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Unforced Variations: July 2013

Filed under: — group @ 1 July 2013

This month’s open thread…

We have just updated the blog software, and are taking a little time to assess how up-to-date some the content is (including the theme, mobile theme, blogroll, about pages and the RC wiki etc.). So this might be a good time to chime in with your suggestions as well as discussing the latest climate science issues.

350 Responses to “Unforced Variations: July 2013”

  1. 251
    SRJ says:

    Simple question:

    IPCC says that the net antropogenic forcing from 1750-2005 is 1.6 W/m^2.

    Is it correct use this value to calculate the total accumulated energy of antropogen origin, in the following manner:

    E = time * area * forcing

    time = no. of seconds in 255 years, 8047016130 s
    area = surface area of the troposphere (IPCC says that the forcing is related to the tropopause), 5.12 m^2

    The result is 6.59 * 10^24 J. So this the amount of energy that antropogenic forcings have helped trap in the climate system?
    Is that correct?

  2. 252
    Hank Roberts says:

    for SRJ:
    Asserting there’s a simple answer to that simple question of yours looks like it is a great way to start a controversy. Read up on some of those results.

  3. 253
    Susan Anderson says:

    Climate Science Legal Defense Fund IS supporting Mike Mann, among others.

    Want to Help Our Climate Scientists? It’s Simple: Here’s How

    …. To continue our programing through the end of the year we need to raise $35,000 this summer and need your help to reach our goal. The money will go to two projects of ours. First, it will retire the debt owed by Dr. Michael Mann for attorney’s fees in the FOIA case over his UVA emails. Read more about the case here and here.

    The money will also go towards continuing our program of sending attorneys to scientific meetings. There we offer confidential pro-bono meetings for members of the scientific community.

    links here.

    PBS Newshour had a segment on climate denial and funding tonight, about 6:40, which appeared to be linked to Frontline. Links not available yet. Looked good, mentioned Heartland, AFP, Kochs, Donor’s Trust.

  4. 254
    Susan Anderson says:

    correction: Professor Mandia says CSLDF is not involved in the CEI case.

  5. 255
    Patrick 027 says:

    Re 251 SRJ – that’s on the right track, but by itself implies infinite climate sensitivity or infinite heat capacity. As climate approaches a new equilibrium, the general increase in surface+tropospheric temperatures increases the outgoing longwave radiation (OLR), reducing the rate of net gain in energy – this approaches zero eventually (with net positive feedbacks – for shortwave feedbacks (eg loss of snow and ice), OLR has to increase that much more; via net positive longwave feedbacks (eg water vapor, lapse rate feedback* (*the later is globally negative but smaller)), the OLR becomes less sensitive to temperature change and so rises less quickly in response to heating.

    The total accumulated additional energy (specifically, enthalpy) should be equal to forcing * climate sensitivity * heat capacity; for the later, it depends on timescale – much of the ocean is not in play over short periods, so after an initial approach to equilibrium, there would be a longer lasting delay over which greater amounts of heat capacity become important and so energy continues to accumulate, but more slowly (slowing more than if it were a simply exponential decay (if climate sensitivity and heat capacity were nice simple constants (well mixed ocean, no non-Charney feedbacks) the disequilibrium would decay exponentially for any constant forcing. Of course, with AGW or in many other situations forcing is added or removed over time, so the effect could be thought of as a linear superposition of exponential decays following many small steps in forcing).

    Over very long time periods the temperature signal would diffuse downward over the crust, etc (reduction in crustal temperature gradient would slow geothermal heat flux out, having a heating effect below), but at some point it becomes relatively unimportant to climate change to include deeper layers’ heat capacity.

  6. 256
    Patrick 027 says:

    The total accumulated additional energy (specifically, enthalpy) should be equal to forcing * climate sensitivity * heat capacity – at equilibrium.

  7. 257
    David B. Benson says:

    Cost of Arctic Methane Release Could Be ‘Size of Global Economy’, Experts Warn
    Is there a futures market for this?

  8. 258
    Hank Roberts says:

    > Arctic methane release

    I recommend reading Stoat on the subject.

  9. 259
    Steve Fish says:

    Re- Comment by David B. Benson — 25 Jul 2013 @ 12:21 AM

    The article is about economic predictions, is there any actual science in it?


  10. 260
    Hank Roberts says:

    “… This “Nebula Winter” model can explain the catastrophic phenomena such as snowball Earth events, repeated mass extinctions, and Cambrian explosion of biodiversities which took place in the late Proterozoic era through the Cambrian period…. Mass extinctions occurred at least eight times in this period, synchronized with large fluctuations in δ13C of carbonates in the sediment. Each event is likely to correspond to each nebula encounter. In other words, the late Neoproterozoic snowball Earth and Cambrian explosion are possibly driven by a starburst, which took place around 0.6 Ga in the Milky Way Galaxy. The evidences for a Nebula Winter can be obtained from geological records in sediment in the deep oceans at those times.”

    Evidence, if any, would turn up in cores from the ocean drilling projects.

  11. 261
    Susan Anderson says:

    fwiw, PBS “Climate of Doubt” was a rerun from 10/23/12 and ran on Nova. Link:

    It shows the scale of the effort to create a phony parallel universe, very troubling. But please don’t follow my lead, rather stick to science here, with all your invaluable work.

  12. 262
    Martin Vermeer says:

    SRJ #251,

    as nobody seems to give you a helpful answer, let me try.

    The 1.6 W/m^2 net forcing for 1750-2005 gives how much the heat balance of the top of the atmosphere (TOA) was out of whack in the year 2005, assuming it was in equilibrium in 1750 (or more generally, in recent pre-industrial times).

    In order to do the computation you want to do, you need to integrate, not multiply. You need the net forcing for every year 1750-2005, each relative to pre-industrial, integrate this over time and multiply with the surface area of TOA.

    When you do that, you will find that the net forcing has only been significantly different from zero over the last century or so, and you could probably approximate its integral by half the product of 1.6 W/m^2 and 40 years (i.e., the forcing hase gone up linearly from zero to 1.6 W/m^2 over the last 40 years). Which will give you only about 8% of the value you computed.

    Compare with this, which shows that something close to your computed value would suffice to heat all of the atmosphere and oceans by one degree C. Well, the climate has warmed by about that, but obviously the warming hasn’t had time to affect the bulk of the deep ocean yet. This gives me confidence that your proposed method is too large by about an order of magnitude, and mine more nearly correct.

  13. 263

    #259–Judge for yourself:

    Supplementary info section (linked at bottom of article) will be helpful.

  14. 264
    Chris Korda says:

    US EIA released International Energy Outlook 2013 today. This table is the one that matters most (to me):
    World carbon dioxide emissions by region, Reference case, 2009-2040
    You may remember an extended discussion here regarding IEO2011’s projection of an additional teraton of CO2 emissions between 2009 and 2035. Here it is two years later and we’re still right on track, with that same trajectory extended to 2040 and no end in sight. That means we’re still following AR5’s RCP8.5 scenario, as shown here. The resulting temperature curve would likely be at least the red line shown here, and very possibly the yellow line (though they both arrive at the same place eventually), assuming correct application of the Climate Response Functions described in Hansen et al.’s “Earth’s energy imbalance and implications” as explained here. Which would mean goodbye to all that, of course. But I gotta get back to napping and playing with my toys!

  15. 265
    prokaryotes says:

    Coastal Antarctic Permafrost Melting Faster Than Expected

    For the first time, scientists have documented an acceleration in the melt rate of permafrost, or ground ice, in a section of Antarctica where the ice had been considered stable

  16. 266
    Chris Korda says:

    @262, meant “*green* line shown here, and very possibly the *red* line; apologies for the typo.

  17. 267
    Susan Anderson says:

    ClimateCrocks picks up on this sad artifact of the Rolling Stone cover controversy. So much work buried; Jason Box deserves better.

  18. 268
    Hank Roberts says:

    > prokaryotes

    Thank you for the link for

    Fact. The got pictures. Clear timelapse imagery (real pictures — generated from LIDAR, ‘laser radar’ — using infrared light) — watch the cliff of permafrost melting.

    They say the rate is speeding up.
    Reality is plenty damn scary.

    I hope Vonnegut et al. are wrong about us being too cheap and too lazy.

  19. 269
    Hank Roberts says:

    PS, look carefully at that animation, it’s easy to see it backward. The taller cliffs are in the later images; the lower front cliff entirely melts away. Watch the cliff at the far left end through the sequence to feel it.

  20. 270
    prokaryotes says:

    Hank Roberts, from your link: “the game may be over”, i don’t share this fatalistic sentiment. I think it will be just like Isaac Asimov had thought in his novels, that humans have to expand their horizon. Maybe this has to happen, to make us live in balance with the environment and reach for the stars. Ofc, if we keep sleep walking and keep driving fossil fuel burn – we will eventually go extinct.

  21. 271
    prokaryotes says:

    Arctic Heat Wave Re-Intensifies Over Central Siberia Setting off Rash of Tundra Fires

    We’re having some methane feedback in the Arctic and it’s a part of polar amplification. That said, it is important to note that this feedback is not a runaway feedback at this time. In total, we’re probably seeing about a 10-15 megaton methane emission from the Arctic each year (comparing to a 40 megaton global emission, including humans). The Arctic emission could double or even triple over the coming years and decades. And this is a pretty serious amplifying feedback. To get a runaway, though, we’d need about 500 MT to 1 GT annual average emission. And we’re not seeing that yet (hope to never see it).

    NASA’s CARVE study will likely provide more detail. But my opinion is that the methane feedback and other global responses to human emissions will be enough to at least double the human forcing over long periods of time (perhaps more than double, as the human forcing is so fast). So it’s certainly trouble worth keeping an eye on.

    Loss of albedo and related greenhouse gas feedback in the Arctic is having the predicted amplifying effect. In addition, we’re in a period when the ocean gyres and atmospheric circulation are transferring more heat to the Arctic. This phase should last for another 5, 10, or 15 years. When it switches back, overall atmospheric warming will intensify and polar amplification may slow down a little.

    So in answer to your question, we’re already seeing the first impacts of increased polar methane release. But these are the early, outlier events. And, yes, the extra methane does have a local warming effect on the Arctic environment.

  22. 272
  23. 273
    Hank Roberts says:

    yeah, but do you think that’s a reliable source? Why?

  24. 274
    Robert Marston says:

    Cheers guys, pro linked my blog and I wanted to qualify a few points.

    First, the emissions I noted were net positive, not total. Sorry if that wasn’t clear but the issue with methane is very complex.

    The total human emission is a staggering 500+ megatons per year. The total Earth Systems emission is about 150 megatons per year. Now reaction with OH in the troposphere and stratosphere and reaction with O2 in soils breaks the lion’s share of this proportionate methane down, as due to these reactions methane has a total atmospheric lifetime of only 8.4 years.

    The remaining net positive emission is enough to push atmospheric levels up by about 4 ppb each year. You can take a look at the history of world methane levels at the NASA ESRL site by loading the carbon gases time series for methane.

    Now, my info on Arctic methane emission, in total, is only via extrapolation and meta analysis. There is no total annual emissions monitor for that region or for any region currently. That said, it is the largest single region source of natural emissions and probably accounts for 10 to 20 percent of all natural emissions (maybe more in recent years). We did have one study that showed the region of the East Siberian Arctic Shelf emitted 14 megatons in one year. So, at this point, we could be closer to 30, 40, or 50 mt for the entire Arctic. CARVE, hopefully, will bring these totals into better resolution.

    What we do know is that we have not seen a major spike in total atmospheric methane levels. And that would be the clear signal that the Arctic is starting to really go haywire. Instead, we’ve had a steady rate of increase of about 4 ppb each year. In a runaway event of the kind Wadhams describes, we would see a 100 ppb or more annual atmospheric increase for the entire globe. And that would take a pulse large enough to overwhelm the OH sink — probably in the range of 500 mt to 1 gt or more per year. Now Wadhams and Sharakova warn of the potential for a 50 gt single year event in the East Siberian Arctic Shelf. Sharakova’s statement is qualified, Wadhams is less sanguine. That said, almost all other researchers note that such an event is highly unlikely, with releases likely to happen over the 1,000 year time scale or longer. My opinion is that Wadhams is probably too aggressive and that these other researchers are too conservative. In short, the extra heating from human warming will probably liberate all the ESAS methane but, in the worst case, on the decades scale. Each warmer year will thaw more and more. The sea ice will cover less and less of the time, providing less insulation, until the system breaks out in multiple releases. The Arctic night and Greenland negative feedback response will probably be enough to shut the pulsing methane down on an annual and melt-pulse basis. Not hugely comforting — but it’s right there, built in.

    Last wrinkle and I’m done…

    The OH sink is an exhaustible resource. OH in the troposphere is created when UV light interacts with O2 and H2O or H2. The problem is that the rate of supply is nearly constant. So a very large addition to the current large methane emission could overwhelm the OH sink and greatly increase short term methane levels.

    Ozone depletion actually increases OH formation (a bad result for a marginally positive outcome).

    Ironically, humans vastly reducing methane emissions would provide a much greater cushion to potential catastrophic events by allowing the OH stocks to rejuvenate and requiring a much larger pulse to achieve runaway. Coal mining, gas mining, open air waste, and human consumption of meat would have to vastly decline for this to occur.

    My background — Emerging Threats. In other words, I spend a lot of time reading the science and weighing the risks.

    Pro is a great guy and extraordinarily smart. Definitely one worth listening to. Hope the clarification helps.

  25. 275
    prokaryotes says:

    Do you mean the WordPress blog? Imho, one of the best reporting out there. Try to address the content, not the fact that this is a private blog.

  26. 276
    patrick says:

    The source for the article posted @272 is reasonable. The Methane Tracker image in the article is excellent. Nothing wrong with Methane Tracker. Time to learn our (methane) ppb’s. Same high IASI readings have been noted elsewhere.


    Same blog reports this reasonably:

    Gotta love the Pole cam:

  27. 277
    Hank Roberts says:

    > My opinion … the extra heating from human warming
    > will probably liberate all the ESAS methane but, in
    > the worst case, on the decades scale….

    That’s an opinion. It’d be disastrous, no question there.

    Opinion ought to coexist with observed facts. It’s been warmer
    in the past without releasing methane from the same locations,
    several times. It was much warmer for several very long times.

    Why, in your opinion, is this time so very different?
    Have you any numbers, rate of change calculation for how fast
    heat moves through sediments, the stuff scientists use routinely?

    Scientists have opinions too. I’m wondering why the repeated
    posting so many places of this methane emergency argument keeps up.

  28. 278
  29. 279
    Hank Roberts says:

    On sea ice, Methane Tracker website says:

    “The Near Real-Time Sea Ice Concentration data layer … is built through an internally proprietary software written by us at, based on the parsing of experimental data originally processed and generated by the University of Bremen in Germany….”

    On methane, the same site says:

    “After fighting for three months from February to May 2013 trying to accurately pinpoint the source(s) of the huge methane venting episode in Antarctica, and thanks to the motivation, help and historic data provided by Apocalypse4Real and guidance from Dr. Leonid Yurganov, I decided to go ahead and write:
    A Parser that every day downloads all 100 layers from IASI and, pixel by pixel, extracts the color, of each graph.
    A Visualization Framework where the new extracted data is plotted, allowing for ease of use on multiple, diverse scenarios….”


    I recall others have used pixel colors, worked backward, and created numbers they then charted and graphed, but isn’t there a better way to get numbers?

  30. 280
    Hank Roberts says:

    Well, I’m going to leave this one for someone else to sort out, after finding this at MethaneTracker:

    I had an “argument” with a respected blogger about potential sources of methane for the huge Antarctic venting episode, and it was SO frustrating not being able to show one (1) evidence of the point I was trying to make that he won the argument by default, because his point represented the status quo and I had no evidence….
    —-end quote—-

    I tried for a while to find a cite for “the huge Antarctic venting episode” referred to there. No luck. Perhaps one of the real scientists knows.

  31. 281
    Hank Roberts says:

    —- quote—–
    Early Results

    The CARVE science team is busy analyzing data from its first full year of science flights. What they’re finding, Miller said, is both amazing and potentially troubling.

    “Some of the methane and carbon dioxide concentrations we’ve measured have been large, and we’re seeing very different patterns from what models suggest,” Miller said. “We saw large, regional-scale episodic bursts of higher-than-normal carbon dioxide and methane in interior Alaska and across the North Slope during the spring thaw, and they lasted until after the fall refreeze. To cite another example, in July 2012 we saw methane levels over swamps in the Innoko Wilderness that were 650 parts per billion higher than normal background levels. That’s similar to what you might find in a large city.”

    Ultimately, the scientists hope their observations will indicate whether an irreversible permafrost tipping point may be near at hand. While scientists don’t yet believe the Arctic has reached that tipping point, no one knows for sure. “We hope CARVE may be able to find that ‘smoking gun,’ if one exists,” Miller said.

    For more information on CARVE, visit:
    —–end quote—-

  32. 282
    prokaryotes says:

    There is also a video which explains MethanTracker data

    Part 1
    Part 2

  33. 283
    Hank Roberts says:

    and here’s “the huge Antarctic venting episode” documented:
    also reports many other things “scientists” won’t tell you about.

    Think about it.

    You want the denial-and-delay people to tell the truth, right?
    Report the science and cite to good sources people can check.

    Show them how it’s done.

  34. 284
    Susan Anderson says:

    More on the Siberian heat wave at the mouth of the Ob (on the way to the longest estuary anywhere, headed north (some of you have seen this already):

    Lots of data collected. Geography is really interesting.

    (RM: I think you meant Shakhova – you must have been thinking of the tennis player)

  35. 285
    prokaryotes says:

    Under the Ice: A closer look at recent Antarctica and Greenland Ice Melt


    Satellite radar altimetry since 2002 shows accelerated thinning (Amundsen Sea, Pine Island and Thwaites glacial ice streams)
    Laser altimetry shows thinning on 20 of 54 Antarctic ice shelves
    Ice shelves buttress their tributary glaciers, melt-induced thinning of the ice shelves drives a corresponding thinning and acceleration of the upstream glaciers
    Heat for basal melting occurs from wind-forced incursions of deeper and warmer water and from local surface waters warmed by summer sun
    Extensive melt-induced subglacial channels under Pine Island Glacier
    Bottom melt influences the structural integrity of the entire glacier
    Inland course and extent of, for example, troughs under Pine Island Glacier, follow tectonic rifts
    The rift systems, some of them sloping inward (landward), represent preferred routes for warm water penetration
    Basal melting has eroded and expanded a cavity under the Pine Island Ice Shelf, allowing more warm seawater (as warm as 4C) to access the underside
    Meltwater input to the surrounding ocean appears to have increased by 50% over a decade
    a newly discovered large subglacial basin deep in the interior of the Weddell Sea, under the present day Filchner Ice Shelf and its tributary glaciers
    Plausible redirection of warm coastal ocean currents into the Filchner trough beneath the Filcher-Ronneshelves As a consequence, basal melting increases by a factor of 20
    In general, a consistent picture emerges around Antarctica of ice and ice shelves responding rapidly via the ocean to changes in Southern Hemisphere wind pattern
    Patterns that themselves vary on timescales of years to decades in concert with global features such as El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO)


    Marine-terminating glaciers drain nearly 90% of the Greenland ice mass
    Under-ice motions (basal sliding) play a very large role in dynamics of ice sheet’s
    Vertical uplift, in excess of post glacial rebound, due to rapid crustal response to recent ice mass losses
    Uplift ‘pulses’ correlated with short-lived events such as seasonal surface melt anomalies
    Greenland Ice Sheet interacting extensively and rapidly with surrounding ocean (Fig.2) and overlying atmosphere

  36. 286
  37. 287
    Hank Roberts says:

    Yep, which you’ve cited to your climatestate, which cites the story to National Geo, which said last year:
    Jemma Wadham of the University of Bristol, England, and her colleagues have not actually detected methane-producing microbes under the Antarctic ice sheet. They haven’t detected methane either—though they are participating in drilling projects that could do so later this year. Yet a top journal has now published their analysis of the potential climate impact of those undiscovered microbes….”

    The top journal is Nature, but the link goes to their index page.

    You can, presumably, look this stuff up.

    Make it easy for your readers, eh? Seriously, it’s a what-if on a hypothetical on a could-be that asserts that what we all know is most likely true could be, er, happening. Except it isn’t. But it could be, couldn’t it?

    Yes, surely, if we wait long enough the evidence will begin bubbling up.

    But — there are much more urgent problems coming on sooner and if we attend to them we might not -get- to the methane meltdown. Isn’t that the whole idea?

    We all know lots of terrible things could well go wrong, if we go in the direction we’re headed until we get there. That would be stupid. Because so much else would have already gone to hell by that point that many other problems would befuddle us.
    meYvoid becaufe
    says reCaptcha.

    I think I’ve got to avoid more of this, because it makes me crazy.
    Carry on. I’m going back to work on making topsoil, it’s something I can do.

  38. 288
    Omar Cabrera says:

    @279 Yes, the other way is if you have permission to access the satellite feed and to publish the data. In that case, you access the data but while you can get a much better resolution, the way it’s served makes it almost impossible to store it in your own. You depend fully on the data availability on a server you don’t control, and the amount of data is so massive due to its detail that it limits the tools you can use to visualize it. Yes, you can show it in Google Earth, but after you’ve processed the data with matlab, and doing that process online, on the fly with terabytes of data isn’t feasible.

    On the other hand, consider that IASI’s is currently the only up-to-date public global methane data, so if you start your accruing process by interpolating from existing public imagery that is sitting in your server, it:
    a) makes it a lot easier to get permission to publish the data AND
    b) you can publish it without having to request access/permission on a per-research basis. Also,
    c) truth is that the interpolation’s margin of error is negligible for practical purposes (up to 6ppb error margin per pixel average, 80% of errors of +-2ppb) if you don’t mind how coarse the data is; and because of how coarse the data is
    d) you can store many years of data on “normal” servers.

    So, those are the reasons why we’re interpolating data.

    I’m still owing a lot of content Hank -sorry!-. New development has taken 100% of my time, but I think it’s worth it, if you check methanetracker again Monday afternoon there will be a great new functionality online. Anyhow, part of the half-written, not-yet-published content explains why methanetracker; and one of the many reasons why is to allow for the public methane data to be public AND useful (meaning, standardized so that the community can actually use it). Interpolating data this way gives us more flexibility to bring the real data to the general public almost real-time without detriment to its quality.

  39. 289
    Omar Cabrera says:

    @280 Sorry about that. I need to rewrite much of the content. As this first batch of content sits right now, many pages and articles were written for methane scientists and people that follow (and have been closely following) methane emissions. You know about it if you follow methane regularly, otherwise you won’t know because nobody reports it. I think this methane venting episode in Antarctica is huge and unprecedented, but what I think makes it newsworthy is that when you look at the source, it’s just a canary in a coal mine. I find it funny that while in my view this is one of the most important news we’ve had over the last 250 million years, nobody reports it or know about it. If I may suggest, I would start my reading here:

  40. 290

    #288–Alarming, but I can’t forbear a little proofing: “Wadham, and *her* colleagues?” Or is this a different ‘Wadham?’ Really, one should be able to tell from the article itself…

  41. 291
    sidd says:

    A long time ago, last year actually, Kidder and Worsley wrote in GSA today
    and very nice it was,too. But the timescale on Fig 5 was comfortable centuries, and I am lazy …

    I have finally got around to reading Kidder and Worsley 2004,2010
    and now i am alarmed. Exactly how long before something like the Med turns into sulfidic stew ? Any ocean chemists wanna comment ?


  42. 292
    Tony Weddle says:

    I recently came across this article by Ron Prinn , Professor of Atmospheric Science in MIT’s Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences. It confirms what I’ve read elsewhere, that, taking all atmospheric composition into account, the concentration of greenhouse gases is over 470 ppm of CO2 equivalent. As I understand it (and as mentioned in a recent article by Joe Romm, at Climate Progress), the CO2e concentration must be kept under 450 to have a chance of avoiding dangerous climate change, with a 2C temperature rise. Leaving aside the question of whether the dangerous limit is actually under 2C now, surely this means that dangerous climate change is now assured. Is that right?

    There is also the question of whether the factor for methane should be much greater than the 20-25 that normally gets used. Methane has returned to its increasing trend. That is, more methane is being released into the atmosphere than is breaking down each year. Consequently, when calculating CO2e, shouldn’t the higher short term strength of methane be used. That would take CO2e concentration to about double preindustrial times. Is it game over?

  43. 293

    #286 (NOT 288!) and my comment–You are apparently supposed to follow every link to make sense of the article…

    Turns out “Wadham” is Jemma Wadham, a typically ivory tower climate modeler who:

    While waiting for a drill that could take her there, Wadham has done her best with a chain saw. For years she has marched up to the leading edge of glaciers in Antarctica, Greenland, and Canada and sawed off cubic-foot (0.03 cubic-meter) blocks from the base of the ice—blocks that include sediments picked up by the glaciers as they advanced. Wadham shoves the blocks into sterile bags, stows them in trunks full of Styrofoam, cheerfully pays extreme excess baggage fees, and prays she and her cargo can make it to her sub-zero freezer in Bristol in 24 hours.

    In the lab she incubates small vials of melted ice and sediment for as long as two years, scrupulously avoiding contamination. The result: “Every glacier where we look,” she said, “we find microbes in the sediments beneath the ice”—including microbes that are producing methane, albeit at slow rates.

    Those measured rates are what Wadham and her colleagues used to estimate how much methane might have been produced on the scale of the Antarctic continent.

    It’s in a NatGeo article from last summer:

    On the climate state article, Dr. Yurganov–whose career is focused on remote sensing and specifically IR spectrography–seems to be suggesting that the supposed ‘venting’ of methane was an artifact:

    Antarctic methane? It is impossible for the Antarctic continent. AIRS receive radiation in IR, that is coming from the upper troposphere or even stratosphere in that region. It is unsensitive to the very cold surface of the ice dome.

    That was noted in the article, to be fair.

  44. 294
    prokaryotes says:

    Kevin McKinney said:” “Wadham” is Jemma Wadham, a typically ivory tower climate modeler”

    I do not agree with Kevin McKinney’s assertion and especially not so with the framing of a scientist here. There is nothing wrong with these modelling of potential methane hydrate formation beneath the Antarctic ice sheets. And this is part of the data you want to include when looking at potential Methane origin’s. If you want my further attention provide scientific proof that these models are wrong.

    Dr Sandra Arndt, a NERC fellow at the University of Bristol who conducted the numerical modelling, said: “It’s not surprising that you might expect to find significant amounts of methane hydrate trapped beneath the ice sheet. Just like in sub-seafloor sediments, it is cold and pressures are high which are important conditions for methane hydrate formation.”

    Further Kevin McKinney claims:”supposed ‘venting’ of methane was an artifact”. That’s not at all what he said, and month of methane concentration observation’s reveal.

  45. 295
    Hank Roberts says:

    > … modelling of potential methane hydrate … If you want my
    > further attention provide scientific proof that these models are wrong.

    Dr. W. was — in 2012 — participating in drilling that finished later sometime in 2012, according to the National Geographic article you cited.
    That could prove these models are wrong — or show evidence they’re right.

    So, catch us up here — what did Dr. W. find out from the drilling?
    Did you look for current information?

    I’d -bet- she’s right. It’s not a new idea. But that’s not evidence.

  46. 296
    prokaryotes says:

    Hank, why don’t you use google yourself? Other than that it is odd how you ignore the rest of the article findings, how come?

  47. 297
  48. 298
    patrick says:

    Why and what do you want to communicate? The two first questions offered to scientists by Gavin in his talk at the AGU Chapman Conference on Climate Science Communication are good questions to ask. They are helpful in any case.

    But it’s helpful to ask them from the other side, too, re: blogs and sites. I take them on their own terms–for their own purposes and for what they have to say. The fact that they are not primary sources is not a problem in itself. I give them credit for what they do, what they find, and how they put it together.

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    #194–Prok, that ‘ivory tower’ reference was pure irony–a gal who waltzes up to the glacier’s base with a chainsaw is hardly immured at all, let alone imprisoned in the stereotypical impervious ivory tower! I would have thought that was self-evident from the juxtaposition of the characterization and the article quote, but evidently I was wrong. Let me speak plainly, then: I admire Dr. J. Wadham’s spirit and dedication. (Her analysis may be stellar, too, for all I can tell.)

    As to Yurganov’s comments, no, what I wrote was not what he *said;* it represented my good-faith effort to interpret his comments. Let’s quote him:

    Antarctic methane? It is impossible for the Antarctic continent. AIRS receive radiation in IR, that is coming from the upper troposphere or even stratosphere in that region. It is unsensitive to the very cold surface of the ice dome.

    IOW, the signal does not originate at the surface–since the surface is very, very cold, it is emitting much less strongly in IR than other places. (Again, I’m doing my best to interpret; he didn’t say that explicitly.) So the signal is from the high troposphere, or even the stratosphere. Does it represent methane advected from elsewhere? Is it spurious? (No offence, that is something that happens.) It may also be real methane that has been mixed to that high in the atmosphere. I don’t know.

    “Artifact” may be over-interpreting, but hey, I’m trying to figure out just what Dr. Yurganov meant by his brief comment. Clearly, he is not accepting it at face value.

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