Researchers find significant amount of methane escaping East Siberian Arctic Shelf

Nov 25, 2013 by Bob Yirka report
Main bathymetric features of the Arctic Ocean, taken mainly from Weber 1983 'Maps of the Arctic Basin Sea Floor: A History of Bathymetry and its Interpretation' on a base of a screenshot taken from the Nasa WorldWind software. Credit: Mikenorton / Wikipedia

(Phys.org) —A combined team of U.S. and Russian researchers has found that large amounts of methane are bubbling up from the subsea permafrost along the East Siberian Shelf. In their paper published in the journal Nature Geoscience, the team describes research they've conducted over several years from fishing vessels in the Laptev Sea and other areas along the shelf along with the results of measurements they've made.

North of Russia lies the Arctic Ocean, over time, parts of it have been given different names—one of those the Laptev Sea, lies north of Siberia, and is bounded by peninsulas on both sides. The sea normally freezes in the winter and thaws in the summer, but the water remains so cold that the seafloor has, at least until recent years, remained frozen. The researchers in this latest effort have been monitoring the amount of methane released into the sea as the subsea permafrost melts in the summer.

The melting of the subsea permafrost in the Arctic Ocean can't be blamed on modern humans—it's been slowly warming down there for thousands of years—it's just recently however, reached the point where it melts in the summer just enough to allow the methane in it to seep out and bubble up into the sea column above. The researchers have been seeing record levels of methane in the both seawater and permafrost core samples they've been collecting over the past several years (they also use sonar to measure the density of bubbles emanating into the seawater). Worse, they have found that methane levels drop dramatically during storms. This means, the researchers report, that all that methane in the seawater is whipped into the atmosphere, adding to the other greenhouse gasses that are contributing to global warming.

The researchers note that their measurements contradict predictions by others that a massive "pulse" of methane will very soon add as much as 50 billion tonnes of methane to the atmosphere, causing a dramatic spike in global air temperatures. Instead, they suggest, it appears more likely that the methane will continue to bubble up slowly, contributing to greenhouse gases much as is happening currently—though they do caution that its possible could cause more or bigger storms in the Arctic Ocean, releasing on a bigger scale.

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


Explore further: Global warming in the Canadian Arctic

More information: Ebullition and storm-induced methane release from the East Siberian Arctic Shelf, Nature Geoscience (2013) DOI: 10.1038/ngeo2007

Abstract
Vast quantities of carbon are stored in shallow Arctic reservoirs, such as submarine and terrestrial permafrost. Submarine permafrost on the East Siberian Arctic Shelf started warming in the early Holocene, several thousand years ago. However, the present state of the permafrost in this region is uncertain. Here, we present data on the temperature of submarine permafrost on the East Siberian Arctic Shelf using measurements collected from a sediment core, together with sonar-derived observations of bubble flux and measurements of seawater methane levels taken from the same region. The temperature of the sediment core ranged from −1.8 to 0 °C. Although the surface layer exhibited the lowest temperatures, it was entirely unfrozen, owing to significant concentrations of salt. On the basis of the sonar data, we estimate that bubbles escaping the partially thawed permafrost inject 100–630 mg methane m−2 d−1 into the overlying water column. We further show that water-column methane levels had dropped significantly following the passage of two storms. We suggest that significant quantities of methane are escaping the East Siberian Shelf as a result of the degradation of submarine permafrost over thousands of years. We suggest that bubbles and storms facilitate the flux of this methane to the overlying ocean and atmosphere, respectively.

Press release

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User comments : 10

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ForFreeMinds
1.3 / 5 (16) Nov 25, 2013
More evidence that current computer climate models, miss too much to model the climate with any accuracy.
ForFreeMinds
1.3 / 5 (16) Nov 25, 2013
More evidence that current computer climate models, miss too much to model the climate with any accuracy.
runrig
4.3 / 5 (6) Nov 25, 2013
More evidence that current computer climate models, miss too much to model the climate with any accuracy.


Yes, in this case the models would have undershot warming. A positive feedback as the majority are.
VendicarE
4.2 / 5 (5) Nov 26, 2013

"The melting of the subsea permafrost in the Arctic Ocean can't be blamed on modern humans—it's been slowly warming down there for thousands of years" - Article

FreeMinds shouldn't be so free that they direct their mouths to produce nonsense.

QuixoteJ
1.4 / 5 (11) Nov 26, 2013
"The melting of the subsea permafrost in the Arctic Ocean can't be blamed on modern humans—it's been slowly warming down there for thousands of years" - Article

FreeMinds shouldn't be so free that they direct their mouths to produce nonsense.
Are you calling the quote from the article nonsense, or are you saying what ForFreeMinds said is nonsense? I think both make valid points.
goracle
2.6 / 5 (10) Nov 27, 2013
More evidence that current computer climate models, miss too much to model the climate with any accuracy.

If your model of Submit button behaviour was more accurate, that might not have been the second of two identical posts.
ryggesogn2
1.4 / 5 (9) Nov 27, 2013
The model projecting the orbits of the thousands of satellites must constantly be revised if anyone wants to really know where in space those satellites are.
Of course the equations are quite well known, but what is not and cannot be known is ALL the forces acting on a satellite at any infinitesimal period of time.
The errors accumulate requiring continuous updates.
In climate models, not all the equations are known, and of the known equations, the values of the variables are quite uncertain, yet 'the consensus' claims to predict the temperature of the earth 100 years from now.
VendicarE
5 / 5 (2) Nov 28, 2013
"In climate models, not all the equations are known, and of the known equations, the values of the variables are quite uncertain, yet 'the consensus' claims to predict the temperature of the earth 100 years from now." - RyggTard

RyggTard draws an adequate analogy between the sensitivity to initial conditions in the prediction of satellite positions and the sensitivity to initial conditions in weather forecasting.

Unfortunately, TardieBoy doesn't have sufficient intellectual horsepower to actually follow his analogy to the conclusion. He jumps off the horse just before reaching the finish line. In addition he can't think far enough to see how his own analogy shows why his own denialist nonsense is nonsense.

In his analogy, the end goal of satellite modeling is predicting the position of the satellite.

But that is not the goal of any individual climate model run. Sensitivity to initial conditions is well known by scientist to be a factor in climate modeling, CONT...
VendicarE
5 / 5 (1) Nov 28, 2013
So climate models are run multiple times, with varying initial states, to produce a statistical set of results that is used to deduce the probable state of the environment as well as a statistical error in the modeling.

The result of a calculation to find the position of a satellite is a distinct position and an error in the initial parameters carried through the calculations as a series of simple differential calculations.

In the case of a climate model the result is a statistical distribution of values, each of which carries it's own error term.

So TardieBoy rides the analogy train right up to the finish line and then gets off just before it reaches it's destination the statistical distribution train platform.

It isn't as if he hasn't been told this a dozen times or so over the last several years.

He is simply incapable of learning due to his willful ignorance.
VendicarE
5 / 5 (1) Nov 28, 2013
Now if TardieBoy weren't so willfully ignorant, he would also realize why the statistical nature of the output of climate models and of science in general makes his often demanded policy of, proof before action, childishly naive, because as he clearly admits, even the simple act of predicting a satellite position years in advance is not a practical possibility.

So he should know that his demand of proof before action is really a demand for no action since absolute proof is impossible.

Statistical proof is not impossible however, and statistical proof has clearly been demonstrated by climate models and climate scientists for decades now.

RyggTard is what you get when non-thinkers get the notion that they have the capacity to think for themselves - even though they spend all of their days regurgitating the nonsenese fed to them by congenital liars, and paid industry shills.