Thursday, March 4, 2010

Undersea methane release near Siberia may be underway, greatly accelerating global warming

Natalia Shakhova, a scientist at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks, is publishing a study reporting that methane may be starting to vent from permafrost undersea near the East Siberian Arctic Shelf, west of Alaska. Methane is much more effective as a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide, and there is concern that it could set up a destructive feedback loop od global warming.

The New York Times story March 4 is by Cornelia Dean, title “Study says that undersea release of methane is underway”. The History Channel had a megadisaster report on this possibility back in 2007. (See my “Films on Major Challenges” blog, Oct. 9, 2007, “Methane Explosion”).

The Science report is by Martin Heimann, “How Stable Is the Methane Cycle?”, link here, March 2010. Methane is stored undersea "frozen" in hydrate form.

Wikipedia attribution link for map of methane concentration. Note the higher concentrations in the arctic.

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