes.

So, here's the rub: The more the ice cap melts, the more methane is released into the atmosphere — and the more the climate warms.

Why should this matter to you?

People who live in coastal areas in Florida could be directly affected, said Chanton, who analyzed the methane and dated it to more than 40,000 years old.

All this seeping methane causes more , Chanton said, which causes sea levels to rise and could affect coastal real estate values — sooner rather than later.

How soon?

Possibly over the next 50 to 100 years, Chanton said.

"Methane is a very strong greenhouse gas that's grown three times faster than carbon dioxide since the industrial era," Chanton said. "As the Arctic warms, the ice caps melt and the fissures open, so methane escapes and causes more warming."

This phenomenon causes sea levels to rise, which is particularly problematic in Florida:

"Along the flat Florida coastline, a 1-foot rise in could cause anywhere from 10 to 100 feet of shoreline retreat — erosion," Chanton said. "For us here in Florida, this is really important because we can expect the coast to recede."

That beach house, he warned, might be in peril: "It may not be there for your grandchildren."

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More information: www.eurekalert.org/pub_release… abs/ngeo1480.html%22

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deatopmg
2.1 / 5 (22) Jun 18, 2012
"All of the methane escaping into the atmosphere causes more melting ice, oceanographer Jeff Chanton says, which causes sea levels to rise and could affect coastal real estate values -- sooner rather than later."

In spite of all the hand wringing, mights, coulds, maybes, distortions and data "adjustment" etc. there has been NO SIGNIFICANT sea level rise over the past century. This is just another GW religious alarmist seeking more rent money from all of us. It's time for GW church members to support their own through tithing.
Tangent2
2.9 / 5 (15) Jun 18, 2012

All of the methane escaping into the atmosphere causes more melting ice, oceanographer Jeff Chanton says, which causes sea levels to rise and could affect coastal real estate values..


Is that really the biggest issue at hand from the consequences of sea level rise? Property value? Good god, maybe we deserve to be wiped out since some people cannot wake up and realize there are more important things in life than money.
GSwift7
2.6 / 5 (13) Jun 18, 2012
Possibly over the next 50 to 100 years, Chanton said.


NOAA uses a minimum of 30 years to detect any change in MSL. It takes at least that long to average out natural variations. See thier FAQ page here for more details on why:

http://tidesandcu...shtml#q1

That beach house, he warned, might be in peril: "It may not be there for your grandchildren."


nonsense. The IPCC Fourth Assessment Report predicts that total global-average sea level rise from 1990 - 2100 will be 7 - 15 inches for low emission scenarios and 10 - 23 inches for high emission scenarios. More recent estimates have been downgraded from that though. The Fifth AR should have something more like 7-15 inches for the worst case scenario, according to papers I have read. Nobody in the US builds beach houses within 2 feet of high tide. Building codes prevent it.
custard
3.7 / 5 (12) Jun 18, 2012
"there has been NO SIGNIFICANT sea level rise over the past century."


What's your source? What do you consider significant? A rise of about 20cm over the last century has been well documented; the current satellite measurement is a rate of over 30cm/century. So it's already rising - these are measurements (from independent sources - tide gauges, satellites) not predictions. Estimates for the next century are that rates will double, triple or even more - you can ignore those if you like (but give reasons, please).

Those sorts of numbers mean serious consequences for the millions living within feet of current sea level.

The wikipedia article on "sea level rise" is thoroughly sourced. If you don't believe it's significantly rising, where is all the ice melt going?
custard
4.4 / 5 (7) Jun 18, 2012
Nobody in the US builds beach houses within 2 feet of high tide. Building codes prevent it.


It's not that the house is just inches above the waves, like some sort of swamped boat about to be submerged. (Although, there are houses below water level in some places; and the entire Maldives are an average of 4 feet above water level.) It's that the increased water level makes storm surges more severe. It also accelerates erosion - think of the Outer Banks, which IIRC are subsiding anyway.

I don't know what the building code is in North Carolina, but it's clearly not terribly sensible, since the houses there are often merely feet above the water. I know, as I've been there after a hurricane and seen the mess. Subsidised flood insurance doesn't help the issue.

GSwift7
1.9 / 5 (9) Jun 18, 2012
It's that the increased water level makes storm surges more severe. It also accelerates erosion - think of the Outer Banks, which IIRC are subsiding anyway


It is extremely common for storm surge to reach 10 to 15 feet. Katrina storm surge reached 25 feet. An extra two feet of sea level (IPCC WORST case scenario) only changes the storm surge by two feet. So, you are technically correct that it's worse, but the majority of coastal homes and businesses are already too low to escape a strong storm surge. An extra two feet isn't going to matter when the home would already be under water without the extra two feet.

As for erosion, that varies by local conditions. You mentioned the Outer Banks, North Carolina. In that case, human engineering and construction have more to do with coastal erosion than anything else. Even with two more feet of sea level (worst case), that won't change. Humans will still change the coast faster than nature.
LariAnn
1.7 / 5 (11) Jun 18, 2012
Even if the coastal areas are affected, the overall increase in temperature across the entire state of Florida will, IMHO, more than make up for it as nearly the whole state may become truly tropical and frost-free. Yay!
rubberman
2.7 / 5 (14) Jun 18, 2012
Even if the coastal areas are affected, the overall increase in temperature across the entire state of Florida will, IMHO, more than make up for it as nearly the whole state may become truly tropical and frost-free. Yay!


Yay?.....
You may want to research the effects of 15 inches of sea level rise globally...I doubt the cry from the affected people will be "YAY!"
GSwift7
2 / 5 (12) Jun 18, 2012
P.S.

Since the Maldives are only 4 feet above sea level, what do you think happens when even a moderate tropical storm can create a storm surge higher than 4 feet? Do you really hear the BS you are being sold? Think about it....
GSwift7
2.2 / 5 (11) Jun 18, 2012
You may want to research the effects of 15 inches of sea level rise globally...I doubt the cry from the affected people will be "YAY!"


I appreciate that you used the median estimate in stead of the most extreme, but even the most extreme would not be catastrophic. The thing to remember is the time frame. It's not as though people will wake up one day and find water in their yard. People already deal with local changes in sea level on much shorter time scales than 100 years. Look at almost any major coastal city for an example. Cities tend to cause land subsidence at a rate faster than 15 inches per century. As an extreme example, the city of New Orleans experiences subsidence on the order of ten times that rate, though it is variable. People are able to cope with sea level change much faster than sea level can change, even if the IPCC worst case is multiplied several times over. Talk about castrophe is nothing but fearmongering and is nonsensical.
rubberman
3.3 / 5 (14) Jun 18, 2012
You are correct GS7. 15 inches wouldn't be classified as catastophic and over 100 years can be adapted to by most. That type of sea level rise poses more of a concern with regards to salt water inundation into areas such as river deltas and water supplies, more than coastal erosion.

No single arena of climate change threatens global catastrophe, however the effects of all the possible symptoms of climate change when compounded are enough to warrant proceeding with extreme caution....not cheering YAY because of one potentially positive aspect of one result of a warming world.
draa
3.4 / 5 (10) Jun 18, 2012
Even if the coastal areas are affected, the overall increase in temperature across the entire state of Florida will, IMHO, more than make up for it as nearly the whole state may become truly tropical and frost-free. Yay!


I live in Florida and I'm NOT getting a kick out of you. I have already seen sea-level changes in the lst 2 decades. Areas where we have camped and spent many nights fishing as childern are already underwater. What's sad is that so many denires think that we'll be saying "Yay" as we watch our lives wash away into the waves. Sad indeed.
GSwift7
2.2 / 5 (10) Jun 18, 2012
to Rubberman:

I agree with all of that.

I would also like to emphasize the danger of salt water intrusion, as it is more than just a problem due to sea level rise. Relatively short intrusions of salt water due to extended coastal droughts can have devastating results that last years longer than the drought. Also, any coastal area with high ground water use risks even more sever and longer lasting salt water intrusion than that caused by droughts. That can be urban use, such as around Boston and Miami, or agricultural use such as with Florida fruit growers near the coast.

Draa:

The coastal inundation you're seeing in Florida is mostly due to land subsidence. It's happening from Texas to Florida, and it is due to a combination of natural geological movement and manmade subsidence from ground water consumption and oil/gas drilling. I looked it up on the NOAA/NCDC web site, and they specifically say that it's mostly geological, but I would guess that it's difficult to quantify.
GSwift7
1.9 / 5 (8) Jun 18, 2012
quoting myself for trivia purposes:

Relatively short intrusions of salt water due to extended coastal droughts can have devastating results that last years longer than the drought


One of the first settlements in South Carolina mysteriously disappeared. Until recently, nobody knew why, though the site of their last village is known and has been studied. The recent revelation seems to indicate that salt water may have intruded many miles up the river due to extreme drought. The combination of poisoned water supply and failed crops from drought may have been the final straw for people who already struggled to survive. That's the latest theory anyway.
Parsec
5 / 5 (1) Jun 18, 2012
...People already deal with local changes in sea level on much shorter time scales than 100 years. Look at almost any major coastal city for an example. Cities tend to cause land subsidence at a rate faster than 15 inches per century. As an extreme example, the city of New Orleans experiences subsidence on the order of ten times that rate, though it is variable. People are able to cope with sea level change much faster than sea level can change, even if the IPCC worst case is multiplied several times over. Talk about castrophe is nothing but fearmongering and is nonsensical.

The most devastation will be those parts of the world where rising seal levels aren't so easily compensated for.
NotParker
1.7 / 5 (12) Jun 18, 2012
Even if the coastal areas are affected, the overall increase in temperature across the entire state of Florida will, IMHO, more than make up for it as nearly the whole state may become truly tropical and frost-free. Yay!


Winter Kills. Warmth saves lives.

"DeschĂȘnes and Moretti (2009) paper which estimates that migration from the Colder Northeast to Southern areas of the U.S.is responsible for 8%-15% of the total gains in life expectancy in the U.S. population from 1970 to 2000."

http://www.nipccr...1a3.html

NotParker
1.7 / 5 (11) Jun 18, 2012
Even if the coastal areas are affected, the overall increase in temperature across the entire state of Florida will, IMHO, more than make up for it as nearly the whole state may become truly tropical and frost-free. Yay!


I live in Florida and I'm NOT getting a kick out of you. I have already seen sea-level changes in the lst 2 decades. Areas where we have camped and spent many nights fishing as childern are already underwater. What's sad is that so many denires think that we'll be saying "Yay" as we watch our lives wash away into the waves. Sad indeed.


People are pulling water out the land causing it to sink:

"the long-term average rate of subsidence is generally considered to have been between 1 and 1.2 inches per year (Stephens "

http://sofia.usgs...ar/1182/

Thats 100 - 120 inches per century.

8 - 10 feet per century.
Caliban
5 / 5 (3) Jun 18, 2012

It is extremely common for storm surge to reach 10 to 15 feet. Katrina storm surge reached 25 feet. An extra two feet of sea level (IPCC WORST case scenario) only changes the storm surge by two feet. So, you are technically correct that it's worse, but the majority of coastal homes and businesses are already too low to escape a strong storm surge. An extra two feet isn't going to matter when the home would already be under water without the extra two feet.


So by this statement, you mean to say that the only changed variable in the system is sea level? What about added heat in the atmosphere? One supposes that you don't think that this will have any effect upon the power of a storm, or the amount of rainfall that would accompany it...

Your 25 ft maximum storm surge will be exceeded by even higher surges and become a thing of the past, along with all of the inundated landmass.

NotParker
1.4 / 5 (10) Jun 19, 2012


Your 25 ft maximum storm surge will be exceeded by even higher surges and become a thing of the past, along with all of the inundated landmass.



Tide gauges show a deceleration in sea level rise.
GSwift7
1.2 / 5 (6) Jun 19, 2012
to Caliban:

What about added heat in the atmosphere? One supposes that you don't think that this will have any effect upon the power of a storm, or the amount of rainfall that would accompany it..


That's a good question to ask, though the answer isn't simple. If you google it, there's a page on the NOAA site that talks about that topic. They say that there hasn't been a detectable change in storms yet, but models predict an increase in the intensity of the strongest storms along with a decrease in frequency of those storms (globally). They also note that climate models do not do a very good job with hurricanes though, and the confidence in that output from climate models is not strong. They also note that the prediction is a global average, but regional changes might go both up and down, depending on where you are looking.

Until about 15 years ago, it looked like storms were increasing, but that suddenly went the other way more recently. Who knows?
3432682
1.6 / 5 (9) Jun 19, 2012
Methane, in a test tube, is a powerful greenhouse gas. However, Earth has not warmed since 1998, a temperature spike year. Despite the increase in CO2 and methane, the heating effect is missing. The AGW theory is a failure - that increased CO2 will trigger warming, which will cause more water vapor, which will cause yet more warming. Nice theory, but Earth not warming. The theory that methane causes more warming is a failure too.

For perspective, 90% of the last 700k years has been ice age, a series of them. 80% of the time since the last ice age was warmer than today. To say current temperatures are unprecedented is false. Global warming is a false alarm.
rubberman
2 / 5 (8) Jun 20, 2012
Numerical digits needs to go back to high school physics, and perhaps actually research AGW theory, although he did make ONE accurate statement....that methane is a powerful GHG. It doesn't matter where it is located, it is still a powerful GHG.
GSwift7
2.1 / 5 (8) Jun 20, 2012
3432682:

However, Earth has not warmed since 1998, a temperature spike year. Despite the increase in CO2 and methane, the heating effect is missing. The AGW theory is a failure


Although I'm not a big fan of alarmist nonsense, I'm also not a big fan of nonsense from the other extreme either.

To say that the Earth hasn't warmed since 1998 is silly. It could very well still be warming, while natural variability temporarily hides the warming. You need longer periods of time before the trend has any meaning. Even if the warming has stalled, that still means that it has stayed much warmer than average since 1998. It certainly hasn't cooled.

I would hardly say that AGW theory is a failure, though it's hard to say exactly what AGW theory is these days. There are as many different versions of AGW theory as there are different versions of Christianity. The most extreme versions are usually discarded by the mainstream in both cases anyway.
NotParker
1.4 / 5 (10) Jun 20, 2012
3432682:

However, Earth has not warmed since 1998, a temperature spike year. Despite the increase in CO2 and methane, the heating effect is missing. The AGW theory is a failure


Although I'm not a big fan of alarmist nonsense, I'm also not a big fan of nonsense from the other extreme either.

To say that the Earth hasn't warmed since 1998 is silly. It could very well still be warming, while natural variability temporarily hides the warming. You need longer periods of time before the trend has any meaning. Even if the warming has stalled, that still means that it has stayed much warmer than average since 1998. It certainly hasn't cooled.


You can't say that. The Global Average Temperature is an artificial construct, heavily manipulated.

Parts of the earth have cooled. My region, for example, of 1,000,000 sq km has cooled.

The last 5 years are .8C colder than the previous 5 years and are exactly as warm as the 5 year period around 1960.

NotParker
1.4 / 5 (10) Jun 20, 2012
It certainly hasn't cooled.


The oceans have cooled.

http://www.woodfo...04/trend

USA: 2008 to 2011 are all colder than every year 1998 to 2002.

http://www.ncdc.n.../na.html

rubberman
2.5 / 5 (8) Jun 20, 2012
It certainly hasn't cooled.


The oceans have cooled.

http://www.woodfo...04/trend



The term I read more often when referring to SST's is stabilized. Prior to 2003 annual sea level rise was 3mm, with half of that due to thermal expansion. Since 2003, they have continued to rise @ 2.5 mm per year with none of this attributable to thermal expansion. Since we are coming out of a La Nina and transitioning to neutral or possibly an El Nino event, We can revisit the SST graph at the end of 2013 and see what it looks like. Probably similar to your link around the 1998/99 portion. Ironically this also explains your second point.The 2.5 mm has been attributed to increased glacial mass loss ending up in the ocean.

http://arstechnic...e-warms/

FYI there is too much natural variability in 3 year data sets to use as proof of anything.

NotParker
1.4 / 5 (10) Jun 20, 2012
Sea Level rise is decelerating based on tide gauges. Satellite data has had bogus adjustments.

http://www.theaus...99350056

http://www.jcronl...-00157.1
Howhot
3 / 5 (2) Jun 21, 2012
Methane, in a test tube, is a powerful greenhouse gas. However, Earth has not warmed since 1998, a temperature spike year. Despite the increase in CO2 and methane, the heating effect is missing. The AGW theory is a failure -

What a goober. Your falling all over yourself trying to spit that out too? Aren't you?
The oceans have cooled.

What a bonehead. You can not have a stupid idea that stupid, but you've managed to do it.

GSwift7
1 / 5 (4) Jun 25, 2012
To NotParker:

You must know that what you're talking about isn't statistically significant in the long term global trends. Sea level trends happen on even longer time scales than atmospheric trends. I don't remember off the top of my head what the generally accepted minimum time threshold is for ocean temp/sea level rise (they are equivalent measures), but it's longer than the 30 years needed for air temp and rainfall. 5, 10 and 15 year variability in ocean data is nothing. You're making a mountain out of an ant hill.

On the other hand, as for sea level rise and what it means for Florida: There are several other factors affecting Florida (mostly man-made) at rates much more alarming than global sea level rise. Even if you double the rate of expected sea level rise, sea level is nothing compared to the other problems Florida has been dealing with over the past century. There's been human caused subsidence of more than 10 feet in just over 50 years.

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