Tuesday, September 30, 2008

The other meltdown

The ongoing financial crisis may be causing some distress, but it's reallyt nothing -- a bunch of financial fictions suddenly being exposed as worthless, what a surprise -- compared to the melting of permafrost, leading perhaps to a runaway release of methane, a greenhouse gas 20 times more potent that CO2.

The Independent has been passed details of preliminary findings suggesting that massive deposits of sub-sea methane are bubbling to the surface as the Arctic region becomes warmer and its ice retreats...

Methane is about 20 times more powerful as a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide and many scientists fear that its release could accelerate global warming in a giant positive feedback where more atmospheric methane causes higher temperatures, leading to further permafrost melting and the release of yet more methane.

And moreL:

Yesterday, researchers on board the British research ship the James Clark Ross said they had counted about 250 methane plumes bubbling from the seabed in an area of about 30 square miles in water less than 400 metres (1,300 feet) deep off the west coast of Svalbard. They have also discovered a set of deeper plumes at depths of about 1,200 metres at a second site near by. Analysis of sediments and seawater has confirmed the rising gas is methane, said Professor Graham Westbrook of Birmingham University, the study's principal investigator.

Even more scary take, with proposed solutions:

Oy, a methane clathrate melt is surmised to have caused the biggest mass extinction event in Earth's history.

Some (mild) skepticism.

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