Unforced variations: August 2013

This month’s open thread.

Since there are two main topics (Advocacy and Methane bombs) buzzing around the blogo-twitter-sphere this week, perhaps those are our starters for ten… (Feel free to populate the comments with links to various commentaries – we will chime in as we find time).

450 comments on this post.
  1. KatyD:

    Your Advocacy link isn’t working

    [Response: Fixed. thanks - gavin]

  2. Shelama:

    What to make of stuff like this?…


    [Response: You see it for the cherry-picking it is. For reference, hot and cold records in the US since 1/1/2010 and 1/1/2013 are as follows:

    Daily Record Highs Daily Record Lows Monthly Record Highs Monthly Record Lows All-Time Record Highs All-Time Record Lows Daily Record High Minimums Daily Record Low Maximums
    Since 1/1/10 87,545 34,473 4,619 1,205 697 74 100,591 49,153
    Since 1/1/13 6,967 9,132 236 375 31 9 10,551 10,554

    - gavin]

  3. T. Becker:

    Although neither scientist nor politician I understand Tamsin Edwards’ point of view. But as a citizen I highly prefer a broad channel of communication between both groups in these times, which I can only detect if there is some kind of overlapping e.g. politician talking science and vice versa. If instead of an overlapping there is a hole, I assume it will be quickly filled by lobbyists venting the ‘facts’. So both groups should learn to communicate directly and in the public. It would surely help if more scientists get elected as MPs.

  4. Radge Havers:


    Stoat said some stuff:

    My 2 cents, it’s a fine line, but if it’s not unreasonable for firemen to advocate for smoke detectors and fire prevention, why not let people know that they need to WAKE UP!

  5. Shelama:

    #2… Thanks Gavin.

    I guess I was wondering if there might be any reason to attribute any of it to changes in the speed and the meander of the jetstream or to blocking patterns?

    Or is cherry picking from simple weather all one needs?

  6. Radge Havers:

    Or would advocacy be well dealt with from a process perspective? I don’t suppose climatologists have an organization comparable to the AMA that can issue broad guidelines and recommendations for treating sick planets…

    Poking around, I found this intriguing notion. A local government project that provided a system to protect scientists with a firewall while giving them a channel for recommendations:


    Of course, I suppose there will always be legions of orcs attempting to swarm anything that isn’t constructed under, and evaluated through, the ideologically pure Economic Eye of Sauron.

  7. patrick:

    Wow! Tamsin Edwards has put a lot on the table. When I was looking at that feed I failed to imagine what a masterful writer and advocate (of impartiality) she is.

    She’s fair and she’s fair to Gavin. His advice–to state one’s preferences to avoid accusations of having a hidden agenda–is excellent. Plus it avoids letting someone else do it, and botch it, for you. You will be used one way or another by even apt journalists and editors, or by the miscomm between them.

    Jeremy Grantham: run, don’t walk, to (the University of) Nottingham and see Prof. Ted Cocking. Run!

  8. Chris Colose:

    My own response to the methane issue here.

  9. CumuloNumbskull:

    Gavin. I’d like to request a comment on the recent article in the Guardian as you’re named in it.


  10. Susan Anderson:


    It is useful to keep in mind that ClimateDepot was created by Marc Morano, whoh started as a Limbaugh staffer, masterminded the Swiftboat attacks on Kerry, and then was the power behind the throne during Inhofe’s tenure as head of Senate Environment.

    Anything from that sources should be checked with utmost rigor.

  11. Susan Anderson:

    I appreciate Stoat and Annan on this one, but would add that it is all too familiar to be attacked by people incited by clever manipulators who are happy to have scientists accusing each other of “own goal”.

    The situation is best understood by those studying the real world, and if those studies reveal a situation requiring some strong language, I’m all for it, the most effective strong language that can be found.

    (typos, aargh)

  12. Susan Anderson:

    “Quantifying the Influence of Climate on Human Conflict”

    A rapidly growing body of research examines whether human conflict can be affected by climatic changes. Drawing from archaeology, criminology, economics, geography, history, political science, and psychology, we assemble and analyze the 60 most rigorous quantitative studies and document, for the first time, a remarkable convergence of results. We find strong causal evidence linking climatic events to human conflict across a range of spatial and temporal scales and across all major regions of the world. The magnitude of climate’s influence is substantial: for each 1 standard deviation (1σ) change in climate toward warmer temperatures or more extreme rainfall, median estimates indicate that the frequency of interpersonal violence rises 4% and the frequency of intergroup conflict rises 14%. Because locations throughout the inhabited world are expected to warm 2 to 4σ by 2050, amplified rates of human conflict could represent a large and critical impact of anthropogenic climate change.

    Covered in multiple venues, of which this is one:

  13. Doug:

    # 5 I have wondered something related to what you are asking Shelama. That is, if the polar jet stream is meandering more now, and will continue to do so in the future, would that impact global temperature measurements? How?

  14. Doug:

    # 5 Shelama, You do realize that Climate Depot is a denier site right?

  15. Doug:


    I just wanted to say I followed your tweets regarding the Guardian story, and read the link you provided to the Skeptical Science post from Chris Colose. Thank you for that. I was able to convince somebody today who was very worried that we were on the brink of an Arctic methane emergency, that he probably doesn’t have too much to worry about at the present time in that regard. Thanks for this site, and for all of the outreach you and the other scientists do. You are having an impact!

  16. patrick:

    If you want to put yourself on the line, you don’t have to get arrested, you can just do something like this:


    It’s on the cli-sci-com thread but I think it belongs here too, on advocacy.

    Thank you Cynthia Hopkins for your total and exceptional Arctic rapport. Not everyone can make herself “a metaphor for my species, the human race.”

    There’s Hopkins and there’s Hansen–and there’s every level of engagement besides. Take your time. The mission to earth dawns slowly. It’s like the Venus effect: you know, the perspective one gets from studying planetary atmospheres–which Hansen brought to the study of this planet.

    I found Gavin’s talk on the cli-sci-com thread (and tweets since) very helpful to sort it out, which includes sorting out ‘advocacy.’

    Here’s something forward-looking (September IPCC) which he referenced in a tweet:


    Here’s a fresh non-partisan poll on what under-35 voters think about it, more or less:


    This isn’t about a party or vote to me. It’s about what time it is.

  17. L. Hamilton:

    New surveys find almost 90% believe that Arctic warming will affect the weather where they live, and 59% think such effects will be “major.” Unexpectedly, that percentage rises if the survey interview happens on an unseasonably warm *or cool* day, unscientifically mirroring the scientific discussion of extremes.

    Chris Mooney writes a lively account of these findings:

    Paper itself, in International Journal of Climatology:

  18. JBL:

    Re #10, #14(Susan Anderson, Doug): since it’s so rare to find this phrase correctly used, I wanted to point out that your posts are classic ad hominems. This is not to say that they are wrong (indeed, Morano is a terrible and unreliable source for information about the world), but they are not helpful to anyone’s understanding of anything. (By contrast, Gavin’s short remark pointing out that these numbers are carefully cherry-picked actually conveys interesting information, and helps one realize how numbers like Morano’s can come about.)

  19. Gordon McGrew:

    First Denialist?

    Dr. Robert E. Wilson, president of the Pan American Petroleum and Transport Company, who reports this result in Industrial and Engineering Chemistry, also notes that the fears of those people who shudder at the “greatly” increased carbon dioxide content of the air which is produced by modern industrial activity, are unfounded. If all the carbon dioxide dumped into the atmosphere in the last 50 years had not been removed by returning the elements involved to the Earth in some form or other, the carbon dioxide content of the atmosphere would have increased only two-thousandths of one percent in that time from 0.03 to 0.032 percent.

    - THE CARBON DIOXIDE CONTENT OF THE AIR Science Supplement JULY 30, 1937, page 7

    I wonder if 0.04 percent now unequivocally qualifies as “greatly”?

  20. Susan Anderson:

    Thanks JBL. Gavin indeed is better at providing actual resources and being patient. However, with industrial-strength daily rebunking it is important that people consider the source. They should also learn to check for themselves rather than selectively believing sciencey-looking stuff. Once they’ve taken the trouble to look it up, they will be less ready to believe it the next time it pops up (which will be soon). With searching, they should also be aware that the search engine studies them and provides them first with the information they think the customer wants and is a “fair and balanced” (by which I mean anything but) source, often clustering the fake skeptic universe at the top of the page. Looking for scientific organizations is a great help, but consider the impact of a name like Principia Scientific which hosts some odd material, to put it mildly. I have a lifetime of exposure to extraordinary scientists but most people know very little about how scientists think and work, so a science “look” impresses them. The self-respect needed to push through and accept one’s own lack of knowledge without quitting should be nurtured – which is partly your point, I agree.

    I see this information pushed out every day in multiple locations, and not everyone can find the exact rebuttal or post it (in this case, Gavin formatted it in a neat way as well). Morano’s history is a fact as well, and can give a reasonable reader an indicator of the line of country so they won’t stop with the plausible looking argument but check the source.

    This is a small piece of the argument about how to bring real science out in front of the smothering cloud of false information that crowds it out everywhere you look, without losing integrity.

  21. Ray Ladbury:

    Hmm. JBL, Agreed that posts 10 and 14 are attacking the source rather than the content. However, given the track record of the source, should we use a term other than ad hominem? Perhaps ad douch-nozzle?

  22. patrick:

    #18 Those are just ad curricula. Comment 10 gives relevant detail and says: Anything there should be checked with utmost rigor. That’s helpful. I found it informative, pointed, brief, tame, not offensive. Ditto on 14.

  23. Vr:

    @JBL, I think you’re confused about what an ad hominem argument is, at least as to how it relates to fallacies in argumentation. (see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ad_hominem for a reasonable summary) In sort: an argument attacking a person’s credibility is not fallacious if the past actions, conflicting interests, or revealed motives are relevant to the argument. For example if someone whose been convicted in the past of check kiting is being accused of insurance fraud, that persons prior criminal record is surely relevant. It would not be sufficient evidence in and of itself, of course, and its weight in the matter would need to be evaluated (how long ago was it, how many parties were were there to the crime, how many counts where there over what period of time, etc), but in no circumstances would bringing up the charge with respect to a subsequent allegation of fraud of be considered engaging in an ad hominem, fallacious argument.

    If on the other-hand, one uses Michael Moore’s obesity in an attempt to predispose a reader unfavorably toward him and with no effort to link that physical characteristic with argument: that would be an ad hominem attack. In fact it’s not always clear whether an attack is ad hominem or not at face value. (If Moore were arguing for more government regulation of the food industry, for example, one might make the case that his obesity implies a lack of willpower for which he’s attempting to substitute the exercise of government power. Even though such an argument might be unconvincing, it’s not necessarily an ad hominem.)

    Likewise, pointing out that various players in the climate debate have conflicting interests and long histories of intellectual dishonesty is not engaging in ad hominem attack. Such a line of argumentation is not sufficient, as mentioned above, to prove them wrong. But depending on the egregiousness of their past actions, it’s certainly sufficient grounds to not take such people seriously and exclude them from the list of serious participants of the debate.

  24. Kevin McKinney:

    On ad homs: yes, they are logically fallacious and should have no place in rigorous debate, or something that tries to approximate it. When you say “My opponent is an idiot, therefore I don’t have to consider his argument,” you go beyond the bounds.

    But there’s a fine line between ‘ad hom’ and ‘credential check.’ And nobody’s reading time is infinite. So, saying “This guy is known to be an idiot, therefore I will choose to consider other, more reliable sources before I waste my time reading him,” might just be the smart thing to do.

  25. John Burgeson:

    This is an interview with a Dr Horch, in Germany. I am not sure what to make of it. He does not deny global warming; he does say that it is unlikely to come on us swiftly and that we have 30 years or so to prepare for it. http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/interview-hans-von-storch-on-problems-with-climate-change-models-a-906721.html

  26. JBL:

    It’s been a long time since I’ve read the general comments here (usually I stick to the posts and the comments with responses from our hosts), so perhaps this serves me right for wandering into an open thread, but:

    The responses to my comment, particularly Vr’s, are rather frustrating. No one needs to explain to me who Morano is and why he’s a terrible source of information — this is obvious to anyone who spends five minutes looking into his background, certainly was known and obvious to me, and probably was obvious to Shelama. But, Shelama didn’t ask about Morano’s credentials, Shelama asked about a particular post containing a particular piece of data. As far as I can tell, there is nothing wrong with this data (i.e., it is true that there were so many cold records and so many hot records set in the US in the week in question). Given this fact, talking about Morano’s competence or honesty or whatever is to utterly, completely miss the point. If Morano presents a piece of *correct* data and you say, “Well, you know that Morano, can’t trust a word he says,” then you end up looking like a complete fool. (Because, after all, the data *really is* correct!)

    The question is what this piece of data means, or as Shelama put it, “what to make of it.” Knowing that Morano is unreliable is not at all helpful for answering this question. Moreover, focusing on ad hominems (Vr aside, I hope everyone can recognize that e.g. if Doug’s post doesn’t count as an ad hominem argument then nothing possibly ever could) when there is an actual legitimate question on the floor just increases the noise-to-signal ratio. If I want to read people dismissing data (or expertise, etc.) out-of-hand, I’ll go read the comments at WUWT, thank you very much.

    (Apologies to Doug and Susan Anderson for the piling on.)

  27. Susan Anderson:

    Please return to science. we get it …

  28. poster:

    Off topic Watts has another fossil fuel funded poll up which can be found here https://t.co/EBGqrL7J1u

  29. Meow:

    @JBL (26): An ad hom (as others have already pointed out) is an argument that dismisses a person’s views based upon some personal characteristic that has no logical connection to those views’ validity.

    Noting that a given site is a “denier site” is not an ad hom, since it dismisses the site’s climate views upon the basis that they’re not science-based, as opposed to dismissing them because, say, the author is overweight or a Klingon.

    CAPTCHA: ectsNoto received

  30. patrick:

    #26 Thank you very much. If you “go read” those comments you will be in ad hominem nation–in addition to their “dismissing data” and expertise. Ditto the other place. They lead with the reptilian brain in order to have the impression of thought, it seems to me.

    Comments 10 and 14 are not ad hominems to me, certainly not classics. If that’s as good as they get, we’re golden. They are plain-speak about what’s going on, I think.

    Comment 10 helped me right away because I won’t give the site cit. a single click–nor the one you mention. I’ve had my lifetime quota of wot’s-their-names reptilian brain pumps.

    I would like to see a bit of the kind of linguistic precision applied here that your site admirably applies in other matters. And I like origami.

    The wrong dear Brutus is not in the data but in our frame. You’re right: “The question is what this piece of data _means_.” An adequate frame was given at #2, which stands in for the rest of the science from there. If there weren’t temperature weeks like this, that would be a real problem. The weather’s just great where I am, almost perfect.

    And the guy waving this factoid, it means nothing to him except a chance to jam the conversation–because he lives on it, for whatever reason. He’s picking the shameful-easy fruit. Speaking for me.

    I think it’s a good idea to take people on their own terms. He’s monkey-wrenching. The End.

    The correct response to the bit of public data he waves, as data, without valid context, is “Well, duh.”

  31. Hank Roberts:

    > a Dr Horch, in Germany
    op.cit. (spell his name as he does –> search finds prior mentions of him)

  32. Thomas:

    I’ve seen a few references recently (I don’t have any of them), to a paper claiming
    that we could sequester a great deal of CO2 by planting “forests” in deserts. They
    seemed to make a pretty strong claim, that the rate of CO2 removal could be close
    to th world’s current emissions.
    Aside from the practicality of the proposal (water), and the rather strong claims
    about carbon removal, I have doubts that the other climate impacts of a successful
    program would be entirely benign. Currently deserts increase the global albedo, and
    extra water vapor acts as a greenhouse gas. Also dust derives from deserts are an
    important source of trace minerals for many ocean and land ecosystems.
    Has, anyone here, seen the study, and want to comment?

  33. Susan Anderson:

    (you might suspect me of shilling for sympathy here and you would not be 100% wrong …) I’ve been doing regular (self-imposed) duty for years trying to point past Morano’s twin at DotEarth, one wmar. There isn’t anything I don’t know about the tactics such a person will use (and there are few mistakes in trying to be honest I haven’t made, making myself quite vulnerable in the process).

    Telling me that using shortcuts is ad hominem don’t make no nevermind to me. I’m interested in getting the truth out, by the quickest possible method, so people will get their self respect back, think for themselves, using their “lying” senses, and act as the community of humankind they were born to be. (You can’t get anywhere with a solid surface of facile reversals of meaning ready to exploit each new thing you say, you just have to ignore it and move on with another truthful building block.)

    This is also why I don’t care much about the exact facts on methane, but rather on people keeping an open mind and respecting the people in the field. It’s also why I don’t care much about Tamsin’s lecturing those who are willing to use any means available to wake people up.

  34. David B. Benson:

    I don’t know about how many readers of comments here on Real Climate are first timers or other measures of newness to matters climatological. But please, assume there are some. Reminds about Morano and others of that ilk from time to time is entirely appropriate.

    [The reCAPCHA oracle appears to agree, entoning commence FZVACT.]

  35. Thomas Lee Elifritz:

    Excuse me, but Morano is a vicious paid attack dog, and deserves whatever derision at whatever level anyone and muster or stomach, thank you. That includes whatever insidious ad homs anyone can think of, this is an individual that deserves no better. If your skin is that thin, find another catastrophe to advocate. Thanks in advance.

  36. doug:


    One more comment on this subject and then we can all go back to getting a life, okay? I just find it a little amusing that you chose to double down on calling my comment an ad hominem attack, even after you were given the wiki definition of what the term means! Yeah, perhaps you shouldn’t come back and wade into the dangerous waters of unforced variation comments from us rabble. It’s safer just reading what the climate scientists have to say.

  37. owl905:

    There’s another old issue back in the headlines – one near and dear to RC – the Younger Dryas.
    The actual research is interesting – a layer in the GISP2 core shows a platinum (not iridium) spike, and the shape of the spike fits with a high atmosphere ring depositing in a two-decade clearing. The YD debate is real science – a mini KT-type controversy. If you’re looking for a place that doesn’t care for ET answers … you’re already here.

  38. jrshipley:

    This paper is being hyped by the usual suspects. It’s behind a paywall but I found a liberated PDF on a website devoted to denying human influence on climate. I found parts of the analysis fishy and would like expert opinion to confirm my suspicions:


  39. JCH:

    Street cred is all about why we commonly use the ad hominem. They’re imperfect, but highly efficient when it comes to wielding power.

    We all know in the arena of “the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth” no lawyer would ever take the ad-hominem cutoff. Unh-uh.

  40. Kevin McKinney:

    #32–Interesting question. I can’t offer anything remotely authoritative, but I’d note that at the global level, evaporative effects are ~3x larger than reflection in removing heat from the surface:


    So it seems quite possible to me that the afforestation you’re talking about might result in net cooling as the increased evapotranspiration would be considerably greater than the increased absorption.

  41. Mal Adapted:

    As others have pointed out, it’s not ad hominem to observe that a denier’s reasoning is motivated by conflict of interest:

    Conflict of Interest: Where a source seeks to convince by a claim of authority or by personal observation, identification of conflicts of interest are not ad hominem – it is generally well accepted that an “authority” needs to be objective and impartial, and that an audience can only evaluate information from a source if they know about conflicts of interest that may affect the objectivity of the source. Identification of a conflict of interest is appropriate, and concealment of a conflict of interest is a problem.

    Susan’s comment @10 is appropriate, and to the benefit of any lurkers who aren’t acquainted with that denier site.

  42. Flakmeister:

    I have to chuckle about the debate over ad homs…

    Now, RC is a repectable site with intellectual integrity, I very rarely see ad hom type ripostes that were not earned; i.e. the person has made a statement that demonstrates that they are a fool or a liar. Here you have the facts and audience on the right side of the debate. Aside from the brave troll that wanders in every now and typically leaves with their tail between their legs, you don’t get much nasty dissent..

    Now, perhaps unfortunately, there are other sites where the climate is not so amenable to any form of measured discussion. I frequent one such site, Zerohedge.com, where I delightfully take on all comers about the merits of the anthropogenic nature of changing climate…

    Imagine now, what it would be like to be completely outnumbered arguing the AGW case with a mob. The fact that the site is basically unmoderated (you have to really push the limits to get censored, e.g. holocaust denial) works both ways, you can get your message out but you will take abuse. The payback comes when you can combine the correct rebuttal to some flawed argument while delivering a withering ad hom attack connected to their flawed argument. That is the only way you get credibility.

    Over the past year, I have been successful to the point where the “silent majority” is slowly emerging, safe in the knowledge that they will not be bullied. While it is always better to take the high ground, in the trenches you must demonstrate that you will not be cowed…

    Hopefully with time the only places deniers will not be called out and made to look foolish will be their havens like WUWT. Make no mistake, these people are nasty and the only way to shut them up is to public humiliate them through a combination of correct science and shame. They will not be converted through reason, they can only be silenced through fear of being made to look foolish…

    I would be remiss if I did not say that without sites like RC, SkS and Open Mind, defending AGW would be impossible…


    Back to the topic at hand: #10, while being worded in a less than flattering way is not an ad hom, it borders on the “guilt by association” fallacy, but even then that is pushing it. I give it a thumbs up but it would only play to an RC type crowd…

    #14 is hardly an ad hom either..

    Now something to the effect of

    “Only a shill or disigenuous sack of xxxx to would compute a trend that way. It only shows that you’re a XXXXing narcissist Libtard that someone should slip a XXXX over their head and XXXX some sense into”

    Anyway, you get the idea… :)

  43. Dave123:

    @38- The “paper” appears in Energy and Environment- which is a giveaway that something is wrong with it:


    @ 40 Once you evaporate water the heat is part of the earth’s climate system, and will need to be lost as part of the outgoing longwave IR radiation. Reflection via albedo sends the energy directly back into outer space.

    btw- I’m getting very consistent rejection by reCaptcha and I’m not that blind this morning

  44. Hank Roberts:

    define:”concern troll” may be useful, re discussion of the discussion; it’s the tactic used to get off topic and split up the people who are trying to accomplish something together in a conversation.

    For jrshipley: you’re referring to

    Meteosat Derived Planetary Temperature Trend 1982-2006
    A Rosema, S Foppes, J van der Woerd
    - Energy & Environment, 2013 – Multi-Science

    “24 year of Meteosat hourly thermal infrared data have been used to study planetary surface temperature change. Thermal infrared radiation in the 10.5-12.5 mm spectral window is not affected by CO2 and only slightly by atmospheric water vapor. Satellite thermal infrared …”

    Cited by, er, nobody at all, not even once, per Google Scholar.

    You do know about this “Energy and Environment” and “Multi-Science” that publishes it? ‘oogle will help, if you don’t.

    Boring, basically.

  45. MARodger:

    Thomas @32.

    I assume you are thinking of Becker et al 2012 (Abstract here.) The sequestration works out to about 500 tons carbon per sq km so it would take 20 million sq km (about the combined size of USA & Canada) to absorb a quantity equal to human emissions.
    The authors only claim that the there is “sufficient unused and marginal land … to reduce significantly the current upward trend in atmospheric CO2 levels” but to know what they mean by that you will require access to the full paper. I have seen talk of the Sahara desert (which is pretty big) and one billion hectares (half USA & Canada) that would ‘absorb a significant proportion of the CO2 added to the atmosphere since pre-industrial times’. Why this is not expressed in total emissions since pre-industrial times I know not. Reducing atmospheric CO2 will result in balancing emissions from the biosphere & oceans.

  46. Michael Sweet:


    Your paper is published in Energy and Environment, a selective journal that publishes junk that deniers cannot get published in a real science journal. It is not peer reviewed, although the deniers like to say it is. It is generally not worth the time to read anything published in it. If this paper gets enough traction on the internet someone will write a post summarizing all the errors in it.

  47. Hank Roberts:

    Tangentially, what’s the opposite of “ad hominem” — what is it called when someone says “he’s a nice guy” or “but we’re the good guys” as a defense of a criticism of a piece of work? I run into this most often when I criticize something from a nonscientist who’s trying rather too hard to be scary about something and going beyond the science. It’s not unique to the Internet, of course.

  48. patrick:

    #47 Agreed. The fallacy of the logic lies in the fact that the issue or the question is avoided. Ditto, “He’s got a good heart.” But the ad hominem can be taken all the way to depersonalization and dehumanization–which is magnified by media. The Rwandan genocide was orchestrated live in real-time and out-loud on the radio. I am far over my lifetime quota of hearing that for-every-right-there’s-a-responsibilty–excepting the right to free speech.

  49. jrshipley:

    I might have not communicated clearly because some people are addressing my comment as if I gave that paper any credence.

    I can see that it’s published in a shitty journal. Dialectically that’s not super useful, even if it is evidentially relevant. Even if, from the standpoint of sound social epistemology, “that’s not worth reading because the journal is crap” makes sense, you sort of have to address it if someone brings it up in a debate.

    I also read it and could list off a bunch of specific criticisms. But I’m not an expert and since it’s popping up in the usual places and is showing up in comment threads I’d like to have an expert opinion clearly and concisely stated. That would be useful to have.

    It sort of goes to the whole ad hom discussion in this thread. If someone is making an argument from authority citing this then pointing out that the journal is shitty does relevantly apply to that argument. However, if we’re to evaluate the arguments in the paper themselves then it actually is an ad hom to only say the journal is shitty. It would be nice to say “this paper’s analysis is shitty because XYZ and that’s why it’s in a shitty journal.”

  50. jrshipley:

    After reading 46, nevermind my last comment. ” If this paper gets enough traction on the internet someone will write a post summarizing all the errors in it.” That’s what I was looking for, and I agree that the antecedent needs to be satisfied first.

  51. Henk Lankamp:

    Some first remarks re the Rosema ‘paper’:

    1. They assume daily mean temperature is the mean of temperature at noon and at midnight. It isn’t. With clear sky conditions a maximum will occur several hours after noon, and minimum after sunset.

    2. They assume that local temperatures will behave linear between 12Z and 13Z. Such a behaviour is rather seldom.

    3. They assume that the highest value in a 10 (or 20/30) days window around the measurements is the best estimate for a ‘clear sky’ value. It’s perhaps the best estimate for IR radiation, but not for near surface temperatures. Further: clear skies aren’t ‘normal’ for our planet.

  52. patrick:

    #25 John Burgeson: That’s Hans von Storch.


    Note the resignation episode and follow the explanatory links if you wish, as far as you please.

    Search his name on this site. There’s a lot. About the Spiegel twist:


    Note the mentions of Schnellnhuber in the article you cite.


    “From solid state physics and quantum mechanics, John Schellnhuber´s interest was drawn to complex systems and nonlinearity or chaos theory. This is what later led him to do research on the climate system which is characterised by its complexity and nonlinearity. Having become a full professor for theoretical physics and then director at the Institute for Chemistry and Biology of the Marine Environment at Oldenburg University in northern Germany, he was involved in analysing the complex structure of ocean currents. In 1991 he was called upon to create PIK before becoming its director in 1993 – making it grow from zero to one of the world’s most renowned climate research institutes with today more than 300 employees following an interdisciplinary approach.”

    Here’s John Schellnhuber two years ago:


    “[Due to possibilities in the "logic" of the masking effect of aerosols and the inertia of the ocean] I can argue: Two degrees [centigrade] is not a safe level. Below two degrees probably the Great Barrier Reef will perish…not just because of warming but because of ocean acidification–the combined effect is devastating…But many other systems can survive if you do not turn up the heat more than two degrees. Beyond two degrees large-scale non-linearities will kick in. That means entire organs, if you like–vital organs of the planetary system–might collapse.”

    I’d like to take the last paragraph of the article you cite and make it the lead.

    If you are interested in the controversy that inevitably arises from the first link above, see Michael Mann’s talk linked on the AGU Chapman Conference on Climate Science Communication current post, and maybe this video (plus your RC search):


    Spiegel is working the #6 Most Used Climate Myth compiled by SkepticalScience. Sks and every practicing climate scientist around have scooped Spiegel already on the story that–gasp–models may be improved. So there will be no embarrassment in any case (though von Storch’s may endure):


    The either-or given by von Storch in the article is far from exhaustive. There’s another possibility made clear by HJS (see video)–and by Richard Alley on the cli-sci-com thread: one is far from reading, by global surface temp alone, what’s already in the system. If I heard right.

  53. patrick:

    Make that: “Schellnhuber” with one “n.”

  54. Meow:

    @51: re: “1. They assume daily mean temperature is the mean of temperature at noon and at midnight. It isn’t. With clear sky conditions a maximum will occur several hours after noon, and minimum after sunset.”
    Under clear skies (and assuming — ha! — that the only factor distinguishing day and night is insolation), the minimum will occur slightly before dawn, at which point outgoing IR has just become balanced by absorption of incoming sunlight.

  55. David B. Benson:

    owl905 @37 — Thank you! But I suspect we cannot call the event the Clovis comet any longer.

  56. patrick:

    51 Thank you for your prompt first remarks. How about the fact that “almost the entire hemisphere” isn’t the globe? Is that relevant?

    If the idea is to develop insurance for hydrological events including drought, it seems that Munich Re and the Reinsurance Association of America are on a more complete page, so to speak. I mean: in regard to what’s significant in climatology for global temperature, and what’s relevant about global trends–including trends of atmospheric and oceanic temperature at every level, CO2, and extreme events.

    The paper says it has “used [Meteosat visual and thermal] data to study recent planetary temperature” that were originally composed to apply to drought monitoring and to crop and river flow forecasting–and to develop insurance for hydrological events including drought, more recently.

  57. NickC:

    Back to Advocacy …

    The following link for example points to an enormous unfair onus placed on all actors in the specific anthropogenic debate to be the frontline warriors in a social policy fight. (By specific I mean, not the argument that there is warming, but if the anthropogenic contribution is worrying)


  58. Chuck Hughes:

    Okay, so who exactly is Robert Scribbler? I’m not looking for criticism of fellow scientists or individuals who are working to solve the climate problem but I did a few google searches on Robert and wasn’t able to find much in the way of information. He seems to have a different take on the whole methane debate in that he thinks it may be a serious problem. In case there are a few who are not familiar with his blog here is the link:


    I’ve heard of wordpress.com but not Robert Scribbler. I’m looking for a little background information and would like to know if Mr. Scribbler is a scientist of some sort or if anyone can point me in the right direction. Thanks

  59. MalcolmT:

    Chuck@58 Given that a ‘scribbler’ is a writer, that the blog has a category devoted to a fantasy novel advertised in the side-bar, and that the novel’s author’s first name is Robert, I don’t think you’re looking at professional scientific work … although I admit I could be wrong.

  60. flxible:

    Chuck Hughes, What makes you think Robert whoever is a ‘scientist’? Why does it matter? If you notice the Amazon adverts for books on Mr “Scribblers” blog, you might have a clue to follow to the mans real persona. He appears to be what some refer to as a “talking head”.

  61. patrick:

    37 & 55 Thank you. You’ve got my attention.
    “Large Pt anomaly in the Greenland ice core points to a cataclysm at the onset of Younger Dryas” Approved at PNAS June 26. The abstract is here:


    Anyone can see the abstract and supporting materials.

    I hope RC does a post or guest post on this, or that there’s something on it at the Fall AGU, or that a contributor weighs in on it on this thread.

  62. Thomas Lee Elifritz:

    I could weigh in on the purported YD (impact event?). You may not like it though. It’s not necessarily something that can be said in a paragraph, and so I’m not about to dive into this again unless there is a specific request for my personal take on it, independently of the ‘contributors’. Thanks.

  63. Hank Roberts:

    > 58,59,60
    The person you’re asking about was reading last month’s open thread and replied to questions about his blog there, and I hope is still participating.
    His heart’s in the right place.

  64. Hank Roberts:

    incomplete, but it’s a start (it’s for science fiction related to climate)

    Some excellent links there already to real projects.

  65. Susan Anderson:

    1. Fascinating about the platinum and Younger Dryas.

    2. RobertScribbler has been following along and collecting information along with a variety of skilled and unskilled amateurs and scientists at Neven’s blog. His observations about the extraordinary heat at the Ob River are supported by real information about weather extremes, here:
    and more specifically, here

    There seems to be a repressive attitude towards discussion of possibilities, particularly when the word methane comes into the discussion. It really is too bad that the extraordinary costs of climate disruption in the ordinary way of business got buried in the specifics of what appears to have been some rather simplistic assumptions and exaggerated scenarios.

    I would suggest that being repressive is going to have the opposite effect from the one intended, as a lot of observation is pouring in. “We don’t know” is not quite the same as “it’s impossible.” Gavin makes this distinction nicely in his tweets. I acknowledge that currently there is a lot of information that indicates for the moment methane is a very very minor contributor and the mechanisms and history say we shouldn’t shift focus or take extreme measures on an outside chance that history and data do not support.

    While one must acknowledge that local weather is only a very small part of the climate record, in a multidisciplinary field, where observation is outstripping theory, it is useful to observe and collect these instances. The most spectacular one is former “skeptic” Stu Ostro’s over 1000 page powerpoint that demonstrates how out of whack recent history is.

    No matter what you do or say, ordinary people are going to relate best to local weather. Instead of stomping on that, the best communicators seem to put it in context (Jeff Masters, Jennifer Francis, Peter Sinclair, et al.).

    [Response: It's worth addressing one of your points more directly than perhaps I have to date. There are indeed many unknowns going forward and we should certainly be alert for 'surprises' or anomalies in the observations that can point us in the right directions. The example of the Antarctic polar ozone hole is a classic example. However, there is a huge difference between maintaining vigilance and declaring an imminent and ongoing 'emergency' - as is being done by a few people associated with the 'methane' issue. It is the difference between installing smoke detectors and yelling 'Fire!'. Sometimes, as with the overall climate trajectory we are on, we can marshall a lot of theoretical knowledge, successful predictions, and ongoing observations to make a robust case for what to expect. Other times, there is no theoretical basis (merely extreme extrapolations), no successful track record, and no supporting observations (imaginary shallow hydrates for instance). These two cases are not equivalent, and when people expect us to give the two projections equal consideration, they are just going to be frustrated. Scientifically, it does not matter what is being predicted, but rather how it is being predicted. Astrologers who predict that you will meet a tall dark handsome stranger today may occasionally be correct - but the method by which they come to their predictions is demonstrably worthless, and so an occasionally correct guess does not count for much. Method matters. - gavin]

  66. Hank Roberts:

    But, whoah, look how the “methane emergency” meme is being propagated:
    Any of you authors, check in there with some reality.

  67. Hank Roberts:

    > repressive … discussion of possibilities

    Anything might possible sometime.

    Facts, observations, and probabilities are constraints, not repression.

  68. E.L.:

    In the linked article by Tamsin Edwards, the author ponders the notion that scientists should be some type of impartial judges of fact. But I wonder where the author believes such judicial authority will come from in our society. Simply stating that evolution is real is sufficient enough to be hated by a large portion of American society. So it seems to me that the author fails to realize that there is competing authorities out there on what is and what isn’t fact. And as soon as scientists make a claim on a fact, they are also making a political statement that their competitors are wrong.

    In addition, why shouldn’t scientists admit their conformation biases as Gavin suggested? Conformation bias is one of the deadly sins of scientific thinking. Should the public be lead to believe that scientists are not like mortal men who are subject to such concerns? Scientists should not only state their biases in the open, but carefully explain how they avoided allowing those biases from impacting their studies. I think that’s simply good science.

    Just my 2 cents…

  69. Chuck Hughes:

    As a non scientist and someone who tries very hard to be a “realist”, I want to separate the wheat from the chaff if I can and I know many others are trying to do the same. I’m all for anyone focused on solutions and realistic outcomes and try to avoid being overly dramatic when discussing Climate Change with friends and family but it helps to have accurate, up to date information based on sound science and research, which is why I keep reading this site.

    After reading what Hank Roberts and others had to say about methane, what Mr. Scribbler said in response to what Gavin and others had said seemed overly dramatic to me but I needed a second opinion.

    One thing I’m curious about now is this…. will we or have we already reached a point where CO2 levels are increasing without human contribution? Thanks

  70. David B. Benson:

    Thomas Lee Elifritz @62 — Opine away, please.

  71. Radge Havers:

    E.L. @ 68

    Two words:
    Peer review

    Transparency is generally a good thing for a number of reasons. Sometimes it preempts the debators and their rhetorical tricks, and that’s good enough in itself.

    “Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not to his own facts.”
    Daniel Patrick Moynihan

    AGW is real, and it’s reasonable to assume that climatologists may have some insight into what to do about it, even though society at large could in theory consciously chose to deal with it through suicide–as a matter of policy. It’s ok for individual climatologists to disagree with that, and their integrity shouldn’t be impugned or the reality of AGW dismissed because of it.

  72. patrick:

    62 Thomas Lee Effritz Yes, please do. Please.

  73. Kevin McKinney:

    “One thing I’m curious about now is this…. will we or have we already reached a point where CO2 levels are increasing without human contribution?”

    #69–No, not yet–or else we’d be witnessing a tremendous rise in the atmospheric concentration of CO2.

    That must be the case, since we know that Earth’s systems have been sinking ~50% of our emissions. So you’d expect concentration increase rates to double or more, compared with the rates we’ve been experiencing if the planet ( mostly meaning, probably, the oceans) suddenly became a net source of CO2. There’d be no missing that…

    As to the future possibilities, I leave that question to those much more knowledgable than I am–remarking only that deglaciations in the past seem to have involved CO2 increases without human assistance, and there’s no reason to think the fundamental physics are any different today.

  74. Hank Roberts:

    I’m not sure about how to interpret this one:
    > “… a point where CO2 levels are increasing without human contribution?”

    Do you mean without -further- human contribution?
    And do you mean levels in the atmosphere, the oceans, or the sum of the two?

    We’re not talking about an increase that increases (a “runaway” feedback) — yet.

    That runaway becomes the story if we take several more stupid steps in that stupid direction, making things worse (Donella Meadows warns we often do know where the leverage point is and push systems in the wrong direction).

    We (as a species, with a future) need to find the smart path and take steps along it — invest the time and money in less immediately profitable longterm ways, taking the short term costs on ourselves instead of externalizing them to poorer people and the future.

    Get off the wrong mountain, go through the valley and start climing the right mountain, energywise, as Neil Stephenson put it recently. He wrote of:

    “… the true innovation-killer of our age. In this environment, the best an audacious manager can do is to develop small improvements to existing systems—climbing the hill, as it were, toward a local maximum, trimming fat, eking out the occasional tiny innovation—like city planners painting bicycle lanes on the streets as a gesture toward solving our energy problems. Any strategy that involves crossing a valley—-accepting short-term losses to reach a higher hill in the distance—-will soon be brought to a halt by the demands of a system that celebrates short-term gains and tolerates stagnation, but condemns anything else as failure. In short, a world where big stuff can never get done.”

    That’s from:
    Innovation Starvation | World Policy Institute

  75. prokaryotes:

    The Late Triassic Extinction, Persistent Photic Zone Euxinia, and Rising Sea Levels http://climatestate.com/magazine/2013/08/the-late-triassic-extinction-persistent-photic-zone-euxinia-and-rising-sea-levels/

  76. prokaryotes:

    From above link

    “The temporal mismatch between methane release from gas hydrates and the onset of euxinia and mass extinction suggests that at best methane release was a consequence and not a driving mechanism. There is increasing evidence that the release of volatiles to the atmosphere from widespread flood basalt volcanism, especially through interaction with surrounding crustal rocks, was among the prime causes for the end-Triassic and Pliensbachian–Toarcian mass extinction and ensuing marine anoxic events.”

    This was 200mil years ago, a very active geological time, however the processes at play likely occur because of ocean stratification – anoxic events.


    Increased thermohaline stratification as a possible cause for an ocean anoxic event in the Cretaceous period http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v409/n6818/abs/409325a0.html

  77. Thomas Lee Elifritz:

    I’ve been having trouble with the comment form and so this will be brief, the biggest problem I’ve had with this hypothesis is did something happen at all, that’s always a sticking point with me even starting such a conversation. Certainly whatever ‘it’ is doesn’t appear to be a large cometary airburst onto the ice sheet, forming a temporary circular crater lake and a drainage nexus for the catastrophic discharge of glacial Lake Agassiz. That’s if you believe the composition reports of the various impact spherules.

    It’s possibly to think about such things though because the ice sheets were ubiquitous and there is already a one in a hundred year Tunguska type flux, and so some outliers would be expected on millennial and one in ten thousand years, but to my mind it seems far fetched according to its form.

    There is Corossol, though, and if you think about a big hypervelocity straight down impact of a heavy bolide through a thick ice sheet and then forming a columnar disruption down into the bedrock, then maybe we’re just seeing the bottom of it, and then possibly you could get into some magnitudes that align with some of the data. There then is the additional attraction of an ozone collapse and a ten year deviation from the atmospheric norm, which may very well be enough to tip the scales against a very fragile megafaunal foraging and hunter gatherer relationships. Corossol is kinda in the right place too. So some deep seismic information on Corossol might be useful here, not much else out there to find.

    So the Younger Dryas is still a hydraulic phenomenon, I can’t connect the dots to anything else. There is still a huge battle going on more or less over the locations, magnitudes, durations and frequency of the discharges and their various effects on the atmospheric and oceanic circulation and ice feedbacks.

    I hope that helps and I’d be happy to answer any specific questions. This topic is pretty easy to follow.

  78. WebHubTelescope:

    Interesting recent abstract

    W. Wang, P. Ciais, R. R. Nemani, J. G. Canadell, S. Piao, S. Sitch, M. A. White, H. Hashimoto, C. Milesi, and R. B. Myneni, “Variations in atmospheric CO2 growth rates coupled with tropical temperature,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2013.

    I don’t have full access to the paper, but the press releases of the paper say “The study, published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, found that a temperature anomaly of just 1ºC (in near surface air temperatures in the tropics) leads to a 3.5-Petagram (billion tonnes of carbon) anomaly in the annual CO2 growth rate, on average. This is the equivalent of 1/3 of the annual global emissions from the combustion of fossil fuels and deforestation together.”

    I am interested if anyone has seen the full paper and if this 1/3 is permanent or transient.

  79. sidd:

    Thanx for ocean anoxia/euxinia posts. Any oceanographers around want to hazard a guess as to the probability of Red Sea or Med going anoxic or euxinic in the next century ?


  80. Tenney Naumer:

    @owl, please make contact,I’m back in the land of the living [sorry for OT comment]

  81. Hank Roberts:


  82. E.L.:

    @71. “Peer review” doesn’t necessarily lend the same kind of authority in the broader public as it does in the expert community. Once information is brought to the public, it’s potentially competing with other interests. And the discourse of debate isn’t always harmonious with facts. Debate teams are born and raised to argue the best despite facts. And the news networks by and large operate on the drama of such debates.

  83. owl905:

    @77 – at one juncture in the remote past, the YD Event had bold font possibilities for being the event that kicked off the anomaly of the current inter-glacial (it snuffed out the internally forced drive that heats the inter-glacial out). It was also the endgame for the European Solutrean technology transfer (okay, that’s crypto-archeaology). But the tough part was having the guys at RC say there was no Santa Claus at all.
    But it’s not over – the 3-impact group around the St. Lawrence basin show iron residue, and the hypothesis from the Pataev et. al. papers is an iron meteorite with a platinum instead of iridium component. The railway spike would be platinum (who has non-alluvial differentiators?) residue in the three craters.

  84. owl905:

    @77 – at one juncture in the remote past, the YD Event had bold font possibilities for being the event that kicked off the anomaly of the current inter-glacial (it snuffed out the internally-forced drivers that overcooks the thaw). It was also the endgame for the European Solutrean technology transfer (okay, that’s crypto-archeaology). But the tough part was having the guys at RC say there was no Santa Claus at all.
    But it’s not over – the 3-impact group around the St. Lawrence basin show iron residue, and the hypothesis from the Pataev et. al. papers is an iron meteorite with a platinum instead of iridium component. The railway spike would be platinum (who has non-alluvial differentiators?) residue in the three craters.

  85. patrick:

    74 Hank > Innovation Starvation: crossing the valley (to get the big stuff done).

    That reminds me closely of John Schellnhuber’s animation (starting at minute 43:00) in his “Climate Change: the Critical Decade” talk at Melbourne (2011):


  86. Chuck Hughes:

    “Do you mean without -further- human contribution?
    And do you mean levels in the atmosphere, the oceans, or the sum of the two?” – Hank Roberts

    Yes and yes. Where the rise in CO2 is being perpetuated by the planet itself, independent of human activity and due to various feedbacks. It seems that we may be headed in that direction from what I can gather but of course I have no idea. We may be a long way from such an event but that seems more likely to me now than some sort of “methane burp.”

    Kevin says we’re not there yet because if we were “we would be seeing a tremendous rise in CO2 levels.” I trust that to be the case but does that mean we’re still a long way from that becoming a reality or is it a distinct possibility in the not to distant future (that’s assuming a BAU scenario remains in place and politicians continue to do nothing)? Thanks

  87. Hank Roberts:

    For Chuck Hughes, try here:

  88. prokaryotes:

    Seven facts you need to know about the Arctic methane timebomb

  89. Radge Havers:

    E.L. @ 82

    Well, yeah. This is a known problem, hence the discussion of ‘advocacy’: what’s appropriate for scientists, how can it be done to effectively promote action and understanding, etc. There may be more broad acceptance of AGW than you realize, but the general passivity, and the corrupt elements that promote it are problematic.

    That said, my limited understanding of what’s controversial about advocacy is not the tackling of denial, but rather how the lines between science and policy are defined. There are areas of overlap and areas where we’re talking about different kinds of expertise– areas where scientists could quickly find themselves out of their depth and making a distraction of themselves. And then there’s the touchy specter of potential conflicts of interest.

    From where I sit, it looks like climate science, historically removed from people’s daily concerns, isn’t quite plugged in yet to civic mechanisms for preparedness in the way that, say, seismology or meteorology are.

  90. Jeffrey Davis:

    There are temperate zone clathrates where water temps are beyond anything envisioned by AGW for Arctic regions. It’s damn difficult to get clathrates to give up their goodies. If it were easy, the natural gas companies would have long since killed us by exploiting it.

    Temperate zone people in the Northern Hemisphere will be dead from the advance of tropical diseases or glowing from nukes used in The Great Food War long before we succumb to a giant Arctic fart.

  91. Pat Cassen:

    Web @78: Full paper is here; I haven’t read it yet.

  92. Hank Roberts:

    The guy who’s writing the methane emergency stuff at the Guardian, and engaging so much with Gavin on Twitter, is the author of some material profiled at Sourcewatch:
    Think Tank Study: Did Bush Policies Aid 9/11 Attacks? New book incriminates top officials in 9/11 atrocity, June 7, 2002 /Xpress Press/:

    … The War on Freedom: How and Why America was Attacked, by a British political scientist at the Institute for Policy Research & Development (IPRD), documenting that the White House and U.S. intelligence must have known more than they admit.”

    … “Institute for Policy Research & Development (IPRD), a think tank based in Brighton, UK, is honoured to announce the publication of a powerful new study of the September 11th terrorist attacks, by Executive Director, Nafeez Mosaddeq Ahmed.”

    “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”

  93. Kevin McKinney:

    #86–”Kevin says we’re not there yet because if we were “we would be seeing a tremendous rise in CO2 levels.” I trust that to be the case but does that mean we’re still a long way from that becoming a reality or is it a distinct possibility in the not to distant future (that’s assuming a BAU scenario remains in place and politicians continue to do nothing)?”

    That I don’t know, not really. I’d guess that change in such a distributed system might not be likely to be abrupt–we are talking about multiple sinks and sources distributed over almost all the planet’s surface, with maybe hundreds or thousands of biological species involved. I think there’s quite a lot of complexity on the geochemical side, too.

    Also–and speaking of geochemistry–ocean outgassing would be an important piece of the puzzle, and it’s pretty linear with temperature, right? So it *should* get worse gradually, not abruptly.

    But this is all pretty much off the top of my head.

  94. Pat Cassen:

    Web – They’re talking about interannual variability, not long-term growth rates:
    Here we show a strong and persistent coupling (r2 ≈ 0.50) between interannual variations of the CO2 growth rate and tropical land–surface air temperature during 1959 to 2011, with a 1 °C tropical temperature anomaly leading to a 3.5 ± 0.6 Petagrams of carbon per year (PgC/y) CO2 growth-rate anomaly on average.

  95. Kevin McKinney:

    #78–Found a PDF, here:


    Hope to read it later; it should have some bearing on Chuck’s question, if only indirectly.

  96. Hank Roberts:

    In the Guardian Nafeez Ahmed writes:

    “… studies do indicate past precedent. A 2009 Science paper argues that abrupt, catastrophic emissions from Arctic methane clathrates including from thawing permafrost played a key role 11,600 years ago at the end of the Younger Dryas …”

    His link leads, with one further click, to this study:


    Which says:

    “Corrected results suggest that wetland sources were likely responsible for the majority of the Younger Dryas–Preboreal CH4 rise.”


    Nafeez Ahmed appears to be conflating permafrost in wetlands with permafrost underwater with methane hydrates.

  97. Thomas Lee Elifritz:

    #84 – Yes, but the data seems to reveal something at the limit of resolution and does not support the idea of an oblique exploding volatile rich bolide catastrophe south of Lake Nipigon, spewing fragments far and wide. That’s your very distant plan B should the data continue to support a cataclysm, but the composition data doesn’t seem to support that, and the area is not indicative of a direct contact impact. Maybe some other ice age, who knows, but certainly a repetitive glacial lake drainage nexus need not be impact related. So the better approach is to take a closer look at Corossol crater.

  98. prokaryotes:

    Hank, i do not think it is valid to discount arguments from Nafeez Ahmed on an entirely different topic. What he does is to help bring awareness to the greatest threat in human history, to a broader audience and for that we should be thankful.

    Here is a solution focused movie from him

    The Crisis of Civilization

  99. prokaryotes:

    Extensive Dark Snow, Very Large Melt Lakes Visible Over West Slope of Greenland as Late Season Melt Pulse Continues http://robertscribbler.wordpress.com/2013/08/05/extensive-dark-snow-very-large-melt-lakes-visible-over-west-slope-of-greenland-as-late-season-melt-pulse-continues/

  100. Hank Roberts:

    see Jason Box’s website:

    Greenland high near-surface air temperature record set (Aug. 1)
    Too late now for 2013 to produce Greenland ice surface melting anywhere near as large as in 2012 (July 22)

  101. Hank Roberts:

    and there’s a report from Jason Box’s Greenland sampling trip, linked from the above, here:

    “… Jason Box and I flew wednesday with a large duck taped cooler of very expensive ice from Kangerlussuaq back to Copenhagen, where the cooler was quickly delivered to GEUS – the Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland . GEUS’s Dr. Marek Stibal will pull what he needs from the ice cores for biological sampling, and make arrangements to send the rest on to the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Los Angeles. There, Mckenzie Skiles of NASA will take what remains to extract and analyze impurities, especially from the 2012 melt layer, where we hope to find some clues to what darkened the Greenland ice that year, and contributed to the massive record melting, beyond anything previously observed….”

  102. prokaryotes:

    “Concerns of a Climate Scientist” New commentary from Scripps climate researcher Richard Somerville http://scrippsblogs.ucsd.edu/keelingcurve/concerns-of-a-climate-scientist-new-commentary-from-scripps-climate-researcher-richard-somerville/

  103. prokaryotes:

    Methane anomaly following record temperature and extensive late season extensive melt over West-Greenland ice sheet, https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=475113332584921&set=a.201065459989711.43923.196805450415712&type=1


    Extensive Dark Snow, Very Large Melt Lakes Visible Over West Slope of Greenland as Late Season Melt Pulse Continues

  104. Susan Anderson:

    Thanks to Gavin for his response. I would note that I am not a scientist and this is a science site, and occasionally somebody just has to say “down Fido”. I am not looking for a tall handsome stranger, but still collecting about methane, which seems complicated to me … fwiw.

    I was pointed to this for some basic facts, which will be beneath the level of almost everybody else in the discussion:

    So please, back to science …

  105. Killian:

    There are temperate zone clathrates where water temps are beyond anything envisioned by AGW for Arctic regions. It’s damn difficult to get clathrates to give up their goodies. If it were easy, the natural gas companies would have long since killed us by exploiting it.

    Temperate zone people in the Northern Hemisphere will be dead from the advance of tropical diseases or glowing from nukes used in The Great Food War long before we succumb to a giant Arctic fart.

    Comment by Jeffrey Davis — 5 Aug 2013 @ 10:11 AM

    Actually, clathrates stay stable or don’t via a combination of temperature and pressure. The deeper they are, the higher the temps can be. This is precisely why clathrates can exist all over the world, not just in the Arctic.

    When the balance between the two reaches a critical point, the clathrates can deteriorate. I was told via an e-mail exchange with a climate scientist in 2008 that it’s a bit of a binary: stable, then not. It’s a pretty critical threshold, apparently. In the Arctic, the temps have helped keep the shallow clathrates from melting more so than the pressure.

    Though Gavin has expressed doubts there actually are significant deposits shallow in the seabed on the Siberian shelf, I have little doubt. (It would be fabulous if he were correct.) If they are there on a shallow shelf and shallow in the seabed, then I expect the “alarmists” will once again be proven right.

  106. AndyL:

    Pielke Sr’s response to the AGU Statement on Climate Change appears to be a reasonable statement, at least to my uneducated and somewhat sceptical eye.
    Do the scientific community here accept his analysis of the state of climate science? Can I suggest ignoring his preamble about the process and focussing on his alternative statement.

  107. Hank Roberts:

    For anyone who doesn’t notice the sidebar listing “Inline Responses”
    those often come quite a while after someone posts a question.
    Gavin’s response to Susan is worth going back to read. Click it
    under her name, under the Inline Responses sidebar, and you’ll see it
    where it was added inline, below her questions posted 4 Aug 2013 at 11:26 AM

  108. David B. Benson:

    Not climate but
    Bizarre ‘Meteotsunami’ Stirred Waves in UK

  109. David B. Benson:

    Global Investigation Reveals True Scale of Ocean Warming: Species Changing Breeding Times, Shifting Homes
    “These results highlight the urgent need for governments around the globe to develop adaptive management plans to ensure the continued sustainability of the world’s oceans and the goods and services they provide to human society.”

  110. prokaryotes:

    Greenland Anomaly: Late Season Melt Pulse + Methane Emissions August 4th 2013 http://climatestate.com/2013/08/05/greenland-anomaly-late-season-melt-pulse-methane-emissions-august-4th-2013/

    I assembled a video about the recent Greenland ice melt. Looking for commentary input on the Methane emissions…

  111. Hank Roberts:

    > If they are there … shallow in the seabed, then ….


    Nobody’s saying the stuff’s not there.
    Of course they’ll be shown to have been right if it’s found there.
    Any discovery will be evidence, as vague as the assertions have been.

    Because there hasn’t been much evidence yet. That’s the point.

    Evidence is hard to come by.
    It’s also likely commercially interesting.
    If the petro companies haven’t already got lots of information, they’re slipping. They won’t be telling though.

    Eventually either the evidence will bubble up, or the scientists will publish what they know.

    But it doesn’t much matter, if we stay a few steps -back- from that particular precipice, don’t burn enough fossil fuel to have that area get warm enough to be a problem, and instead put the money and time to better use.

    Because that’s the only answer. Stop burning fossil carbon.
    Who says otherwise?

  112. David B. Benson:

    Assessing the Reliability of Complex Models: Mathematical and Statistical Foundations of Verification, Validation and Uncertainty Quantification
    National Research Council
    National Academies Press, 2012.
    ISBN 13:978–0–309–25634–6

    Is this available online?

  113. sidd:

    Re: Submarine Methane Clathrate

    I wonder where ESAS fits in this picture:


    The image indicates that hydrates off Eel River in N. California, Nigeria,Cascadia, in the Mid Atlantic Trench of Guatemala, and the Japan Sea are closest to phase stability line.

    I wonder how deep the hydrates under ESAS bed are. And how large the warming pulse from above will be. It takes about a tenth of the heat to destabilize methane clathrate as it does to melt equivalent volume of ice.


  114. prokaryotes:

    To assess the broad range of possibilities when it comes to methane content in general from the Arctic, a very good resource can be found here (repost from 2010)

    Download the 50 MB PDF and search keyword “methane”

    Quick excerpt on Methane “Methane in the Arctic Circlehttp://climatestate.com/magazine/2013/08/methane-in-the-arctic-circle/

  115. Steve Fish:

    Re- Comment by Killian — 5 Aug 2013 @ 4:20 PM

    Your opinions about scientific research findings are worthless without some supporting citations. Provide some science. Otherwise, click the link to Gavin’s inline provided by Hank Roberts — 5 Aug 2013 @ 5:17 PM


  116. owl905:

    @106 AndyL re: Dr. Pielke Sr’s response to the AGU
    “Do the scientific community here” There’s no ‘scientific community’ spokesman to respond. Here’s mho. His alternative basically wants tentative uncertainties and complexity issues acknowledged in the official platform. He wants it watered down.
    From here, it doesn’t work. Sure, do more research on clouds, solar cycles, and multi-decadal ocean currents. And absolutely, drag around the ever-popular “models fail at granular levels” complaint. Maybe add total global rainbow incidence to the hydrology cycle subroutine.
    But Dr. Pielke’s statement fails to acknowledge that there is overwhelming evidence of a global GHG-pollution problem that is accelerating – his statement leads to ‘so what?’ for a reaction. The AGU statement focuses on AGW. The official statement is not political exclusion, it’s aimed at the heart of the target. Dr. Pielke’s response lacks the attention and focus the pollution problem demands. Dr. Pielke continues to reject the position that the warming of the last half century has been primarily driven by the GHG pollution problem.

  117. patrick:

    107 Exactly, & if anyone did read the response at 65 but didn’t bother to read the linked post on “…the Perils of Extrapolation” [Guest Commentary group-posted 11 April 2012], it partly says:

    “In summary, we think that expressing concern about the future of the Arctic by highlighting only the earliest estimates of an ice-free Arctic is misdirected. Instead, serious effort should be devoted to making detailed seasonal-to-interannual (initial-value) predictions with careful evaluations of their skill and better estimates of the climate-forced projections and their uncertainties, both of which are of considerable value to society. Some effort should also target the formulation of applicable and answerable questions that can help focus modeling efforts. We believe that substantially skillful prediction [as opposed to 'prediction by extrapolation'] can only be achieved with models, and therefore effort should be given to improving predictive modeling activities. The best role of observations in prediction is to improve, test, and initialize models.”

    Must be practicing climate scientists or something.

  118. MARodger:

    MLO CO2 figures for July show a continued high annual increase. The average annual increase over the last 6 months tops 2.8ppm which for ENSO neutral conditions is a bit extraordinary when compared to previous values.
    And the opening days for August show little signs of a return to lower annual increases this month.
    So what’s happening?

  119. patrick:

    “Climate change is a very polarized issue in the United States, a very polarized conversation in the United States, and people are very social animals. We cannot live alone, we must live in groups. And therefore if you threaten my ability to be a part of my group, to be a part of my faith based organization, my political organization, you threaten my ability to be a human being–my basic survival: you threaten my ability to be a part of the group. …

    “The research base in risk communication and hazards communication is science based…looking at, when people are threatened, what happens to the conversation in the brain…

    “The moment that you introduce a threat, it moves the discussion from the frontal lobe–which is where we have rational discourse–to the back of our brain, which is a more primitive processing center. And when you do that you create stress, emotion, and a great deal of mental noise.

    “So remember: anytime you’re talking to somebody who has an emotional response to what you say–you now have to get through these three things [stress, emotion, mental noise] before they can hear anything that you say.

    “And remember, at the same time, when you’re having an emotional debate with somebody, you’re going to the primitive place as well–that you are no longer engaged in a reasoned discourse when you feel emotional about what happens (when you’re getting beat up).

    “So I want to talk about a very specific kind of conversation that we have as climate scientists–and that is…’Critical Conversations’–those times when if you don’t talk about climate change, a desired outcome is not going to occur…”

    –Karen Raucher, “…Risk Communication..,” AGU Chapman Conference on Climate Science Communication thread (8 July), second video posted.

  120. Nafeez:

    Hank Roberts:

    You mention my work on international security related to 9/11. Anyone who cares to know more about me and my background (I am in international security broadly defined) can check out my personal website here http://www.nafeezahmed.com. My book, The War on Freedom, was used by the 9/11 Commission as it raises questions about the wide-ranging failures that facilitated the attacks.

    Onto the other ‘point’ you raise: You note my citation of a 2009 Science commentary by Nisbet. You then cherry-pick one sentence to suggest that the commentary is all about the predominant role of wetlands in methane emissions.

    This is incorrect. The piece I link to by Nisbet argues quite compellingly that Petrenko’s conclusions (the main report in same Science issue) that wetlands were a main driver of the methane increase are not the whole story. The reason I cite it is because Nisbet points to important analogies between the end of the Younger Dryas and current Arctic events which complement Petrenko’s basic findings – namely that even if methane emissions from wetlands played a huge role (which they did) in this process, the initial trigger for these releases is not clear, and Nisbet argues that it could well be methane clathrates due to warming Arctic dynamics, that played an equally fundamental role in either triggering the process, or accelerating it once started:

    “Although the new 14C results do not elucidate the nature of the initial trigger that ended the Younger Dryas, they suggest that much of the new methane sustaining the warming came from wetlands, at least in the earlier part of the warming event…
    A possible explanation for the sudden end of the Younger Dryas is that, at a time of high Arctic insolation, an initial outburst of methane—perhaps from a geological source such as methane clathrates—triggered global warming, initiating both strong wetland emission in the tropics and north (8), and further hydrate responses as the thermal shock penetrated the permafrost (9, 10), freeing methane from decomposing clathrate hydrates and releasing gas pools trapped beneath them…
    δD results (5) have been used to argue against the hypothesis that an outburst of methane from clathrate hydrates drove the change. However, although marine hydrates supplied by gas from deep geological sources are enriched in deuterium relative to terrestrial methane sources, shallow hydrate and decaying permafrost sources can be depleted. Moreover, the interpretation of the D/H signature during the decades of most sharply rising atmospheric methane is complex, because the global methane budget is not in equilibrium.
    The jury thus remains out on the initial trigger…
    There are clear analogies with the modern Arctic, especially because global warming is expected to be strongest in the Arctic. Within the next few decades, reduced summer ice cover, earlier springs, and later freeze-up may cause radical change in Arctic wetland and permafrost regions. There was a sudden decrease in ice cover in summer 2007 (16). Very warm summer weather, possibly driven by global warming, has occurred recently in the Arctic. This may trigger new wetland sources (17, 18) as well as fossil and thermokarst methane emissions (12, 19).
    Could the Arctic be preparing to shift gear again? If a shift on the scale and rapidity of past changes were to happen tomorrow— including intensified methane emissions from wetlands, decaying permafrost, and hydrate breakdown on Arctic continental margins and slopes—then the consequences for humanity could be very severe. Far from the Arctic, crops could fail and nations crumble. It is thus essential to decipher what took place in the past.”

    Nisbet has looked at this issue in more detail elsewhere (2002). I only point to this to suggest that paleoclimate data doesn’t rule out this sort of scenario.

  121. Bart Verheggen:

    I wrote a reply to Warren Pearce’s Guardian article (crediting Anthony Watts as the champion of the scientific method) here:

  122. Hank Roberts:

    Those setting up to drill must have information about whether — and where — shallow hydrates are found. Has anyone asked them?

    Sidd posted a good source for what’s known — but it’s ancient, US-centered:

    So who has the maps for the Arctic? These people ought to know, have those of you in the UK found anyone who’s got similar mapped data? Maybe these folks?

    Heriot Watt University
    Heriot Watt Institute of Petroleum Engineering
    Centre for Gas Hydrate Research

    That page says in part:

    “Why are Gas Hydrates Important?

    “Gas hydrates are of great importance for a variety of reasons (Figure-1). In offshore hydrocarbon drilling and production operations, gas hydrates cause major, and potentially hazardous flow assurance problems.

    “Naturally occuring methane clathrates are of great significance in their potential for as [sic] strategic energy reserve, the possibilities for CO2 disposal by sequestration, … and long-term considerations with respect to hydrate stability, methane (a potent greenhouse gas) release, and global climate change.

    “CO2 hydrate is thermodynamically more stable than methane hydrate, so the possibility exists for sequestration of CO2 into existing seafloor clathrates, whereby yielding methane….”

    Has anyone published on the economics of pumping CO2 into a zone where there are barely-stable methane hydrates? The CO2 would form clathrate, while bumping out the methane as gas. Even if the energy/economic numbers aren’t favorable, subsidizing that would keep a lot of equipment and people busy for decades and their stockholders happy.

  123. Steve Fish:

    Re- Comment by patrick — 6 Aug 2013 @ 6:57 AM

    From the Raucher quote- “…it moves the discussion from the frontal lobe–which is where we have rational discourse–to the back of our brain, which is a more primitive processing center.”

    This type of pop psychology mumbo jumbo greatly reduces the apparent veracity of anything else said. Not a good way to communicate science.


  124. prokaryotes:

    Methane Hydrate – Ice on Fire (extensive overview)

    Flow Test from Methane Hydrate Layers Ends: From June to July, the pressured core samples were acquired from methane hydrate layers. In this operation, a flow test through dissociation of methane hydrate was begun on March 12 after the preparatory works including drilling and installing equipments. JOGMEC has been conducting gas production until now. However, it ended the flow test today on March 18 since changes in well situation, including tentative malfunction of the pump to draw water for depressurization and simultaneous increase in sand production, have been seen and a rough weather was forecasted.


  125. MARodger:

    AndyL @106 asks of Pielke Sr’s AGU statement..
    Pielke Sr was the sole dissenting voice on the AGU’s ”15 person panel” and was unable to persuade any of his fellow panellists to his own view (although for some reason only 14 panellists are listed in the link).
    Because as of last year Pielke Sr has lain down the mantle of internet blogger (and it seems handed the task over to the Lord High Denier of Wattsupia), his alternative statement has to be sought either on the planet Wattsupia or from his own correspondent Judith Curry. (I find that according to google, the only other mention of Pielk Sr’s alternative statement over the entire length and breadth of the interweb is AndyL’s comment here @106.)
    AndyL may feel Pielke Sr’s statement is reasonable. Myself I would argue that Pielke Sr’s dissenting message is seriously unreasonable, it being so poorly reasoned. (So I think I’m not far from owl905 @116.)
    The official AGU statement (which Pielke Sr objects to) is basically saying that AGW is real & is responsible for most of the temperature rise over the last 140 years. AGW is harmful and will become more so. Uncertainty exists but AGW is not inconsequential. Substantial emissions cuts are required to mitigate the impacts as well as adaptation to cope with climate changes that are now unavoidable.

    In this context is Pielke’s reply “reasonable”?
    Here follows an honest precis of his statement (with my bracketed annotation, these being ‘less than respectful,’ but no less than the statement deserves).
    Climate has always changed but now mankind is creating significant (rather than harmful) change although nature and feedbacks will continue as major effects in coming decades (and then stop perhaps? Nature & feedbacks?). Human forcings aren’t natural (yes!), creating radiative forcings but these and surface temperature are “grossly inadequate metrics” for diagnosis of the effects that matter to society – ie” circulation changes on multi-decadal time scales”(Oscillations? Or is that a ‘bad’ word?) – where “any possible alteration by human climate forcings is a major concern.“ (A “major concern” from a ‘possibility’? Sounds like the precautionary principle.) Monitoring OHC is important (apparently so, and “in Joules”).
    There is much uncertainty. After CO2, black carbon is the second largest positive AGW agent (so bigger than methane?) and sulfates are negative (and, yes, difficult to quantify, thus uncertain). The importance (or perhaps their lack of importance) of decadal and multi-decadal natural effects is uncertain. Climate models over-predict forcings & under-predict Arctic melt (so we’ll have to forget using models).
    Policy decisions must be effective regarding all this uncertainty (which is a big ask outside the precautionary principle). The majority statement does not accurately summarise “our understanding of climate change issues” (this here could be use of the royal “our”) and is thus not effective. Basically, addressing solely GHG emissions is inadequate for reducing the vulnerability of both society & the environment to all human-caused-&-natural risks from climate and from other environmental and social threats (so until the ivory trade, land mines and polio are history, why all this fixation with reducing CO2 emissions?).

  126. Hank Roberts:

    By the way, from the USGS site Sidd found, they say at

    “Gas hydrates have been recovered from offshore sediment worldwide and from total depths (water depth plus subseabed depth) ranging from 500 m to nearly 6,000 m. Samples have come from subbottom depths ranging from 0 to 400 m.”

    So, no evidence there for hydrates shallower than 500m. Where’s that reported?

    The Eel River’s the most likely problem, on that USGS chart, old as it is.

  127. Doug:

    Warning..weather story ahead.

    I normally wouldn’t post a heat wave story on a climate blog, but this one is extraordinary for it’s effect on hundreds of millions of people. http://www.wunderground.com/blog/weatherhistorian/incredible-heat-wave-in-china-greenland-record

  128. prokaryotes:

    AGU: Human-induced climate change requires urgent action http://www.agu.org/sci_pol/pdf/position_statements/AGU_Climate_Statement_new.pdf

  129. Doug:

    Gavin (or anyone else who might have some insight),

    The heat wave in China has gotten me to think about something again. How hot can these heat waves become? Is it reasonable to expect record summertime temperatures much higher than they are today in many parts of the World? We live in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and the temperature record is 107 degrees here. Gavin, if you were a betting man, do you think Albuquerque will see 120 degrees in the next say, thirty years? 125, 130? If I can get a sense of what some of the thinking is on what the probabilities are of just how high these temperatures (in Albuquerque in particular) can go, I would appreciate it. The answer could affect whether we decide to move eventually to a cooler climate. Sorry for the self absorbed question, but I think these are questions that affect everybody.

  130. prokaryotes:

    More weather..

    Increased Methane emissions from summer Monsoon http://climatestate.com/magazine/2013/08/increased-methane-emissions-from-summer-monsoon/

    Ocean Heat Dome Steams Coastal China: Shanghai to Near Very Dangerous 35 Degree Celsius Wet Bulb Temperatures This Week http://robertscribbler.wordpress.com/2013/08/06/ocean-heat-dome-steams-coastal-china-shanghai-to-near-very-dangerous-35-degree-celsius-wet-bulb-temperatures-this-week/#comment-4156

  131. patrick:

    123 Steve Fish: I suggest you see the video. Karen Raucher’s talk doesn’t waste time. It’s about critical conversations, not anatomy. It’s about times “when if you don’t talk about climate change, a desired outcome is not going to occur…” Plus, it’s about avoidance: when it’s hardest, we’d just rather not.

    Raucher’s meaning is clear, her psychology is good, and her expression is helpful. Myself, I think about it in terms of ‘flight-or-fight’ responses and adrenal hormones vs. creative communication responses and socializing hormones. Either way it’s based on neuroscience.

    It’s not what you demean it to be: popular psychology and mumbo jumbo. It’s current and it’s valid.

    It’s science-based via MRI studies, she says. I left that out. She says why climate change is a ‘wicked problem.’ I left that out. And I left out this:

    “…You could threaten my ability to be a good decision maker when you talk about climate change. As we know good decision making is the basis of our society. Our economy is based on the idea that everybody is going to make the right decision, a good decision about what they buy…how they act.”

    And I left out her pointers on what prepares scientists to make good decisions.

  132. Killian:

    Steve Fish: Do you truly not know how clathrates work?

  133. Killian:

    Samples have come from subbottom depths ranging from 0 to 400 m.

    So, no evidence there for hydrates shallower than 500m.

    Comment by Hank Roberts

    The issue Gavin raised was about subbottom clathrates on the Siberian Shelf. You conflate the issue of total depth and subbottom depth above.

    As Fishy asked, your link offers a chart that shows pressure can be quite low, indeed, if temperature is at or below freezing. http://pubs.usgs.gov/of/1996/of96-272/fig1.html This indicates that it is clearly possible for clathrates to exist at very shallow subbottom depths – is zero not shallow enough for you? – in the Arctic. Given much of the sediment there was laid down during the previous inter-glacials, and the Arctic has remained pretty cold during those times with water levels rising and falling, seems to me it would be odd if there weren’t a fairly large amount of shallow subbottom clathrates in the Siberian zone.

    I didn’t see where the sampling sites were in that report, but back when that was written, there weren’t many drill rigs in the Arctic Ocean, but they must have found something, or thought it likely, or they wouldn’t have tried to drill there last year. Wasn’t that the first rig up there, in the water that is?

    [Response: Clathrates are not stable at 50m water depth and zero degrees (see figure from the Archer paper: panel 3 and mentally raise the sea floor). For temperatures around that level, you need to be below 200m or so. - gavin]

  134. Hank Roberts:

    > conflate the issue of total depth and subbottom depth above.

    Me? You misread.

    No, Killian, that’s a direct quote from the source at USGS.

    Total depth is below sea level.
    Subbottom depth is below mud level.

    > seems to me it would be odd
    But that’s not evidence of existence, it’s evidence of opinion.

  135. prokaryotes:

    A Thesis in Geosciences by Xiaoli Liu

    Hydrate coexists with liquid water in regions of low gas flux. In this type of hydrate system, although a temperature increase can release a large amount of gas from hydrate, the dissociated gas will move upward and refreeze as hydrate at shallower depths. Thus the dissociation process does not directly affect the methane emission to the 101 ocean. The dissociated free gas can escape to the ocean only when the surface warming is so high that no hydrate can remain stable at the seafloor. (2) Massive release of methane from gas hydrate depends on its proximity to the three-phase boundary. Where methane flux is high, there is a three-phase zone from the base of the hydrate stability zone to the seafloor. The three-phase zone increases the amount of hydrates located at the three-phase boundary; thus it can rapidly respond to environmental changes. Hydrate dissociation within the three-phase zone is regulated by changes in salinity required for three-phase equilibrium with temperature. The dissociated free gas can be released to the ocean via the three phase zone, even though hydrates do not completely dissociate during a small warming event. We estimate that a 4°C increase in seafloor temperature can release 70% of methane stored in the hydrate system that is initially at three-phase equilibrium, providing a mechanism for rapid methane release http://www.beg.utexas.edu/geofluids/Theses/xiaoli_liu_hydrate_thesis.pdf

    Locked greenhouse gas in Arctic sea may be ‘climate canary’ Undersea methane hydrate deposit is the shallowest yet found
    Zoë Corbyn
    07 December 2012

    The trapped gas deposit is located in an area of small conical hills on the ocean floor just 290 metres below sea level. Before the discovery, the shallowest known marine gas-hydrate deposits were found in the Gulf of Mexico and in the vicinity of the Svalbard Islands at depths of around 400 m, says Charles Paull, a senior scientist at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute in Moss Landing, California, who presented the work on Thursday at the annual meeting of the American Geophysical Union in San Francisco, California http://www.nature.com/news/locked-greenhouse-gas-in-arctic-sea-may-be-climate-canary-1.11988

    An accurate model to predict the thermodynamic stability of methane hydrate and methane solubility in marine environments
    Rui Sun, Zhenhao Duan 2006
    Comparison of the prediction of this model with experimental data indicates that this model can predict the three-phase equilibrium condition of methane hydrate in seawater and in porous media with high accuracy. Salts dissolved in seawater and the capillary force arising from small pores increase the pressure needed for H–L–V equilibrium for a given temperature. Although there exist only a few experimental data demonstrating the accuracy of the prediction of this model for H–L equilibrium, we believe that this model can reliably predict methane solubility and cage occupancy at H–L equilibrium, since accurate thermodynamic methods are used in this model. The prediction of this model shows that: (1) dissolved salts and the capillary force decrease the P–T range for methane hydrate stability; (2) in H–L two-phase region, increasing the salt concentration will decrease the solubility of methane needed to form methane hydrate. The methane solubility will decrease about 10% in 35‰ of seawater; (3) the capillary force increases methane solubility in liquid at H–L equilibrium; (4) within methane hydrate stable zone, CH4 solubility in liquid increases with depth http://www.geochem-model.org/archives/publications/52-CG_244_248.pdf

    Submarine pingoes: Indicators of shallow gas hydrates in a pockmark at Nyegga, Norwegian Sea
    The discovery of up to 1 m high sediment mounds, here called ‘hydrate pingoes,’ on the mid-Norwegian margin adds to the diversity of seabed seep-related features. We have previously documented anomalous ridges of methane-derived authigenic carbonates, together with a distinct fauna. We interpret the mounds as submarine pingoes, formed as a result of gas hydrate sub-surface build-up at specific focused fluid flow locations. The process is dynamic in the sense that the pingoes grow and collapse over time due to probable cycles of freezing and thawing of hydrates in the shallow sub-surface. Although there seems to be a close relationship to the adjacent carbonate ridges, it is still unknown which processes link the two phenomena (carbonate production and pingo formation). We suggest that the pingoes manifest a close interplay between seawater, dissolved gases migrating up from depth, gas hydrate formation and release of melt-water (dissociation fluids). This is also in agreement with geochemical results obtained from shallow cores showing the presence of abundant hydrocarbon gases in the sediments. Our findings imply that pingoes can be used as seep localizers, and probably also manifest the whereabouts of shallow gas hydrates. The pingoes emphasise the dynamic nature of pockmarks, and provide information that should be taken into account for engineering purposes. However, much more fieldwork is needed at locations such as G11 before the true mechanisms of complex pockmarks and pingoes are understood http://folk.uio.no/hensven/Hovland_Svensen_MarGeol_06.pdf

  136. prokaryotes:

    When freshwater flows into the Arctic Ocean from rivers and melting land ice, it does not mix well with the salty sea water, but sits near the surface and insulates the sea ice from warmer Pacific and Atlantic water beneath. All the main sources of freshwater entering the Arctic Ocean are increasing: river discharge, rainfall and melt water from land ice. Calculations estimate that an extra 7700 km3 of freshwater – equivalent to one metre of water over the entire land surface of Australia – has been added to the Arctic Ocean in recent years. It is not known what will happen to this freshwater (see section 6.2). However, largescale ocean currents, such as the Atlantic thermohaline circulation that brings warm water to northwest Europe, are sensitive to freshwater flows from the Arctic, and can affect climate and rainfall patterns on a continental scale. file:///C:/Users/Nano/Downloads/ci2011swipa.pdf (page 82)

  137. prokaryotes:

    For above quote, here the correct link http://www.amap.no/documents/doc/arctic-climate-issues-2011-changes-in-arctic-snow-water-ice-and-permafrost/129

  138. Steve Fish:

    Re- Comment by patrick — 6 Aug 2013 @ 3:22 PM

    I am not criticizing Keren Raucher’s risk analysis, just her communication skills. She proclaims the science base for her risk analysis, but completely drops the ball when talking about the psychology/neuroscience connection. What she said about brain function is so bad that it is not even wrong. It is not up to date. The frontal lobe is not the center for rational discourse. Human mental activity does not move to a more primitive area in the “back of the brain” (wherever that is) from threat. PET and functional MRI cannot support these simplistic statements. As I stated, this silliness can make her more knowledgeable analysis suspect. Further, your fight or flight and socializing hormone comments are laughable.

    In the past there has been quite a lot of talk here about experts pontificating outside of their area of expertise and it is an unfortunate and embarrassing trait. Raucher should have just described the behaviors of people during rational versus emotional discussion. If you think she is correct, provide some scientific references (peer reviewed please).


  139. Kevin McKinney:

    #123–”This type of pop psychology mumbo jumbo greatly reduces the apparent veracity of anything else said. Not a good way to communicate science.”

    I disagree. The expression of the concept may have been in ‘popular’ language but the concepts are clear and supported by a *lot* of research, going back at least 50 years. FMRIs can image these sorts of changes in real time–and you can bet that there’s been a fair bit of research doing just that. So don’t dismiss this information.

  140. Steve Fish:

    Re- Comment by Killian — 6 Aug 2013 @ 3:28 PM and 6 Aug 2013 @ 3:48 PM

    You say- “As Fishy asked…”

    I say- Making fun of my name is childish. Please refer to me by the name I provide.

    You say- “Do you truly not know how clathrates work?”

    My response- I don’t but, obviously, neither do you. What I do know is that the scientists who develop and analyze data related to methane are best able to talk about the effects of warming on ocean floor deposits. Your inexpert extrapolations from scientific data are just noise.

    As usual, you are unable to provide citations to support your overblown ideas. Steve

  141. Hank Roberts:

    “Paull is now planning a more detailed survey of the structure [290m depth], along with another two identified in the same area but at deeper depths to better track any changes related to global warming.”
    that link Prokaryotes posted above is to Nature

    Paull, C. K. et al. Active seafloor gas vents on the Shelf and upper Slope in Canadian Beaufort Sea. Abstract presented at the Fall Meeting of the American Geophysical Union, 3–7 December, San Francisco, California (2012).

    It’ll be interesting to see if that’s sediment source carbon (at the last peak ice, that would have been, maybe, half as deep as it is now under sea level, and it’d still have some measurable C14 if it’s from biological sources back then). Or if it’s mineral carbon or really old fossil carbon with no C14. What other measurements would they probably be looking at?

    Seems shallow enough and accessible enough to start taking measurements toward having a baseline.

    Unless someone tries to drill a hole in it, I guess…..

  142. Tom:

    Doug at #127, the weather in Eastern China might even be higher than reported. By law, manual workers have to down tools when it hits 40C. China has an above average number of 39C days.

  143. Steve Fish:

    Re- Comment by Kevin McKinney — 6 Aug 2013 @ 8:32 PM

    This silliness sounds very like non-expert comments about climate science. This is an area of research that I know something about. Early on, my naive comments on neuroscience research caused my thesis adviser to tell me- “The brain she is not so simple.”

    You are wrong. Otherwise, provide some peer reviewed science. Steve

  144. Killian:

    [Response: Clathrates are not stable at 50m water depth and zero degrees... For temperatures around that level, you need to be below 200m or so. - gavin]

    Exactly the point. But clathrates tend to have a real itchy trigger finger and can destabilize abruptly when that combo of temperature and pressure isn’t just so, no? This is exactly the problem. In such shallow waters, the temps need to remain at sub-zero, but the infiltration of warmer waters makes this a difficult condition to maintain.

    From Romanovsky.

    What we know now is that during glacial periods, formation of permafrost on the arctic shelf served to block free gas supplied from subsurface gas and oil areas. The permafrost was forming – it was impenetrable and thick, and in these favorable conditions, gas and water turn into hydrates. When the last glacial cycle turned into the interglacial, all the Arctic shelves were covered with sea water. The temperature at the bottom of the sea on these shelves that had been –15 °C to –25 °C, during the last glacial period (50,000 years ago) increased to –1.8 °C or warmer. The permafrost started to thaw from both sides – from the top down because of the chemistry of salty water, and from the bottom up as the thermal process also affected hydrates as well. The question is, if hydrates decomposed at – say 500 meters – under permafrost still there, will the gas reach the surface of the earth (bottom of ocean) and, if so, will it be released in the water and then into the atmosphere? This has to be further researched, but there is some evidence that permafrost is thawing from both sides, and there are some methane concentrations in the sea water which exceed by one or two orders of magnitude the equilibrium concentration of methane that we would expect in sea water. This means that there is some source, and we see these methane increases not only at the bottom sea water but at the sea surface. It means there is some methane coming into the water and going through the water and probably being released into the atmosphere… Given that permafrost on the shelf is warming now at least –2 °C or warmer, and given the history of sediments (marine sediments for some period of time, then terrestrial sediment for another period of time, then again marine sediments because of the glacier/inter-glacial cycles in the hundreds of thousands of years), there could be no ice in the marine salty sediments. Thus, there could be no problems for gas to go through this warm permafrost already thawing, through the tens to hundreds of meters of permafrost, if these pathways continue all the way to the ground surface.

    The issue seems to be, basically, two-fold: Are there pathways for deep gas to be escaping the sediment and are there hydrates shallow enough to be thawing via pathways that allow warming to infiltrate downward?

    Of course, I interpret the high methane readings in the Arctic and the documented plumes in Arctic waters to be a resounding yes. But, even if these are biogenic, at the rates we are seeing is there still not reason to be concerned?

    We don’t need but a few percent of combined seabed and land-based carbon to get into the atmosphere, so isn’t all of this rather academic? Are we not already putting ourselves and all biota at serious risk?

  145. Killian:

    Hank: You missed it.



  146. patrick:

    138 Steve Fish: What Raucher does is pragmatic–that’s the first thing she says. I was excited to hear about the new statement from the AGU. What better than to quote something re: getting to critical conversations?

    The brain is not so simple, I agree (143). I don’t care for the dictionary term and encyclopedia entry, ‘flight-or-fight.’ But how come everybody gets it? What I like to think about hormone function is irrelevant. So let’s agree on that. The mumbo is mine. But it’s not jumbo.


    My adviser said: Don’t laugh unless your belly shakes. It’s not healthy.

    On the rational equipment in the room, Raucher says:

    “If you are making a good decision (you would be a scientist, which most of you are) you’d use statistics and probability; you’d be able to employ the scientific method; you might make a hypothesis about climate change, gather information about it, have a feedback loop, …you have this ability to apply basic scientific literacy to the problem, and you’d have a global sense of time.

    Then she talks about how stress, emotion, and mental noise can jam desired outcomes.

  147. Kevin McKinney:

    #143–Steve, first search result, elapsed time about 15 seconds:


    Neuroimagingstudies with positron emission tomography (PET) and functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) have begun to describe the functional neuroanatomy of emotion. Taken separately, specific studies vary in task dimensions and in type(s) of emotion studied and are limited by statistical power and sensitivity.

    By examining findings across studies, we sought to determine if common or segregated patterns of activations exist across various emotional tasks. We reviewed 55 PET and fMRI activation studies (yielding 761 individual peaks) which investigated emotion in healthy subjects. Peak activation coordinates were transformed into a standard space and plotted onto canonical 3-D brain renderings.

    We divided the brain into 20 nonoverlapping regions, and characterized each region by its responsiveness across individual emotions (positive, negative, happiness, fear, anger, sadness, disgust), to different induction methods (visual, auditory, recall/imagery), and in emotional tasks with and without cognitive demand.

    Our review yielded the following summary observations: (1) The medial prefrontal cortex had a general role in emotional processing; (2) fear specifically engaged the amygdala; (3) sadness was associated with activity in the subcallosal cingulate; (4) emotional induction by visual stimuli activated the occipital cortex and the amygdala; (5) induction by emotional recall/imagery recruited the anterior cingulate and insula; (6) emotional tasks with cognitive demand also involved the anterior cingulate and insula.

    This review provides a critical comparison of findings across individual studies and suggests that separate brain regions are involved in different aspects of emotion.

    (Line breaks added for ease of reading online.)

    The study (or meta-study) is from 2002, by Phan et al. (a bunch of U. Michigan folks) and was published in “NeuroImage”, an Elsevier journal I’ve never heard of (but that last part means nothing.)

    Now, before you mention it, I will: the prefrontal cortex, the very first brain area mentioned as having “a general role in emotional processing” is not, as its name would tend to imply, at ‘the back of the brain’ as Raucher said, though a number of the other structures mentioned are. (Given the centrality of anger to the communication issues we’re talking about, and its association with the amygdala, I might have used the broad-stroke characterization ‘at the base of the brain’ instead.)

    The larger point remains, however: the emotionally-activated brain is not functionally the same as the brain which is operating largely in ‘cognitive mode.’ And recalling that, and using that knowledge to one’s advantage under [social] pressure can be highly advantageous in communication, particularly of emotionally-laden ideas. (Actually, I’ve been working on that quite a bit over the last few years, myself–not the theory; the practice.)

    I don’t recall saying, or suggesting, that anything about this was ‘simple’–although the ‘popularized’ language I noted is simplified, to be sure. But perhaps not inappropriately so, in context.

  148. Radge Havers:

    Wow. On the neuro stuff, some interesting defensive reactions. Worth looking inward and evaluating vis a vis communication. And for the record, if it were me, I’d be approaching Steve Fish with carefully worded, humble questions before even thinking about switching to lecture mode.

    Put your antennae up.

  149. Steve Fish:

    Reply to comments by: Kevin McKinney — 7 Aug 2013 @ 7:11 AM, and patrick — 7 Aug 2013 @ 6:47 AM

    Kevin, your citation does not support anything like what Raucher said.

    A question for both you guys- If you were listening to an expert medical talk about some specific treatment and no matter how excellent the main presentation, if the scientist/physician used the example of the impending killer methane clathrate bomb in the Great White North permafrost as a truth to support their main contention, do you think this would strengthen or weaken the presentation?

    One of the several key points for effective scientific presentation skills is- provide no distractions. I taught this course to Ph.D. students for many years.


  150. prokaryotes:

    Australia’s John Connor discusses findings from the latest NOAA: State of the Climate Report http://climatestate.com/2013/08/07/australias-john-connor-discusses-findings-from-the-latest-noaa-state-of-the-climate-report/

  151. Kevin McKinney:

    #148–Radge, if you’re referring to my #147, I certainly don’t mean to ‘lecture.’ Steve did ask for a study, so–.

    And subjectively, I don’t *think* I’m defensive on this–though one of the hallmarks of defensiveness is that it’s generally obvious to everyone else first!

    I don’t know anything about Steve’s background; you seem to be implying that he has a lot of expertise in ‘the neuro stuff.’ In that case, I can understand a framing of this whereby he cringes at a ‘dumbing down’ of subject matter near and dear to his heart, whereas I’m in support of what I perceive as a useful behavioral strategy–one which I have a certain amount of practical experience with. By extension I also support what I see as a simple, broad-strokes characterization of the brain anatomy involved.

    But, for the record, I cheerfully renounce any claims to high expertise here, as well as any intent to ‘lecture.’

  152. Icarus62:

    The concern over a methane emergency seems to be based on the more general concern that we could set off self-sustaining feedbacks which won’t stop until they’re played out – such as all the permafrost having thawed and decomposed, all the ice sheets having melted etc. Is there any evidence for self-sustaining feedbacks in the palaeoclimate record? Could today’s climate state and rate of warming make them particularly likely? How would we know if we had already passed ‘the point of no return’?

  153. Hank Roberts:

    > 135, the last reference to pingoes
    is http://folk.uio.no/hensven/Hovland_Svensen_MarGeol_06.pdf

    The post quotes a description from that, but omits mention of the depth.
    Here’s more from the same cite:

    “…. A total of four complex pockmarks, named: A, C, G8, and G11 were investigated in 2003 (Hovland et al., 2005). The pockmarks are located at water depths between 600
    and 750 m ….
    “… On 2D-seismic records, the pockmarks are seen to occur immediately above vertical ‘chimneys’
    or pipes (also called ‘wipeout’ zones, and ‘blow-out pipes’), which extend down to and in some cases beyond the BSR, about 200 m sub seafloor ….”

    The word “shallow” there is in contrast to the nearby abyss at 3000m depth (the Storiegga slide is near the study site, where the continental shelf collapsed).

    This 600-750m depth is far deeper than what “methane emergency” people mean by “shallow hydrates”

  154. Chuck Hughes:

    Question: Is Steve Fish in any way related to or associated with FishOutofWater who posts climate related information on Dailykos.com? I figure they’re not the same person but wanted to ask.

    I know who the moderators on this site are of course and a few others on here who have been kind enough to respond to my questions. I’m trying to assimilate a list of reliable sources for my own personal study of Climate Change and I like to know who people are and if their research is published somewhere. I happen to be using my real name on this site but I know a lot of folks don’t do that on the interwebs. Thanks

  155. prokaryotes:

    Icarus62 #152 wrote = “The concern over a methane emergency seems to be based on the more general concern that we could set off self-sustaining feedbacks which won’t stop until they’re played out – such as all the permafrost having thawed and decomposed, all the ice sheets having melted etc. Is there any evidence for self-sustaining feedbacks in the palaeoclimate record?”

    What is the general concern? Actually the general public has no clue about any potential – is my best guess.

    The main problem is that we aim for all deposits on current trajectory – an ice free planet.

    Even with today known methane hydrate located below 270 meters

    “The Arctic is thought to be undergoing some of the most dramatic effects of climate change anywhere in the world. And this particular deposit is just within what scientists call the ‘methane hydrate stability zone’, the range of pressure and temperature at which gas hydrates are stable. In this region, the stability zone begins at a depth of about 270 m, above which sea temperatures are too warm to ensure the methane remains locked in its water-molecule cage” http://climatestate.com/magazine/2013/08/methane-in-the-arctic-circle/

    What if the new freshwater currents drive warmer water into the deep ocean?

    Quote’s from “A Looming Climate Shift: Will Ocean Heat Come Back to Haunt us?”:
    “A climate model-based study, Meehl (2011), predicted that this was largely due to anomalous heat removed from the surface ocean and instead transported down into the deep ocean. This anomalous deep ocean warming was later confirmed by observations.

    This deep ocean warming in the model occurred during negative phases of theInterdecadal Pacific Oscillation (IPO), an index of the mean state of the north and south Pacific Ocean, and was most likely in response to intensification of the wind-driven ocean circulation.

    Meehl (2013) is an update to their previous work, and the authors show that accelerated warming decades are associated with the positive phase of the IPO. This is a result of a weaker wind-driven ocean circulation, when a large decrease in heat transported to the deep ocean allows the surface ocean to warm quickly, and this in turn raises global surface temperatures.

    This modelling work, combined with current understanding of the wind-driven ocean circulation, implies that global surface temperaures will rise quickly when the IPO switches from the current negative phase to a positive phase.” http://climatestate.com/magazine/2013/06/a-looming-climate-shift-will-ocean-heat-come-back-to-haunt-us/

  156. prokaryotes:

    Does Cyclonic Activity in the Arctic drive Freshwater into Deep Ocean and Unlock Methane Hydrate? http://climatestate.com/magazine/2013/08/does-cyclonic-activity-in-the-arctic-drive-freshwater-into-deep-ocean-and-unlock-methane-hydrate/

  157. Steve Fish:

    Kevin and Chuck:

    I got my Ph.D. in neurophysiology and did a postdoc in neuroanatomy. I did (funded) research early on and mostly teaching, both inside and outside my area of specialization, later on. The course I was most fond of was Scientific Presentation skills for Ph.D. students and faculty. I also did scientific illustration for teaching and research and didn’t charge for the more than 1,500 illustrations I did for colleagues and students. I retired in 2005 and have never posted on Daily Kos.

    The only thing that is important about this, here, is that it is never wise to make statements outside of ones area of expertise when speaking to a science literate audience because it is too easy to say something dumb. Neuroscience is especially a problem. Look at the silliness made of Roger Sperry’s split brain (right brain-left brain) research in popular culture.

    Be accurate and be prepared to document it. Steve

  158. prokaryotes:

    On The Sensitivity Of Ocean Circulation To Arctic Freshwater Pulses During The Paleocene/Eocene Thermal Maximum

    These results suggest that Arctic freshwater flux into the North Pacific through the Bering Strait may induce circulation patterns similar to those inferred from stable isotope reconstructions during the PETM as well as increase intermediate and deep ocean temperatures and that flow through the Turgay Strait into the North Tethys Ocean would increase surface ocean and atmosphere temperatures. Based upon circulation patterns and temperature increases due to freshwater flux through the Bering Strait, Arctic freshwater input into the North Pacific could serve as a catalyst for methane hydrate destabilization, an event suggested as a precursor to the onset of the PETM. http://dspace.uta.edu/handle/10106/2004

  159. prokaryotes:

    Updated the question/headline to “Does Ocean Circulation in the Arctic drive Freshwater into Deep Ocean and Unlock Methane Hydrate?

  160. Hank Roberts:

    More at:

    which quotes Maslin (London):
    > temperature changes alone won’t trigger underwater landslides.
    > “Dramatic degassing events require a change in pressure”

    Now could a change in pressure happen? That would take a tsunami,
    one that happened to occur at a low-low tide to go well below normal
    water depth, I’d guess.

    Maybe this? http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/capital-weather-gang/wp/2013/06/26/did-the-so-called-derecho-cause-an-east-coast-tsunami/

    (speculation there whether that was a tsunami from a storm surge, or a tsunami from an undersea geological event like, er, a slope failure. I trust they’re looking for some evidence either way.)

    Turns out they’re not uncommon, nor are continental slope failures causing slides into the deep ocean: http://news.discovery.com/earth/oceans/east-coast-tsunamis-whats-the-danger-130628.htm
    “Two small tsunamis that struck the Atlantic Seaboard on April 11 and June 13 have oceanographers hot on the trail of a possible undersea landslide in the Hudson Canyon, off the coast of New Jersey.

    “The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) ship Okeanos Explorer has been diverted from its previously scheduled survey of mapping the undersea New England Seamount Chain to collect seafloor data that can be compared to another survey in the summer of 2012. Scientists are hoping that they will find some sign of a large landslide which could account for at least one of the tsunamis….”

    Hey, what’s the worst that could happen?
    That’d probably provoke a methane burp, but we’d barely notice in the other troubles.
    I do hereby join those acknowledging that ReCaptcha has achieved sentience and is helping us along with suggestions (or maybe it’s the NSA).
    For this posting the words are:

    ycounci Swamp

    Yep, I can see that happening.

  161. prokaryotes:

    Does Freshwater Runoff in the Arctic change Ocean Circulation to Unlock Methane Hydrate in the Deep Ocean?

    Freshwater input into the Pacific Ocean produces the highest temperatures(~12°C) in the global ocean in intermediate and deepwaters http://climatestate.com/magazine/2013/08/does-freshwater-runoff-in-the-arctic-change-ocean-circulation-unlock-methane-hydrate-in-the-deep-ocean/

  162. prokaryotes:

    Destabilization of methane hydrates, clathrate hydrates, within the oceans depends on temperature and pressure. These hydrates are crystalice structures that contain molecules of CH4 within. As temperature increases or pressure decreases, the ice structures will melt and release the methane, which contains large amounts of carbon. The critical pressure(or depth) of the methane hydrate release depends on the temperature; the higher the temperature the deeper the critical depth of the release (see Dickens et al., 1995 and Figure1 therein). Most hydrates are formed and are stable on the continental margins, specifically the slope and rise that are between 900-2000m (Dickens, 2001). Bice and Marotzke (2002) propose a positive feedback loop responsible for the onset of the PETM due to the release of these hydrates (see Figure9 therein). They conclude from their ocean model study that an initial increase in CO2 in the atmosphere, caused possibly by volcanic outgassing, would increase the strength of the hydrological cycle. These increases could cause a warming at intermediate depths within the ocean on a regional scale that could induce limited methane hydrate destabilization.They argue that this release of CH4 would then oxidize to CO2 in either the ocean or atmosphere and furth erexacerbate extremes in the hydrological cycle and eventually switch high southern latitude deep-water formation to high northern latitude deep-waterformation. This switch would bring sudden warm water to the ocean bottoms and incite methane release on a global scale. FreshwaterinputintothePacificOceanproducesthehighesttemperatures(~12°C)intheglobaloceaninintermediateanddeepwaters

  163. Hank Roberts:

    More for Chuck Hughes:

    “… if we put enough CO2 into the atmosphere to equilibrate global temperatures at 1 K above preindustrial levels before we become extinct, we have committed the planet to 2.3 x 0.4 = 0.9 m of sea level rise over the next two millennia.

    All of this helps to put into context Climate Central’s scary interactive map of sea level rise. Look at how much of our major cities will be under water in two millennia! Ah, but under this scenario we’re extinct and the cities will be empty anyway….”

  164. Hank Roberts:

    Seems to me if policy policy desperately needs scientific advice, including statistical advice, because policy’s been so dumb from letting money decide policies. Money’s not smart enough to account for costs, til the statistics are done and that’s “after the fact” as far as money is concerned.

    Costs aren’t accounted for until: experience.

    Would you buy an airplane for which “the most likely failure occurs slightly above design cruise speed if minimum strength and minimum stiffness were used in design”?
    But how would you know? Takes a while for the statistics to come in.
    Then, what do you do? Hope the market changes the design spec? Make policy? Let the insurance companies decide, as they’re willing to do?

    Dunno. Wish we were smarter.

  165. Hank Roberts:

    (Yes, that’s a modeling study)

  166. David B. Benson:

    Strangers Invade the Homes of Giant Bacteria
    Not sure just how climate related this is but certainly fascinating.

  167. Hank Roberts:

    So, let’s see
    Most of the methane hydrate is happening where old methane comes up from geological sources — maybe old seabed long since subducted perhaps carrying some load of organic material, eventually mostly limestone or dolomite, isn’t it? Heat sufficiently, stuff bubbles up. Hot, we get volcanos. Do we get methane that old coming up under solid salt domes contributing to petroleum, or is that generated from more shallow and more recently buried stuff? And methane coming up under the ocean at depth in the cold can make clathrates.

    So at the PETM that stuff melted? Down to say the 400 meters that used to be the shallowest known?

    But — since the PETM — there’s also been time for the stuff to build up at depths shallower than that, up to the oh around 300 meters, 270 in that one location? So — we need to know how old the stuff is, in each location where it’s found, as well as its depth and temperature.

    Does it make sense to speculate on which clathrates would have survived the PETM spike and so be very very old, and could those be distinguished from any that formed since that low point in their development? Not C14, it’s not good except for geologically very recent dates. Other ratios?

    Dunno. Just wondering out loud. More explanation would be welcome from those who have facts and figures.

    Someone’s got to be doing the methane C14 numbers, I hope?

    Just wondering.

  168. WebHubTelescope:

    MA asked

    MLO CO2 figures for July show a continued high annual increase. The average annual increase over the last 6 months tops 2.8ppm which for ENSO neutral conditions is a bit extraordinary when compared to previous values.
    And the opening days for August show little signs of a return to lower annual increases this month.
    So what’s happening?

    For one, China has easily doubled coal consumption in the last 10 years

    Second, based on the recent paper by W.Wang (thanks for the link to the PDF guys), integrated positive tropical temperature residuals can also have a transient impact on CO2 increase above that what emissions will cause.

  169. Hank Roberts:

    (There’s this, but no way I’m competent to read this stuff and draw conclusions)


  170. flxible:

    The State of the Climate in 2012, a supplement to the August 2013 issue of the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society.

  171. patrick:

    164 On climate science, economics, and advocacy. There is the famous analogy of Read’s pencil, taken up by Friedman, which is taken to show that economic exchange allows people to interact where they would not otherwise, who may seem to have very little in common. A lot is made of this. I think at least as much should be made, in the same sort of way, of climate science as science. If there is an ‘invisible hand’ (think about it) in the market, surely there is an ‘invisible hand’ in science of equal or greater interest.

    “Science is a process that works despite our human frailties.” –Gavin Schmidt, in yesterday’s Sustainability Media Lab hangout (minute 23):


    Read capitalizes the term, ‘Invisible Hand,’ for whatever reason. The process is as remarkable for the cooperation involved as for lack of a ‘mastermind.’


    At least as much should be made of intelligence, formalized in science, as of markets. This pencil is self-writing, so to speak. Remarkable.

    I don’t think what’s going on with climate science and AGW, with emphasis on C02, is Gallileo all over again. I think it’s Gallileo continued.

  172. Chuck Hughes:

    All of this helps to put into context Climate Central’s scary interactive map of sea level rise. Look at how much of our major cities will be under water in two millennia! Ah, but under this scenario we’re extinct and the cities will be empty anyway….”

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 7 Aug 2013

    This is exactly what I’m trying to get at. I read all manner of comments about human extinction and dire predictions. Michio Kaku, Stephen Hawking, Peter Ward, Dr. James Hansen to name but a few. And some of these guys are saying we have a 50/50 chance of making it to the end of this century or no chance at all, according to Frank Fenner. I understand our situation is serious and dire. I get it. But is our situation really to the point that we have a 50/50 chance or less of making it to the end of this century???

    You can find this stuff on youtube coming from the very people I just named. These are very credible people and they sound serious to me and the evidence seems to back up what they’re saying but it’s pretty hard to believe we’re this close.

    Sooo… Are we going to be able to pull this off and survive??? I know everybody hopes we can but realistically, what are the odds given where we are now and what’s happening politically?

    Frank Fenner:

    Stephen Hawking on the future of humanity. TED Talks:

    Michio Kaku – Will Mankind Destroy Itself?:

  173. Hank Roberts:

    ah, possible evidence of a combination: asteroid impact and methane release:

  174. patrick:

    171 Make that: “Galileo.”

  175. Thomas Lee Elifritz:

    Sooo… Are we going to be able to pull this off and survive??? I know everybody hopes we can but realistically, what are the odds given where we are now and what’s happening politically?

    Without a reusable heavy lift launch vehicle system?

    Not a chance. Don’t worry, you’re in good hands. Congress has you covered.

  176. Radge Havers:

    Chuck Hughes @ 172

    If we’re going to be extinct in 100 years, I suspect that it will essentially be a fait accompli before we can accurately compute the odds of its happening.

    Uncertainty. Plenty.
    Reasons to worry. Plenty.
    Makes it all the more painful, no? C’est la vie.

  177. prokaryotes:

    Hank, check out the “Hot Cakes” here

  178. Susan Anderson:

    Gavin Schmidt, Richard Betts, and Judith Curry appear on a Google hangout (cited at DotEarth and elsewhere) about Tamsin Edwards. Currently listening, and probably too inexpert to say more (except please don’t buy in to “own goal” tricksiness); here’s the link:


    (others may have been before me on this. A commenter over at Rabett’s has transcribed a small bit of it (Taylor B 7/8 8:36 pm) but beware of getting caught by the troll(s) who have taken up residence there.)


    Dr. Schmidt, as he often does, seems to be picking his words very carefully.

  179. Radge Havers:

    Chuck Hughes, here’s one way to look at it. You’re in a car with passengers barreling down the road, and it’s headed off the road toward a ravine. Will you all walk away with scratches? Doesn’t seem likely, it’s a ways down. Will some be killed, maimed? Will the car br totaled or salvageable? Will it be trauma by fire, blunt force or what? How much injury, and where? How much will it hurt? How much will it cost?

    Don’t know. Let’s not try it and see. Is the driver an idiot? Yeah. Will he get serious before the nose dive? Who knows, he’s an idiot.

  180. prokaryotes:

    The simulation of deep-sea sediments http://www.seao2.info/pubs/thesis/chapter_3.pdf

  181. prokaryotes:

    Sensitivity of the global submarine hydrate inventory to scenarios of future climate change

    The global submarine inventory of methane hydrate is thought to be considerable. The stability of marine hydrates is sensitive to changes in temperature and pressure and once destabilised, hydrates release methane into sediments and ocean and potentially into the atmosphere, creating a positive feedback with climate change. Here we present results from a multi-model study investigating how the methane hydrate inventory dynamically responds to different scenarios of future climate and sea level change. The results indicate that a warming-induced reduction is dominant even when assuming rather extreme rates of sea level rise (up to 20 mm yr−1) under moderate warming scenarios (RCP 4.5). Over the next century modelled hydrate dissociation is focussed in the top View the MathML source of Arctic and Subarctic sediments beneath View the MathML source water depth. Predicted dissociation rates are particularly sensitive to the modelled vertical hydrate distribution within sediments. Under the worst case business-as-usual scenario (RCP 8.5), upper estimates of resulting global sea-floor methane fluxes could exceed estimates of natural global fluxes by 2100 View the MathML source, although subsequent oxidation in the water column could reduce peak atmospheric release rates to 0.75–1.4 Tg CH4 yr−1. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0012821X13000848

    I would like to read the full paper.

  182. Jim Larsen:

    On extinction:

    It’s easy to come up with scenarios where a billion or three people die. But even the death of 6.9 billion people isn’t remotely close to extinction. There’d still be 74,000,000 of us left. Come up with a scenario where it’s impossible for several governments to each keep a few hundred people alive and then we’ll talk extinction.

  183. flxible:

    I’m always a bit amused when folks raise a sweat over the survival of “civilization” beyond 2100. None of us here today will be around in 2100. Unlikely anyone at all alive today will be alive in 2100. Even likely none of your grandchildren will be alive in 2100. Pretty safe bet that I, and many here, won’t see the end of this decade, certainly not the next. The Mayans were a “civilization”, and after thriving for centuries that unit disappeared long ago. Many “civilizations” have come and gone. Might be best to focus on the problems at hand.

  184. Hank Roberts:

    Chuck Hughes, the lines you quoted and attributed to me, were lines I quoted from (and I hope properly linked to) John Nielsen-Gammon.
    His article is here:

    Read that and the two papers he cites and quotes from; they’re research articles with discussion of the assumptions made and the consequences — directly on point to your question.

    Read more of what he writes there in various columns to get a feel for his tone and attitude toward knowing what’s going to happen if we go on like this.

  185. Hank Roberts:

    > http://www.seao2.info/pubs.html

    that’s a page of work and work in progress, lots on point for this discussion,
    Andy Ridgwell
    Professor of Earth System Modelling
    I hope he’s reading or comes by here.

    Good pointer, thank you.

  186. Radge Havers:


    Yes, however to be fair to Chuck, and maybe I’m thinking of someone else here, but I think he’s looking for a way to present concrete and demonstrable consequences of the path we’re on to high school students — a specific audience.

    In any case, it seems to be more of an issue of finding a compelling narrative for the purposes of advocacy, rather than one of mundane explication.

  187. Doug:

    Gavin, I know my blood pressure goes up every time I hear Judith Curry speak, I can only imagine having to actually be in a discussion with her. Do you have good health insurance? (: Thanks for taking part in that Google Plus hangout.

  188. Hank Roberts:

    For Chuck:
    found at

  189. Kevin McKinney:

    “Unlikely anyone at all alive today will be alive in 2100. Even likely none of your grandchildren will be alive in 2100.”

    Huh? A newborn today would be all of 87 in 2100. I personally know several people older than that–and I don’t think I’m particularly unusual in that respect. (OK, life expectancy is neither a given nor a constant, but still…)

    And the two boys I raised have yet to have kids, so the actuarial odds of any offspring they may yet have reaching 2100 CE are still better.

    I’d say if someone has a young child today, the odds of having a grandchild live to 2100 are pretty darn good–systems crashes excluded, of course.

    I think it’s important to keep this perspective in mind, because at this point we are mostly ‘playing’ for the lives of our kids and grandkids. No matter what plausible emissions trajectory we end up following, the difference between ‘best’ and ‘worst’ in 2050 is probably going to be less than 2 C. But for 2100, it could easily be 5 C, or even more.

    So our climatic fate is pretty much sealed. But we can make life hell for those kids, or not. And while everybody is in favor of something as noble-sounding as ‘intergenerational justice’, people get very fierce about their kids’ and grandkids’ best interests.

  190. Susan Anderson:

    In talking about the future, please remember that time does not stop at 2100.

    Gavin, IMHO, showed remarkable patience and made a strong effort to find common ground. An excellent presentation, I thought.

  191. flxible:

    “A newborn today would be all of 87 in 2100. I personally know several people older than that”

    Yes, life expectancy is a moving target, but currently in the US it’s less than 87, in fact much less than 87 pretty much anywhere in the world, and your chances as a male are even slimmer, regardless if you know a couple hundred oldsters over that age out of the billions of humans now alive. Would that handful constitute a “civilization” in 2100?

    “I’d say if someone has a young child today, the odds of having a grandchild live to 2100 are pretty darn good – systems crashes excluded, of course.”

    As you point out, the outlook for 2050 isn’t all that grand, excluding the ‘systems crashes’ we’re already seeing. Particularly wrt ‘petro-wars’ and developing conflicts over water and food, not to mention the religious disagreements. You have no ‘actuarial evidence’ that your boys will live to have kids, let alone that those hypothetical kids would survive until 2100. Trying to motivate folks now to make some adaptations or do some mitigating in order to avoid hypothetical living conditions 50-100 years hence seems less than useless, considering the behaviour of those subjected to the ravages inflicted on the US East Coast recently: simply dredging the beaches back up and carrying on. Where’s the best interests of their progeny?

  192. prokaryotes:

    Earth Under Water – Worldwide Flooding | Global Warming | National Geographic Documentary http://climatestate.com/2013/08/09/earth-under-water-worldwide-flooding-global-warming-national-geographic-documentary/

  193. Chuck Hughes:

    My thinking is that if things are as bad as Frank Fenner stated, we’re in some serious trouble, (to put it mildly). And furthermore, why would he say that if he didn’t have some concrete evidence that that’s where we’re headed? Even Stephen Hawking said as much as has Peter Ward and several others who should know. I have to believe these people wouldn’t be making such statements if they didn’t really know something significant.

    If the analogy of being in a severe car crash is any indication of what to expect, I would not expect to walk away from it, although I’ve seen some pretty dramatic NASCAR wrecks where the occupants walked away. For some reason I get the feeling we’re riding in a late model Chevelle instead, with pointed metal radio knobs and no seatbelts.

    Hank, I did read and see the NYT article about the former heads of the EPA but as many have pointed out, the article appeared in the NYT which has a very low Conservative readership. I don’t think you’d have too difficult a time convincing readers of the NYT that we have a problem.

    What I would really like to know… is there some sort of common knowledge amongst Climate Scientists where folks know but won’t say so publicly simply because it would be too upsetting? I know there’s been a lot of political backlash against scientists for speaking out so I can understand why some would want to exercise extreme caution when making a public prognosis. I apologize for sounding repetitive here. If you feel you’ve already answered to the best of your ability then feel free to ignore me. I did read all the previous responses so thank you for that.

  194. owl905:

    @183 fixible – “I’m always a bit amused when folks raise a sweat over the survival of “civilization” beyond 2100.”
    Wrong-way Corrigan had a better sense of location. This argument combines the binary fiction “nothing is happening now”, with the free-stuff attitude “they can pay for the pollution then”. Too late and always was too late. Increasing food prices, insurance costs, and government disaster expenses, are the debt service costs for the unpaid pollution bill. Hyperbole claims about the ‘non-threat of extinction’ divert attention from the real deal – your neighborhood could be the next extreme event disaster. It won’t kill you (we’re really good at warning and response), it will just hand you the end of your personal prosperous life. It eats wallets and it devours futures. One-third of natural disaster costs are now uninsured and unfunded.

  195. patrick:

    “What’s the use of having developed a science well enough to make predictions if, in the end, all we’re willing to do is stand around and wait for them to come true?”


  196. Kevin McKinney:

    #191, 194–I’m bemused, too.

    All I can say is that my perspective is very different from flxible’s–I don’t think that emotional distancing from any future more distant than–what? A few years hence?–is helpful.

    I find the prospect that my boys are likely to be enduring whatever we send them in the way of climate–not, to be sure, in 2100, which neither is likely to live to see, but very likely in, say, 2060-70, which will be their ‘golden years,’ or should be–to be very motivating indeed.

    And I’m darn sure I’m not alone in that.

  197. Hank Roberts:

    Jay Forrester, quoted by Donella Meadows:

    People know intuitively where leverage points are. Time after time I’ve done an analysis of a company, and I’ve figured out a leverage point—in inventory policy, maybe, or in the relationship between sales force and productive force, or in personnel policy. Then I’ve gone to the company and discovered that there’s already a lot of attention to that point. Everyone is trying very hard to push it in the wrong direction!”


  198. Hank Roberts:

    Mother Jones: How Much Should You Worry About an Arctic Methane Bomb?
    Recent warnings that this greenhouse gas could cost us $60 trillion have received widespread publicity. But many scientists are skeptical.—By Chris Mooney Thu Aug. 8, 2013

  199. Patrick 027:

    I had read, in Pale Blue Dot (Carl Sagan), that setting aside all of humanity’s quirks (incl. AGW), and just based on us being a mammal (or some category of mammal?), we would have x% confidence of not going extinct before t1 but going extinct before t2. Offhand, I think (somewhat fuzzy, though; it’s been over 10 years since I read it) those numbers may have been 95 %, 12 years, and 8 million years; ie we have a 2.5 % chance of going extinct within the next 12 years. Or maybe it was 97 %, 8 years, … well it was a bit astounding, whatever the details.

  200. Hank Roberts:

    Nowadays, you don’t need to fool all of the people all of the time; a bare majority of actual voters is all you need to fool.

    No limit on anonymous money advertising in politics, in the US.

    Most people still think that “news” should be honest and accurate.
    There is no rule against distorting or falsifying the news in the United States.

    The language used is, perhaps intentionally, utterly confusing for the naive reader:
    “editorial content” means news, not opinions.
    “editorials” are opinion, not news.

    The advertising business and publishers are actively working on making advertising look as much like news as they possibly can. AdWeek describes how it’s done.

    So — when you read, see or hear something about science and climate:

    – is it “news”?
    – is it “editorial”?
    – is it “opinion”?
    – is it “advocacy”?
    – is it “advertising?

    Damned if I can tell them apart most of the time, until I dig for cites.

    Where the hell are the librarians?
    Weren’t they our last hope for help?

  201. Patrick 027:

    … and on the bright side, a 2.5 (?) % chance of going for more than 8 (?) million years…

    Couldn’t find any reference to this statement online, so I can’t confirm the numbers right now.

  202. Joseph O'Sullivan:

    I recently ran across this paper in Science, well just the abstract:

    Changes in Ecologically Critical Terrestrial Climate Conditions

    This line jumped out at me: “Inertia toward continued emissions creates potential 21st-century global warming that is comparable in magnitude to that of the largest global changes in the past 65 million years but is orders of magnitude more rapid”

    The paper seems to use this rate of warming then to extrapolate what the ecological ramifications will be. If this is true the prospects are daunting to say the least, but is this rate of global warming likely? It is a new paper so it is hard to find the complete version.

  203. Joseph O'Sullivan:

    I found the press release of the paper here:

    Climate Change Occurring Faster Than Ever

  204. Hank Roberts:

    Science 9 August 2013:
    Vol. 341 no. 6146 p. 599
    DOI: 10.1126/science.341.6146.599

    News & Analysis
    How to Make a Great Ice Age, Again and Again and Again
    Richard A. Kerr

    “For more than 30 years, climate researchers have been trying to figure out how slight changes in Earth’s orbit could drive the great ice ages. Now the best computer model of the ice ages yet may have found the answer: a rhythmic stretching of Earths egg-shaped orbit around the sun every 100,000 years amplifies the influence of a second orbital cycle.”

  205. Jim Larsen:

    200 Hank,

    Nope. Due to Gerrymandering and the Electoral College, along with polarized voters who would vote for a chimp if it was of the right party, you only have to move a few voters in a few swing states.

  206. David B. Benson:

    Why an Ice Age Occurs Every 100,000 Years: Climate and Feedback Effects Explained
    Except that the next stade (glacial) has been postponed for about 100,000 years.

  207. patrick:

    202 & 203 That line from the press release jumps out at me too, plus:

    “There are two key differences for ecosystems in the coming decades compared with the geologic past,” Diffenbaugh said. “One is the rapid pace of modern climate change. The other is that today there are multiple human stressors that were not present 55 million years ago, such as urbanization and air and water pollution.”

  208. patrick:


    “…the Promise and Pitfalls of Blogging…(2012) Gavin Schmidt…talks with Pace University environmental science students and their professor, Andy Revkin, about the opportunity for scientists in many fields to help fill the online space “between the paper and the tweet.”

  209. Hank Roberts:

    > you only have to move a few voters in a few swing states

    You mean move _into_ those few swing House districts, and vote there, eh?
    I think I’ll leave that to younger folks, I’m kind of set in my ways and means.

    I wonder what it’d take to put advertising where those voters would see it, though, not to mention doorbell-ringers and chatter-uppers to do that convincing, where possible. Science does work, if there’s a way to do that.
    But, ah, the policy discussion belongs elsewhere.

    How to convince people to understand physics, though, that might take science.

  210. Chuck Hughes:

    More extreme flooding events. Now in North Arkansas and Southern Missouri and many other states. I assume this is due to the jet stream pattern:


  211. Jim Larsen:

    207 Patrick,

    There are also human “anti-stressors”, such as efforts to aid migration. Plant a tree that prefers a bit hotter clime than you have at present, and you’ve helped migrate.

    209 Hank,

    Newspapers and TV stations in swing states are in great demand.

    I meant move as in change the opinion of, but your point about internal migration holds in a Tea Partyesque way.

  212. prokaryotes:

    Violence + Global Warming – Temp increase of just 2°C can up inter-group conflicts by 50% http://climatestate.com/2013/08/10/violence-global-warming-temp-increase-of-just-2c-can-up-inter-group-conflicts-by-50/#comment-421

    From 2009: Fuel fumes ‘can increase anxiety and aggression’
    Simply filling up a car can increase the risks of suffering from anxiety and aggression, a new study suggests. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/health/healthnews/6636033/Fuel-fumes-can-increase-anxiety-and-aggression.html

  213. prokaryotes:

    As Antarctic Sea Ice Melts, Seaweed Smothers Seafloor http://www.weather.com/news/science/environment/antarctic-sea-ice-melts-seaweed-smothers-seafloor-20130808


  214. prokaryotes:

    A batch of new video’s from

    NASA: Potential Evaporation in North America Through 2100 (August 2013 in HD) http://climatestate.com/2013/08/10/nasa-potential-evaporation-in-north-america-through-2100-august-2013-in-hd/

    NASA: The Future of Fires in Perspective to Future Emissions Scenario’s (August 2013) http://climatestate.com/2013/08/10/nasa-the-future-of-fires-in-perspective-to-future-emissions-scenarios-august-2013/

    NOAA: Huge Ocean Dead Zone in Gulf of Mexico (August 2013) http://climatestate.com/2013/08/10/noaa-huge-ocean-dead-zone-in-gulf-of-mexico-august-2013/

    NASA: Wildfires, Smog – Particulate Matter Will Only Get Worse (August 2013) http://climatestate.com/2013/08/10/nasa-wildfires-smog-particulate-matter-will-only-get-worse-august-2013/

  215. Susan Anderson:

    Chuck Hughes @~210

    I think you could characterize it, in a manner of speaking, as a jet stream *lack* of pattern. There have been stalled “patterns” in various configurations all summer.

  216. prokaryotes:

    I thought that I would post this image of Eustatic Sea Level Rise Projects after NRC, 1987. As the indicated “High” sea level by 2100 per Hoffman 1983 was 3.5m; this figure indicates how intimidation of climate science after 1983 has induced researchers to adopt “least drama” SLR projections with lower “High” projections. The risks of high SLR were evident to researchers before 1983; but what has changed in the meantime is researchers’ increased reticence to express their true opinion on this matter. http://forum.arctic-sea-ice.net/index.php/topic,70.msg12126.html#msg12126

  217. prokaryotes:

    Climate Change Deniers can’t Spin the Truth!

  218. Tony Weddle:

    flxible, I think we need to keep in mind that average life expectancy is an average. If the average is, say 78, you can expect a significant number of people to live well beyond that. I’d be surprised if there weren’t a significant number of people born this year alive in 2100. This, of course, discounts severe environmental impacts before then and, probably, even societal collapses.

  219. prokaryotes:

    Super Typhoon Utor Bearing Down on the Philippines

    In a few hours, Super Typhoon Utor will make landfall on Luzon; more specifically, near the Casapsapan Bay.

    As of Sunday evening local time (Sunday morning EDT), Utor was packing maximum sustained winds of around 240 kilometers per hour (150 mph)–the equivalent of a strong Category 4 hurricane in the Atlantic or eastern Pacific oceans.

  220. Steve Fish:


    Have you or your colleagues been intimidated into altering your published projections of sea level rise for the last 30 years, as suggested by Prokaryotes above?


    [Response: Not in the slightest. - gavin]

  221. Kevin McKinney:

    Lonny Thompson, ‘back in the saddle again!’

    Congratulations, Dr. Thompson!


  222. Hank Roberts:

    This is quite good, clear writing; one of a number of relevant posts:


  223. Thomas Lee Elifritz:

    Re: SkepticalRaptor, yes, I found his honest reporting and unbiased editing of the Younger Dryas Impact Hypothesis wiki page to be particularly amusing.

    You need to vet your scientific opinion sources more carefully, Hank.

  224. Hank Roberts:

    Possibly useful, seems to have a lot of the info otherwise widely scattered:
    Setting up OSX for Data Analysis

    R (with ESS)
    Python (with EIN and assorted scientific Python stuff)

  225. Tony Weddle:

    The story linked to by Hank Roberts shows the debate between scientists about the threat of abrupt methane release in the Arctic. What confuses me, though, is that those (e.g. Shakhova et al) who’ve done the research on the ground (sea) for more than a decade say one thing and those that haven’t (e.g. Gavin and David) say another. Are the latter suggesting that the former have some kind of bias? Why should we not take more seriously the findings of those who do the actual research?

    [Response: This is both factually incorrect and also illogical. First, there are many arctic scientists who share the scepticism over the 'imminent' threat of an Arctic 'methane bomb' - scientists from USGS working in the Beaufort Sea, other Russian scientists, Canadian researchers etc. - many of whom have also been quoted in critical articles on the this topic. But even if that were not true, the logic of the argument makes no sense. Should no one be able to criticise an idea with huge ramifications (if true) based on their knowledge of the system as a whole? Or are the speculations of people that claim huge impacts, based on a small technical issue that only they know about, immune from criticism? This makes no sense. The basic issue here is that a small number of people are pushing an idea based on a mechanism that actually has no observational support at all. You might be happier asking them for actual evidence that there exist shallow hydrates close to the surface (in a zone where they are not thermodynamically stable even now) and where anthropogenic warming is about to arrive (though since they are not stable anyway, it's unclear to me why that is even needed). This is not ignoring the methane that was measured in the column, and it is not ignoring the state of the permafrost, and neither is it a claim that everything is fine in the Arctic (it is not). But it is looking closely at the difference between what is being claimed and what can actually be concluded. Any reasonably knowledgeable scientist in this domain can work this out for themselves. - gavin]

  226. Hank Roberts:

    Chain reaction shattered huge Antarctica ice shelf
    Draining of meltwater lakes from surface explains sudden demise of Larsen B.
    Jane Qiu, 09 August 2013

    Hat tip to Slashdot, where

    Jim McNicholas writes “At the end of the summer of 2002, all 3000 lakes on the Larsen B ice shelf drained away in the space of a week. And then the 2,700-square-kilometre ice shelf, which was some 220 metres thick and might have existed for some 12,000 years, rapidly disintegrated into small icebergs. The draining of one lake on an ice shelf changes the stress field in nearby areas, causing a fracture circle to form around the lake.

  227. Chris Colose:

    Tony Weddle (#225)

    I share Gavin’s frustration on the methane issue, which is why I wrote a SkepticalScience piece on this topic here (which I am aware has also been dealt criticism from Nafeez Ahmed, Paul Beckwith, etc, though I stand by the arguments and conclusion of my piece).

    I’m also not an expert in this area, however it was easy to access many of the key articles (from Shakhova et al., and all of the papers referenced in my article above…including several key review pieces, responses, the USGS webpage, etc). I also sent out a few e-mails to Arctic experts prior to publishing the article. I found it pretty easy to gather from that reading/inquiry (and my own background understanding of paleoclimate/future predictions) that the catastrophic “methane bomb” actually has no support whatsoever and has been the topic of some pretty irresponsible talking points by some of the experts who are pushing the idea. I was actually surprised after my SkS piece was published to see how much disagreement there has been on the internet.

    I don’t know Natalia Shakhova, Peter Wadhams, etc, and I’m not sure why they remain so convinced about the imminent threat of subsea deposits. But actually it’s been Wadhams and other people (e.g., Nafeez Ahmed) who have repeatedly conveyed the odd impression that their catastrophe mechanism is self-evident from the “observations,” they have insulted “modelers,” and suggested that there’s some ideology or bias from those (like Gavin or David) who aren’t directly at the field site- with the implication that they have no clue what is going on, or can’t sort out the evidence. It’s been pretty bizarre for a scientific discourse.

    Also, I’m not aware that anyone is questioning some of the observed methane fluxes from the East Siberian Shelf. The entire question has been the interpretation (e.g., source/changing source) and perspective for how that is all going to translate into an enhanced atmospheric reservoir in the near future. I’m really not sure why those at sea have some special privilege in answering these questions, especially since what has been observed so far does not translate trivially into the predictions being proposed.

  228. Tony Weddle:

    Thanks for the reply, Gavin. I wasn’t suggesting that climate scientists couldn’t comment on the research of others but I was confused because it seemed to me that other climate scientists simply didn’t believe what Shakhova, Semiletov and others were saying. In the article I linked to, it seems to be quoting Peter Wadhams as saying the methane hydrates had been detected at 20m below the sea floor in the ESAS. If these detected hydrates are not stable (which presumably they wouldn’t be at only maybe 70m below the surface) then that would be a worry. However, what has actually been found is not clear to me. Maybe Shakhova and Semiletov’s paper (apparently due out in Nature, soon, according to Wadhams) will shed more light on the matter.

  229. patrick:

    http://www.theguardian.com/environment/video/2013/aug/11/texas-drought-fracking-video (11 Aug)

    “People are going to fight over water. Any water–’s just the way it is.”

    “It’s just going down and down and down. I guess our atmosphere’s changing.”

    “Seems like the climate’s changing, not only here but all over the world.”

    ‘Here,’ in this case, is Mertzon TX.

  230. simon abingdon:

    @Susan Anderson #215

    Quite so Susan. We’re seeing more and more examples of such “weather weirding”. It’s an entirely new phenomenon and one whose increasingly damaging effects are now unmistakable. Down at my local pub they talk of little else.

  231. prokaryotes:

    Re #222 When i read a Wikipedia page one of the first things i do is to check the talk page and often have a look at the revision’s – to get all the data. Checking cited claims is pretty straight forward “Normally”.

    Speaking of Wikipedia:

    William M. Connolley, reverts my Wikipedia edits on the new Methane study. He claims “it was rubbish. Excuse: this is too new”

  232. Tom Adams:

    Perhaps the real threat from methane hydrate is that humans will exploit them as another fossil fuel in a world where green gas emissions remain unregulated. “Japan says it has successfully extracted natural gas from frozen methane hydrate off its central coast, in a world first”:


  233. prokaryotes:

    Re gavin #225 “an idea based on a mechanism that actually has no observational support”


    “A key challenge in assessing the impact of dissociating gas hydrates on global atmospheric methane is the lack of a technique able to distinguish between methane recently released from gas hydrates and methane emitted from leaky thermogenic reservoirs, shallow sediments (some newly thawed), coal beds, and other sources.”

    Mass fractionation of noble gases in synthetic methane hydrate: Implications for naturally occurring gas hydrate dissociation http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0009254112004603

  234. patrick:

    Communicate the [fact that there is a] consensus. (Oh no, you haven’t.)
    Very good video of John Cook, Skeptical Science, is embedded here (8 Aug):


    “The results of this study can be compared to the PhD research done by my Skeptical Science colleague John Cook, at the University of Queensland.”

    The video is a talk by Cook following from his own research, at the recent AGU Chapman Conference, “Communicating Climate Science: A Historic Look to the Future.”

    This article (8 Aug) is by Dana Nuccitelli and John Abraham, about findings in “Public Understanding of Science,” 3 April.

    It shows five tactics that have created distrust in climate science. Each one is a version of ad hominem.

  235. Hank Roberts:

    Right, it might be possible to do that, if it works in the field.
    But that has nothing to do with the temperature/pressure conditions.

    Look, prokaryotes, your heart is obviously in the right place, you’re scared, and you’re repeating scary stories you’ve read.

    But there can’t be clathrates above the temperature/pressure line, they come apart when the temperature/pressure stability conditions aren’t satisfied.

    The “bomb” only exists below the stability line.
    Above that line, methane gas — far less methane total volume — exists, not the much denser clathrate form. Yes, drill through the permafrost, methane comes out. Crack the permafrost, methane comes out.

    The notion appears to be that there’s a frozen layer of permafrost with methane gas under it — sure, could be. Then they say, well, with super high pressure under the hypothetical solid permafrost cap, there could maybe be shallower hydrates held together by the extreme pressure even though they’re warm.

    Yes, that happens — at great depths. Drill holes into methane gas reservoirs surrounded by clathrate keep yielding gas far beyond predictions, because removing the gas reduces the pressure, and that can take a deep hydrate into the instability conditions at its temperature. Then you get a methane drill hole that just keeps on giving gas, because there’s a dense source and they’re depressurizing it.

    That’s a gas driller’s method for getting more gas out, methane that would remain stable — unless drilled into and depressurized.

    But nobody’s found any evidence yet — or nobody’s published, if it’s found — that clathrates exist in the shallow warm sediments held somehow under extreme pressure by a frozen permafrost cap.

    If that existed, the first drill hole in it or the first crack would produce an increasing flow of methane. It hasn’t happened. Or they haven’t published.

    Yes, you can come up with notions about why. Secrets by the Russian government, secrets by the gas companies planning to tap the area, secrets by the space dragons controlling the empire, whatever.

    No evidence yet. Obvious things to look for to tell if the bubbles observed are from deep geological sources — noble gases from radioactivity deep in the Earth show up in fossil fuels, but not in methane from surface organic matter decomposing.

    No evidence.

    What’s the answer here?
    Promoting the scare story isn’t right.
    Please stop.

    Turn your talents toward trying to find out how to falsify the story — you claim to be doing a research blog.

    That’s how it’s done.

  236. patrick:

    “I’m going to just try to debug a few myth about consensus while I’m talking about my PhD research:


    Recent posts at SkS on this topic include these:


    “Few papers on geography bother to mention in the abstract that the Earth is round.”


  237. patrick:

    Video posted by John Cook on YouTube 23 Apr: Naomi Oreskes with Nick Minchkin (3 mins):


    Getting to critical conversations score: Extra High.

  238. patrick:

    “People like Neven, who can provide clear descriptions to the larger public are doing a great service. This is particularly so because scientists who are employed at major research institutions are often not trained in communication and such activities are not rewarded. I view these complementary activities and viewpoints [as] an exciting development in the larger conversation about climate change.”

    12 Aug SkS leads with John Abraham:



  239. Hank Roberts:

    From Lawrence Livermore National Lab:

    “Preserving the mixed hydrates may be possible at an easily accessible temperature, just a few degrees below ice’s melting temperature”

    “… Methane hydrate’s stability curve (Figure 2) has been established for some time. If conditions fall outside that curve, the material will dissociate into its components, methane and water. Durham, Stern, and Kirby looked at how the dissociation occurs under a variety of temperature and pressure conditions outside the curve.

    After the samples were created, the pressure was reduced to 0.1 MPa, the pressure at sea level. They did this in two ways: by slow cooling and depressurization and by rapid depressurization at a range of temperatures.
    The compound decomposed to ice and gas as expected in all experiments except those that involved rapid depressurization at temperatures from 240 to 270 K (Figure 3). In these experiments, the team found yet another surprise. Even after the pressure drop, the methane hydrate was “preserved” as a compound for as long as 25 hours before it decomposed.
    This behavior may have implications for future exploitation of the material. Preserving the mixed hydrates may be possible at an easily accessible temperature, just a few degrees below ice’s melting temperature.

    In another series of experiments, the team is looking at the strength of gas hydrate samples in various temperature and pressure scenarios. Results of these experiments may indicate the possible effects that stresses from gravity, tectonic activity, or human disturbance might have on gas hydrate deposits.
    Thus far, the team has found that water ice and methane hydrate have about the same strength at very low temperatures of 180 K and below. But the hydrate is much stronger than ice at temperatures of 240 K and above. The most recent data indicate that methane hydrate is several times stronger than ice (Figure 4). Although methane hydrate is not as strong as rock, the data may be good news for the stability of the deposits….

  240. Hank Roberts:

    Listening now, this is quite good, sober, serious, factual discussion; audio files and transcripts usually show at the program’s link after a few days.

    Report: Climate Change Already Having Major Impacts on California
    Mon, Aug 12, 2013 — 9:00 AM (radio program)
    Forum, Host: Penny Nelson
    Christopher Field, founding director of the Carnegie Institution’s Department of Global Ecology, professor of biology and environmental Earth system science at Stanford University and co-chair of Working Group II of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change
    Craig Miller, science editor for KQED
    Matt Rodriquez, California secretary for environmental protection

  241. prokaryotes:

    Hank (#235), if you attribute certain claims, the least one should do is to cite/quote the source. I have no idea what you talking about and i wonder why such strange comment makes it through the moderation.

  242. Hank Roberts:

    prokaryotes, see Gavin’s inline response earlier in the thread.

    I think you do know what people are talking about: the lack of evidence problem, for those doing the promotion of the methane emergency idea.

  243. Aleph Null:

    Many thanks to Gavin, Chris Colose, and Hank Roberts for applying some evidence-based reasoning to the Arctic methane issue.

    I keep seeing studies which find ever-greater levels of methane leaks from fracking. The practice keeps growing by leaps and bounds, and the latest study I know of measured 6 to 12 percent leakage rates. I’d like to see a comparison of total fugitive fracking emissions (assuming these measured rates are typical) with the evidence about Arctic methane sources. That could provide some useful perspective.

  244. prokaryotes:

    A Mechanism for Shallow Methane Hydrate dissociation http://climatestate.com/2013/08/12/a-mechanism-for-shallow-methane-hydrate-dissociation/

  245. Hank Roberts:

    I ranted earlier that the librarians are going missing from public conversations where they’re most needed.

    Turns out the schools are eliminating librarian jobs too.
    Damn. http://www.theatlanticwire.com/entertainment/2013/08/new-york-city-has-fewer-school-librarians-ever/68217/

  246. patrick:

    236 Make that: ““I’m going to just try to debug a few myths about consensus while I’m talking about my PhD research…” –John Cook


  247. Hank Roberts:

    pressure at 50 m. depth
    is about 0.6 MPa

  248. Kevin O'Neill:

    #235 Hank Roberts

    Hank, aren’t the methane fountains that are described by Are (2001) exactly what you’re saying hasn’t been published? I believe these were found in the shallow waters of the East Siberian Sea. Shakhova refers to them in one of her papers.

    Considerable gas levels in permafrost were revealed under the floor of Arctic seas and on land (Are, 2001). A particularly powerful gas discharge erupted from a well drilled through the sub-sea permafrost on the Pechora sea shelf; a gas–water fountain originated from the hole 50 m beneath the sediment surface (at a water depth of 64 m), and at one point the fountain rose 10 m above the ship. The echo sounding carried out at the drilling site 10 days after this event revealed an underwater fountain 10 m in diameter, with a height 40 m above the sea floor.

    Methane release and coastal environment in the East Siberian Arctic shelf, N. Shakhova, I. Semiletov, Journal of Marine Systems 66 (2007) 227–243

    [Response: One of the reason that hydrate deposits are not well mapped is precisely because drilling through them (100's of meters sub-seafloor) can lead to explosive releases of free gas and hydrate disassociation. This is not however the issue. - gavin]

  249. JCH:

    We do not wish to suggest which of the three possible explanations is the most probable, leaving this for others to decide. Quite possibly, all three factors contribute to some extent. But we hope that the need to understand the origin of the recent stagnation in global warming will accelerate efforts to achieve a more reliable simulation of climate variability on decadal time scales, and the ability to disentangle the relative contributions of forced (deterministic) and internal (stochastic) variability.

  250. Hank Roberts:

    Kevin, that’s gas in the permafrost, they say.

    That’s no surprise.

    What reason is there to think they tapped some high pressure reservoir that was keeping a methane hydrate stable at that depth (64 meters) at whatever temperature that seabed was? It’d have to be enormous pressure, if I read that stability curve right. But what they describe is bubbles coming up that don’t reach the surface, they dissolve into the ocean. That happens lots of places, and is a routine problem for gas drillers.

    Leaping from that to assume a clathrate existed at that depth would seem rather much — where is that site on the stability curve? What would the gas pressure be when the well hit gas, for that to be holding a hydrate together?

    Drillers would have the pressure records. They get blowouts from ordinary gas pockets and from drilling into hydrates deep in the sediment.

    Someone must know the answers, where are they?

  251. Hank Roberts:

    This seems to be reason for suggesting that near-surface hydrates might be found close under the shallow seabed separate from areas where they’re drilling for fossil fuels. Anyone know more?

    “… previously unknown species of methane hydrates, located outside oil and gas producing areas, have been found within the pores of near-surface continuous permafrost in northeastern Siberia (Chuvilin et al., 2000; Rivkina et al., 2004) …”

  252. prokaryotes:

    Hank Roberts #249 “But what they describe is bubbles coming up that don’t reach the surface, they dissolve into the ocean.”

    Seems you did not read the study paper(which i can highly recommend), since it describes pathway mechanism like ebullition. Heck, they even state “gas-water” fountain in the case Hank was referring to.

    Apparently this paper should be read before anyone starts to comment on ESAS hydrates, let alone criticize the science.

  253. Kevin O'Neill:

    # 249 Hank, they describe a gas-water fountain that originated from beneath the sub-sea permafrost. At 50m beneath the sediment surface and at 64m water depth and rose 10m above the ship. That’s not bubbles rising to the surface.

    10 days later the fountain was 10m wide and still rose nearly to the surface. I don’t know what kind of pressure it was under, but to throw the initial fountain 10m above the ship from a depth of 114m took a bit of pressure. It’s unclear whether this methane originated from clathrates.

    I doubt there are many drillers in the arctic. Most of the research seems to be in Russian with no English translations available.

  254. prokaryotes:

    We believe that a few additional points concerning mechanisms of methane ventilation to the atmosphere should be taken into consideration.

    First, the estimate assumes a diffusion mechanism for methane transport to the sea surface, but the most powerful mechanism for methane transport in shallow shelf areas is bubbling or ebullition (Chanton et al., 1989). Ebullition transports methane directly to the atmosphere, bypassing the mediating effects of an oxygenated sediment–water interface and water column. A common misunderstanding is that dissolved methane must exceed the solubility of the gas in water (roughly 1 mM at 20 °C and P CH4 = 1 atm) for bubbles to form. In fact, bubbles can form at methane concentrations well below saturation (Chanton et al., 1989).
    The proportion of methane bubbles that survives passing through the water column to reach the atmosphere generally depends on water depth and bubble size. It was shown by Semiletov et al. (1996)that from a depth of 10 m, bubbles with radius of 0.1 cm reach the air–water interface in 62 s losing only 15.1% of their methane. As mean depth within the study area was 123 m in 2003 and 13.1 m in 2004, we can assume that ignoring ebullition is a major gap in our estimates.

    Second, the Arctic Ocean has a natural trap for the gas bubbles — sea ice. During the freeze-up period gas bubbles are accumulated within ice structures in direct proportion to surface water saturation, and in inverse proportion to the speed of freeze-up (Zubov, 1938). Bubbles observed within the fast ice can reach up to 10 cm in diameter, and can completely deform the bottom of the fast ice. It is documented in the literature that after ice within Dmitri Laptev Strait was demolished using explosives (for the purpose of improving navigation) a flame of burning methane was seen (Zhigarev, 1997). We measured concentrations of methane beneath the ice (November, 1994) equal to 20,000 nM (Semiletov et al., 2004). When the ice begins to break up, methane accumulated beneath the ice may be abruptly released into the atmosphere.

    [Response: If this was a major mechanism then maximum atmospheric concentrations would be in September. It is not, it is in June - before the major retreat of the sea ice. - gavin]

    Third, ventilation of methane through the annual ice is possible because of its brine content. It was shown that methane was enriched in the air 2 m above the ice up to 4 ppm (Kelley and Gosink, 1979). In summer time (June) during the ice break period they measured concentration of methane in surface seawater increased up to 107 nM. A number of recent studies have shown that sea ice is highly permeable to gases through numerous tiny channels (Gosink et al., 1976; Semiletov et al., 2004). In addition, more than 1% of shelf area consists of open polynyas (Kulakov et al., 2003) providing a pathway for methane to escape during the winter period.

    [Response: Either the ice is a cap (point 3) or it isn't (point 4). Which is it? - gavin]

    Fourth, for the shallow ESAS, fall convection is particularly important in late September to early October (freeze-up period) when the probability of convection penetrating down to the seafloor can reach 40–50% (Kulakov et al., 2003). During the summer period the surface layer warmed up to 8.5 °C (Fig. 2); subsequent cooling during ice formation leads to vertical convection. Therefore, convective mixing may homogenize the concentration of dissolved methane in a body of water and increase super-saturation in the surface water following the significant release of methane into the atmosphere before ice formation is complete.

    [Response: Is the issue transport of methane from the sediments or release of dissolved methane (a tiny amount)? This is not relevant. - gavin]

    Fifth, it was mentioned above that the late summer period was much windier in 2004 than in 2003. Since the rate of gas exchange between the ocean surface and the atmosphere is a function of wind speed, this perturbation might have affected methane release substantially. Moreover, the changing of the relatively stable summer situation on the Arctic shelf to fall storm conditions appears to be a possible triggering mechanism for increasing the methane flux (Wanninkhof, 1992). In our estimates using long-term mean wind speed (6 m/s) instead of actual measured wind speed alters the resulting flux up to + 9 times.

    [Response: But this only affects the time to vent a particular mixed layer. It doesn't draw more methane out of the sediments. Thus the total flux doesn't change. - gavin]


    [Response: There is still no evidence of actual (thermodynamically unstable) shallow hydrates on ESAS. Sorry, but I'm not buying it. - gavin]

  255. prokaryotes:

    Re Steve Fish #220 “Moderators: Have you or your colleagues been intimidated into altering your published projections of sea level rise for the last 30 years, as suggested by Prokaryotes above?


    [Response: Not in the slightest. - gavin]”

    In the end of segment 2 of the following video James Hansen talks about intimidation and SLR

    Bush’s Climate Of Fear (2006)

    [Response: You can read all about this in the Inspector General's report on the incident(s). Everyone associated with that intimidation lost their jobs. However, this is no longer an issue and hasn't been (at NASA at least) since Michael Griffin's statement on scientific openness (in 2006). Using this to imply that everyone is currently being intimidated because they don't agree with you is neither logical nor true. - gavin]

  256. Hank Roberts:

    Look, it’s pointless to have a proxy argument. I’m not a researcher. Nor is prokaryotes or any of the others posting the methane emergency stuff. I’m a citation-checking skeptic. If there’s any actual reason to support the notion that there are methane hydrates that can exist outside the stability region — that’s big news for the chemists and physicists and someone will document it.

    If not, it’s scary big round numbers.

    [Response: Hear, hear. - gavin]

  257. prokaryotes:

    A Deadly Climb From Glaciation to Hothouse — Why the Permian-Triassic Extinction is Pertinent to Human Warming http://robertscribbler.wordpress.com/2013/08/12/a-deadly-climb-from-glaciation-to-hothouse-why-the-permian-triassic-extinction-is-pertinent-to-human-warming/#comment-4396

  258. Hank Roberts:

    > gas discharge erupted from a well

    That happens all the time with drilling — it’s a recognized, routine hazard, coming up a drill pipe — not a fountain out in the open ocean. When they looked at the seabed, later, they found methane dissolving. It’s not clear if they plugged or capped the drill pipe either.

    > If there’s any actual reason to support the notion that there are methane
    > hydrates that can exist outside the stability region — that’s big news …

    Such a molecule would be getting competitive in energy density with gasoline, wouldn’t it? A clathrate molecule stable at a few atmospheres’ pressure and above the freezing point of water — controllable — would be magic, transportable fuel. But has anyone got such a structure in mind?

    That would have to exist, for what they’re describing to be from shallow hydrates — but what unknown new form would that be?

    Seems like a great rumor hinting at a speculative opportunity, doesn’t it?

  259. prokaryotes:

    [Response: But this only affects the time to vent a particular mixed layer. It doesn't draw more methane out of the sediments. Thus the total flux doesn't change. - gavin]

    With less sea ice insulation this could very well be the case. This could be especially the case when the Jet Stream stuck over northern parts of Siberia or more frequent Arctic cyclone activity in the Arctic Circle.

    The Arctic Ocean traditionally has been described as an ocean with low variability and weak turbulence levels. Many years of observations from ice camps and ice-based instruments have shown that the sea ice cover effectively isolates the water column from direct wind forcing and damps existing motions, resulting in relatively small upper-ocean variability and an internal wave field that is much weaker than at lower latitudes. Under the ice, direct and indirect estimates across the Arctic basins suggest that turbulent mixing does not play a significant role in the general distribution of oceanic properties and the evolution of Arctic water masses. However, during ice-free periods, the wind generates inertial motions and internal waves, and contributes to deepening of the mixed layer both on the shelves and over the deep basins—as at lower latitudes. Through their associated vertical mixing, these motions can alter the distribution of properties in the water column. With an increasing fraction of the Arctic Ocean becoming ice-free in summer and in fall, there is a crucial need for a better understanding of the impact of direct wind forcing on the Arctic Ocean. http://www.tos.org/oceanography/archive/24-3_rainville.html

    [Response: Sure. But how is this supportive of your previous point? Methane emissions are not driven by the ocean/sediment gradient in dissolved methane, therefore changes in turbulence or mixing are not going to affect total flux, just the residence time (and saturation level) in the column. - gavin]

  260. prokaryotes:

    [Using this to imply that everyone is currently being intimidated because they don't agree with you is neither logical nor true. - gavin]
    Apparently i did not imply that. Instead i link to a quote, see my comment #216.

  261. prokaryotes:

    [Response: Sure. But how is this supportive of your previous point? Methane emissions are not driven by the ocean/sediment gradient in dissolved methane, therefore changes in turbulence or mixing are not going to affect total flux, just the residence time (and saturation level) in the column. - gavin]

    Can you link to that “previous point”? I’m unaware of making such point.

    The above cited Shakhova paper is very rich with gradient analysis.

    The vertical water density gradients are the strongest in the central area of the eastern ESS (between Lopatka Peninsula and Novaya Sibir Island) and in the zone influenced by the drifting ice edge (Kulakov et al., 2003). Within all these areas the high concentrations of dissolved methane were measured (Fig. 4a, spot 1; Fig. 4c, spot 6; Fig. 5b, all the area adjacent to the fast ice boundary), suggesting a subsurface methane source. Link (page 239)

    [Response: Well, if you are just posting random clips from papers without actually trying to make a point, forgive me if I get confused. If you are trying to argue that shallow hydrates are both currently an important source of methane to the atmosphere and that they are poised to become increasingly so, please provide evidence that such shallow hydrates actually exist. Note that the presence of methane does not imply the presence of hydrates, nor do fluctuations of surface fluxes, wind changes, or column amounts. If however you are simply trying to inform people about the fascinating details regarding methanogenesis in the Arctic, feel free to carry on. Either way, try and be a little clearer about the point you are trying to make. - gavin]

  262. prokaryotes:

    Thanks for this clarification gavin. Well, i have to admit i do not try to make a case or point (at least not yet). Though from time to time i ask some question or collect “clips” and combine them because i think they are related, which i share here in the comments. I do not endorse any kind of emergency or a particular scenario at all (at least not yet). If i post a particular scenario, it is only because i like to share the science and often hope to get some valuable input, that’s all :) I will try to make this more clear in the future, cheers!

    Though, but i feel overall we should be more cautious about the climate system and should reduce our emissions and introduce a carbon fee, as Hansen has suggested. (I guess that’s my endorsement)

  263. Tony Weddle:

    JHC, I find it odd that any climate scientist would not know about or cite the recent research done showing the the oceans are soaking up much of the heat, suppressing surface warming, or the work done by Foster and Rhamstorf showing a continuation of the underlying warming, when temporary factors are corrected for. However, the name of the lead author seems familiar ….

  264. Tony Weddle:

    I get that there is no evidence of shallow hydrates, despite what Peter Wadhams implies. However, I’ve read a number of comments elsewhere that what Shakhova is (also) talking about is free methane trapped under an undersea permafrost cap which is now degrading, offering pathways for the methane to escape. Someone commented on this in the SkepticalScience article but I’m still not sure if this represents the main threat that Shakhova, et al, are talking about. Comments?

    [Response: There is evidence for free gas and hydrates below the permafrost layers (around 200m below sea floor), and tectonic activity/faults can cause that to be released (and does), however to create new pathways via warming on anything like the scale being discussed would take hundreds of years because of the diffusion time from heat anomalies. Remember that this permafrost is a relic from the last ice age and so has been (slowly) thawing for thousands of years. - gavin]

  265. Hank Roberts:

    prokaryotes, on your website you list these Contributing
    Writers — quite a respectable list, if these are endorsements.
    They could help draft these self-links you post to be clearer.

    Contributing Writers

    Dana Nuccitelli / Skeptical Science
    Rasmus Benestad / RealClimate
    Ted Scambos / NSIDC
    Carl Franzen / The Verge
    Bill McGuire / UCL
    Clive Hamilton / CAPPE

  266. Kevin O'Neill:

    #254 Gavin inline, regarding ice cover as a methane-trapping ‘lid’ “If this was a major mechanism then maximum atmospheric concentrations would be in September. It is not, it is in June – before the major retreat of the sea ice. – gavin”

    I’m not sure I follow your logic here. The ice cover in the East Siberian Sea typically begins melting out in June and has virtually disappeared by the end of July. Depending on the geography of the melt and the location of any trapped gases, I would expect maximum concentrations in June or July – not September.

    [Response: I think it highly unlikely that the pan-Arctic methane level is determined solely by emissions from the ESAS. - gavin]

  267. Kevin McKinney:

    “…we should be more cautious about the climate system and should reduce our emissions and introduce a carbon fee, as Hansen has suggested…”

    I’d certainly re-endorse that notion (if that’s an allowable verb formation.)

  268. Grady Cash:

    A previous poster asked about reclaiming the world’s deserts and the potential impact on CO2. The YouTube video by Allan Savory can be seen here. His before and after photos make a strong visual case for his recommendations. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vpTHi7O66pI

  269. JCH:

    Tony Weddle says:

    Tony, people appear to think he’s properly accounted for that.

  270. prokaryotes:

    Again Hank, if you do not provide a “link” or a quote and ask me a question about what was not clear to you, i can not help you. I asked you on page 5, but you did not respond.

  271. prokaryotes:

    Worms Create Methane Release in Oceans http://climatestate.com/2013/08/13/worms-create-methane-release-in-oceans/

  272. Mal Adapted:

    Grady Cash:

    A previous poster asked about reclaiming the world’s deserts and the potential impact on CO2. The YouTube video by Allan Savory can be seen here. His before and after photos make a strong visual case for his recommendations. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vpTHi7O66pI

    His case may be strong for natural grassland ecosystems that developed under heavy grazing by native herbivores, and that have been desertified by overgrazing or other human activities. A strong case against his recommendations can be made for natural desert ecosystems like the Sonoran desert, and for that matter most of the Intermountain West of North America, which never had large herds of native grazing animals, and where the native flora is not adapted to heavy grazing.

    AGW is having a huge impact on ecosystems, adding to historic degradation due to human exploitation, but I’m against deliberately sacrificing the last remnants of wild nature to atone for our sins against climate.

  273. prokaryotes:

    Do Not Link allows you to ethically criticize bad content http://skeptools.wordpress.com/2013/08/13/do-not-link-donotlink-ethically-criticize-seo-nofollow/

  274. Hank Roberts:

    > prokaryotes … not clear
    See Gavin’s inline responses to you.

  275. prokaryotes:

    A user removes relevant content from a climate wiki http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Polar_amplification&curid=14414065&diff=568357540&oldid=568311346

  276. prokaryotes:

    Hank Roberts, these have nothing to do with your random claims and he is responding and able to communicate, something you always avoid.

  277. prokaryotes:

    Unicorns doled out for climate change deniers http://politicalticker.blogs.cnn.com/2013/08/13/unicorns-doled-out-for-climate-change-deniers/

  278. Jim Larsen:

    276 Prok said, “Hank Roberts, these have nothing to do with your random claims and he is responding and able to communicate, something you always avoid.”

    Speaking of communicating, what are “these”? And I haven’t seen any “random claims”. Hank’s been spot on topic. Degrading the conversation to baseless insults is counterproductive.

  279. prokaryotes:

    Changing Sea level budget and Semi-Empirical models http://www.glaciology.net/Home/Miscellaneous-Debris/changingbalanceofthebudgetandsemi-empiricalmodels

    How long will it stay linear?

  280. Susan Anderson:

    Prokaryotes, please calm down and read all Gavin’s responses (including the one to me) with a dispassionate eye, if you can. He is taking a lot of pains to make it clear this particular methane problem is only one of many, and the science does not support the clathrates bomb stuff just yet. He seems to be keeping an open mind; please do the same. Also please note that you are not in the borehole but front and center. I also suggest you emulate Neven who keeps an open mind.

    Nobody is saying we shouldn’t be very very worried. They just saying the hype on this one needs a mite more evidence before history is rewritten. There are a lot of different methane sources, and I find some of the others more worrying.

    Also, on your website/blog it is important to properly acknowledge your sources and your connection with them.

    Hank Roberts is a straight arrow. I too ran across him on this issue, but his objection caused me to back off a bit. The AMEG people are worthy of attention because they are trying to do something, but some of them have been known to exaggerate too.

  281. prokaryotes:

    Jim, you can read about baseless content from Hank here. Quote = I think you do know what people are talking about: the lack of evidence problem, for those doing the promotion of the methane emergency idea.

    I was asking him what he meant but he ignored my question. And now he is posting (265) Quote = They could help draft these self-links you post to be clearer.

    I have no idea what is not clear to Hank Roberts. Maybe he can shine some light to it? Otherwise it appears as he tries to muzzle the discussion around methane, i certainly do not promote any emergency idea.

  282. Hank Roberts:

    > … diffusion time from heat anomalies

    Gavin, let me put on the tinfoil hat for a moment and speculate.
    What worst case — if diffusion isn’t the limiting process — is imaginable?

    Supposing: say there’s this cap of permafrost with gas under it (not ‘shallow hydrates’ but what’s actually known). Suppose that layer gets a lot of drill holes punched through it, along with natural faulting, down to the depth where hydrates can exist.

    Suppose in one location there’s gas rising up through drill holes or faults, carrying cold water with it — water that has to be replaced from the surrounding sediment, if it’s too cold/deep for hydrates to dissociate there to fill the volume.

    Suppose down in the sediment there’s some horizontal layer of gravel, like an aquifer, connecting to another drill hole or fault that connects to the seabed vertically — so it’s available for replacement water from the seabed to travel down into the deep stratum and move laterally.

    That’s how an under-gravel-filter works in aquaria — air bubbles up in one spot carrying water with it; water moves down through the gravel, as long as the bubbles keep carrying water up: http://www.newaquariuminformation.com/pictures/under-gravel-aquarium-filter.jpg

    So, worst imaginable case, an active circulation carrying relatively warmer water down to where it’s potentially transferring heat to known deep hydrates.

    With a tip of the tinfoil hat to the methane emergency people — this is one scenario I can imagine where any drilling into the area where gas extraction is now being planned could, maybe, cause problems rather larger than gas coming up single drill pipes, if warm water could get sucked down to where (real, known) hydrates could get warmed up.

    Whether such horizontal conduits exist, I dunno. I recall speculating along the same lines years ago about whether diffusion is the limit on how heat propagates through glacial icecaps, or whether fluid flow might carry enough heat to make a difference. As far as I know that was pure science fiction on my part, the magnitude is trivial, so this notion probably is too.

    I’m doing an exercise of “what could these people be seeing or imagining, to be saying what they’re saying” — trying to come up with some notion.

  283. Radge Havers:

    @ grist


    The core of Edwards’ argument is that “advocacy by climate scientists has damaged trust in the science.” Unfortunately, she offers no evidence to support that proposition. Instead her post links to a series of Twitter and blog conversations taking place among the comparatively tiny group of professionals who are involved with climate change and care about these kinds of things. (Note to Edwards: Drawing on blog comments to make one’s argument is not a sign of confidence.)

    …In fact, polls show that the broad public trusts scientists more than anyone else on climate change.

    …What has happened over the past 40 years is a steady erosion in the trust conservatives hold in science and scientists.

    …The process was accelerated in recent decades by the rise of a conservative alternative media,

    …So scientists can be as studiously neutral as they want. It will make no substantial difference. The battle is over cultural identity; it will be long, and messy, and the outcome is unlikely to have much to do with how scientists behave.

    OTOH, I’m not seeing anyone else sorting it out very well.

  284. prokaryotes:

    Susan Anderson #280,”on this one needs a mite more evidence before history is rewritten.”

    “This one” (i guess you refer to the recent nature study on economic lose.)
    However i do not endorse this study anywhere.

    Susan Anderson #280, “Also, on your website/blog it is important to properly acknowledge your sources and your connection with them.”

    All sources are properly cited, if you find a particular source not correct cited you can inform me by using the contact form or in the comments.

  285. Kevin O'Neill:

    #266 [Response: I think it highly unlikely that the pan-Arctic methane level is determined solely by emissions from the ESAS. - gavin]

    Gavin, I merely remarked on the logic of your statement in #255 that ice-cover as a lid would not show until September. I made no statement whatsoever regarding pan-arctic methane levels. I don’t know anyone claiming that emissions from the ESAS are the determinant factor in pan-arctic methane levels. These would, I believe, be mainly land sources. The ESAS would be the dominant ocean source.

    I do find it interesting that, per N.Shakhova, “…the amount of methane annually escaping from the ESAS is equal to that escaping from the entire World Ocean…” If my recollection is correct, this fact wasn’t known just 10 or 12 years ago. If we went back 10 years ago would it have been a well-received hypothesis that the ESAS releases as much methane as the entire World Ocean?

  286. Hank Roberts:

    Mention of seabed structure promised here (abstract only at the link; no other copy and no DOI in Scholar at the moment, sorry to say)

    Determining the response of hydrate offshore Svalbard to ocean warming during the next century
    (the “fulltext article” link above goes to the abstract):

    Geophysical Research Abstracts
    Vol. 15, EGU2013-3300-1, 2013
    EGU General Assembly 2013
    Héctor Marín Moreno (1), Tim Minshull (1), Graham Westbrook (1), Bablu Sinha (2), and Sudipta Sarkar (1)

    (1) National Oceanography Centre Southampton, University of Southampton, Southampton, United Kingdom, (2) National Oceanography Centre, Southampton, United Kingdom

    Anyone have access to the full text?
    Do they have pictures/figures?
    Depth info, at least, must be there.

    Quoting a bit from the abstract:

    … Based on a recently published modelling study, offshore of Svalbard the methane release is occurring predominantly in a region where hydrate is likely to have been destabilised by ocean warming over the past 30 years. However, the future significance of this methane release remains uncertain.

    … Here, we use the TOUGH+Hydrate code to model hydrate growth and dissociation in response to a range of possible future ocean temperature scenarios in the Svalbard region obtained from climate models…. Below the seabed the structure and stratigraphy of the sediments and their gas and hydrate contents are constrained using high-resolution and very-high-resolution seismic data acquired in 2008, 2011 and 2012 and wide-angle seismic data acquired in 2008 and 2011.

    Seismic data, yea.

  287. prokaryotes:

    Depth is not necessarily a good indicator for Methane Hydrate stability, since according to some studies.

    Fresh water is less dense than salty water, so the fresh water pulses from glaciers and melting ice bergs will act as a wedge, driving the denser, warmer, saltier water toward the bottom

    With all the changes in ocean currents and freshwater runoff from increased melt rates in the Arctic region and with all the extra heat from loss of sea ice it is possible that the added energy goes to the bottom.

  288. Tony Weddle:

    Gavin, this confused me (from this post):

    [Response: If this was a major mechanism then maximum atmospheric concentrations would be in September. It is not, it is in June - before the major retreat of the sea ice. - gavin]

    Looking at the data from ESRL stations in and around the Arctic (e.g. Alert, Nunavut) the maximum concentrations seem to be around Feb/March time, with minimums around July/August. Of course, this still doesn’t jive with the theory you were answering but I just wondered why you’re stating something different from what it seems the data are showing? Am I misinterpreting something?

  289. Doug:

    # 265 Hank,
    I asked a question on real climate and found out later that remarkably, Prokaryotes had copy pasted it to his blog, as if I had asked it there. I was even given credit for having asked it there. So, I guess I am in good company with all the contributing writers listed on his site. (:

  290. Chuck Hughes:

    I’ve been following the conversation closely about possible “methane bombs” and I’m convinced as per Gavin Schmidt, Hank Roberts et al that we probably should refocus our attention on more pressing issues such as mitigation and public awareness. Speaking for myself as a non scientist and listening to the concerns of other readers around the internet, I’m down to just asking basic questions about the coming decades and the future of the next several generations of young people.

    One thing I would like to know is the likelihood of global temperature averages surpassing the 2C mark and possibly hitting 4 degrees Celsius by the end of this century. Is that a habitable temperature?

    I know time doesn’t stop at 2100 as others on here have pointed out but I figure if we’re sitting at 4 degrees celsius increase by 2100, it will be pretty tough going for humans. This is of course assuming we don’t see drastic cuts in CO2 emissions within the next ten years or so. I’m also assuming we will easily surpass the two degree increase no matter what we do, so if we hit 500ppm, what will that mean for global average temperature and is that pretty easy to calculate? Thanks.

  291. Kevin McKinney:

    “Fresh water is less dense than salty water, so the fresh water pulses from glaciers and melting ice bergs will act as a wedge, driving the denser, warmer, saltier water toward the bottom…”

    That–as written–seems as implausible a statement as I’ve read in quite a while. I mean, what’s at the bottom already? So there’s increasing stratification at the top of (by implication in this context) at least 270 meters of ocean water. Is that going to affect the bottom conditions greatly? Surely the *cold* salty water that’s down there already won’t be destabilized. And I’d think there would be a hell of a lot more of it than the surface freshwater.

    Now, maybe given more context, this idea could actually make sense. (Maybe in connection with other constraints, like horizontal spatial structure?) But as stated here, I have a reaction of incredulity, I’m afraid.

    Is this from a paper, and, if so, which? I find it a bit hard to tell from the website.

  292. prokaryotes:

    Apparently Hank’s comments in #265 created more confusion. I thought it is pretty obvious that the author’s mentioned contributed content to the 1st issue of ClimateState, a magazine issue which was released in June 2013. Skeptical Science reported it here.

    The article “Doug” mentions in #289 can be found here, a very interesting read i hope, and i welcome any feedback in the comments – under that article.

  293. prokaryotes:

    Kevin, all quotes and content is cited. Just click those links called “Source” at the end of each text part. However, here is the link to the quote you was referring to

    Even more ominously, a wedge of cold water at the surface spreading out from the poles would push hotter, saltier water toward the ocean bottom. Fresh water is less dense than salty water, so the fresh water pulses from glaciers and melting ice bergs will act as a wedge, driving the denser, warmer, saltier water toward the bottom The net effect of such changes would be a shallower and weaker ocean circulation system as more warm water is averted toward the ocean bottom near the equator and then spreads northward and as warmer surface waters toward the poles and temperature regions are driven toward the sea-bed.


  294. Edward Greisch:

    How flammable or explosive is the air above those methane bubble-ups in the Arctic ocean? Researchers could get burned. They should stand a few miles away and fire an incendiary bullet across it before sailing close. If it burns, they can measure the fire from space.

    [Response: To burn, CH4 needs to be above ~5% per volume of air. That is 5 orders of magnitude higher than observed concentrations. - gavin]

  295. Hank Roberts:

    > from a paper, and, if so, which?

    That post has a period and paragraph break following the words “according to some studies” — probably should be a colon and blockquote, if it’s a quote from some study. The attribution link points to his climatestate blog.

    Citation’s not easy to do well.

    Gavin asked for DOI links, which are stable and permanent references.
    Providing those links to studies is a good practice.

  296. flxible:

    Apparently Hank’s comments in #265 created more confusion. I thought it is pretty obvious that the author’s mentioned contributed content to the 1st issue of ClimateState …

    I think it’s yourself who creates the confusion. My read is that nobody has “contributed content”, rather you are collating ‘stuff’ [you think important] by pasting content from all over the place. As for Dougs comment above, your use of barely noticeable light blue for links makes it less than obvious that you had lifted his question from here at RC. What Hank is saying is you should be making it very explicit where your content is actually from.

  297. Hank Roberts:

    > flammable or explosive
    Only where a concentrated puff of gas is channeled into the air, as you see in those pictures of flames above holes in ice, or on drilling rigs. See the table on this page: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flammability_limit

    But remember, bubbles rising from the seabed may contain CO2 as well as or instead of methane.

    Bubbles rising through seawater exchange gases with the surrounding water — the methane is very soluble in water, so a bubble reaching the surface isn’t the same gas that escaped from the seabed — gas is exchanged across the surface of the bubble with the surrounding water as the bubble rises.

    Modeling of methane bubbles released from large sea-floor area: Condition required for methane emission to the atmosphere
    21 June 2009, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.epsl.2009.05.026

    Enhanced lifetime of methane bubble streams within the deep ocean
    7 AUG 2002, DOI: 10.1029/2001GL013966

    Serious work’s being done identifying what’s actually coming out, e.g.

    Simultaneous Analysis of Noble Gases, Sulfur Hexafluoride, and Other Dissolved Gases in Water
    Environ. Sci. Technol., 2013, 47 (15), pp 8599–8608
    DOI: 10.1021/es401698p
    (where, interestingly, supersaturation of gases was observed due to circulation of warm water through the gravel bed – small artificial lake)

    I’m an amateur poking at what I find; I hope the conversation here will sound interested enough and respectful enough of the actual work being done that the thread will attract thoughtful responses, eventually, from more of the scientists working in the area.

  298. Jim Larsen:

    Edward G,

    The risk is minimal. Something dense enough to ignite fiercely would be quite small in area. And scientists measuring methane surely know when to back off. If you look, you can find photos of scientists deliberately venting methane on a lake and setting it on fire.


    Sorry, your quote of Hank’s seemed crystal clear to me.

    It isn’t a methane bomb, but a methane fizzle. As Gavin pointed out, this has been going on through the entire holocene. Different bits of methane in different states at different depths in different climates on land and sea don’t all come out at once. But then again, time doesn’t end in 2100.

  299. Kevin McKinney:

    #287, 293–Thanks for elaborating. But I’m still a bit bemused: the context for #287 was methane hydrates; the context for the ‘source’ was possible future Heinrich events consequent to a rapid and near-total melt of Greenland. (Well, OK, that would certainly supply *lots* of fresh water, and would help supply the context that I wrote of in my comment.)

    But the speculative chronology here seems a tad jumbled, if I’m following all this correctly.

  300. prokaryotes:

    flxible #296, Nope, all authors were informed, all sources are correct cited. Though i feel we addressed enough chatter now about ClimateState. For further “concerns” regarding content at ClimateState you are welcome to voice your constructive feedback over at that site.

  301. Hank Roberts:

    All I can see is the abstract, not the figures, but this may help:


    Continental Shelf Research
    Volume 22, Issue 16, November 2002, Pages 2409–2428

    Gas in Marine Sediments: Contributions from the 5th International Conference orgainsed by the Shallow Gas Group, Bologna, Italy, September 1998

    The bubble mechanism for methane transport from the shallow sea bed to the surface: A review and sensitivity study

    Bubbles transport methane (CH4) released from the sea bed to the surface while exchanging gas with the surrounding aqueous environment. The fraction of CH4 released at the surface depends upon the release depth, bubble size, dissolved gas concentrations, temperature, surface-active substances, and bulk fluid motions—particularly the upwelling flow…. A strong sensitivity to several environmental parameters … (one or more orders of magnitude, depending upon initial bubble size and depth) were found for both aqueous CH4 concentration and upwelling flows.

    … This research seeks to provide all the necessary parameterizations and theoretical background to allow modeling of CH4 bubble streams for diverse marine conditions.

  302. prokaryotes:


    #287, 293–Thanks for elaborating. But I’m still a bit bemused: the context for #287 was methane hydrates; the context for the ‘source’ was possible future Heinrich events consequent to a rapid and near-total melt of Greenland. (Well, OK, that would certainly supply *lots* of fresh water, and would help supply the context that I wrote of in my comment.)

    I just updated the post with this study, which is supplemental to the discussion.

    Deep Arctic Ocean warming during the last glacial cycle

    Here we estimate intermediate water temperatures over the past 50,000 years from the Mg/Ca and Sr/Ca values of ostracods from 31 Arctic sediment cores. From about 50 to 11 kyr ago, the central Arctic Basin from 1,000 to 2,500 m was occupied by a water mass we call Glacial Arctic Intermediate Water. This water mass was 1–2 °C warmer than modern Arctic Intermediate Water, with temperatures peaking during or just before millennial-scale Heinrich cold events and the Younger Dryas cold interval. We use numerical modelling to show that the intermediate depth warming could result from the expected decrease in the flux of fresh water to the Arctic Ocean during glacial conditions, which would cause the halocline to deepen and push the warm Atlantic Layer into intermediate depths. Although not modelled, the reduced formation of cold, deep waters due to the exposure of the Arctic continental shelf could also contribute to the intermediate depth warming.


  303. AIC:

    wmar posted this on DotEarth

    What is this about? Considering the source, it is probably bogus, but I would like an expert opinion.

    Luciano Lepori S, Gian Carlo Bussolino, Andrea Spanedda and Enrico Matteoli
IPCF-CNR, Pisa, Italy

”The isotope ratio C13/C12of atmospheric CO2has been measured over the last decades using mass spectrometry. From these data the fraction of fossil CO2in atmospheric CO2is straightforwardly calculated: 5.9 %(1981) and 8.5 %(2002). These results indicate that the amount of past fossil fuel and biogenic CO2 remaining in the atmosphere, though increasing with anthropogenic emissions, did not exceed in 2002 66 GtC, corresponding to a concentration of 31 ppm, that is 3 times less than the CO2 increase (88 ppm, 24 %) occurred in the last century. This low concentration (31 ppm) of anthropogenic CO2in the atmosphere is consistent with a lifetime of t(1/2) = 5.4 years, that is the most reliable value among other in the range 2-13 years, obtained with different measurements and methods. Contrary to the above findings on the concentration of fossil CO2and its residence time in the atmosphere, in the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change it is stated that almost 45 % of anthropogenic emissions, corresponding to 88 ppm or 24 % of the total CO2, have remained in the atmosphere with a mean lifetime of t(1/2) = 30.5 years. On these assumptions are based both the theory of Anthropogenic Global Warming and the climate models.”

  304. AIC:

    An Internet search found that this came from Hockey Schtick, and is now rattling around the denialosphere.

    Luciano Lepori S, Gian Carlo Bussolino, Andrea Spanedda and Enrico Matteoli C
    IPCF-CNR, Pisa, Italy

    “A paper presented at the SEVENTEENTH SYMPOSIUM ON THERMOPHYSICAL PROPERTIES finds that the lifetime and residence time of man-made CO2 in the atmosphere are only about 5.4 years, far less than assumed by the IPCC. The paper corroborates prior work by Salby, Humlum et al, Frölicher et al, Cho et al, Calder et al, Francey etl, Ahlbeck, Pettersson, Segalstad, and others which has demonstrated that man-made CO2 is not the primary driver of atmospheric CO2.”

    The linked symposium was in 2009. Seems like this paper would have received more notice by now if it was legit. Wonder if they made a simple arithmetic error.

    I did a search of RealClimate and found nothing about any of the authors, so apparently this one has not been covered before.

  305. Steve Fish:

    Re- Comment by prokaryotes — 14 Aug 2013 @ 8:35 AM

    I followed the link you provided for Kevin McKinney in this post and there is no science there. You linked to a blog that wrote what you quoted but the statement is not referenced, in the blog, to any science in a refereed journal. Actually there is no scientific reference for this set of stated facts at all except for some vague referral to Hansen’s work at the beginning of the multipart article. This is not how science is communicated. What is said may be correct or not, there is just no way for readers to check it without referral to some actual science.


  306. Hank Roberts:

    hm. Interesting attention this got:

  307. Marco:

    AIC @304: the “mathematical” mistake appears to be that they have mistaken the half life of a single CO2 molecule with the half life of *excess* CO2.

    Possibly someone pointed that out at the conference.

  308. prokaryotes:

    Steve Fish #305

    the statement is not referenced, in the blog, to any science in a refereed journal. This is not how science is communicated.

    Yes, im aware of this – judging the author’s expertise based on previous content and because it’s a physical process description, which reduces the margin of error. I also believe that this is exactly how active research works, since at one point a study will weight in or someone will point out the obvious with better sources and or data.

  309. Tony Weddle:

    I’ve been reminded of how methane is broken down, via hydroxyl radicals, as a partial answer to my question. This explains the undulating pattern of methane concentrations in the Arctic atmosphere, though doesn’t explain why Gavin’s response (mentioned in my question) appeared to state a different pattern from what we see in the data. A supplemental question is: can this pattern of methane concentration variation, due to how hydroxyl radicals accumulate in the Arctic atmosphere, overwhelm an hypothesised significant release of sub-sea free methane below the permafrost in the ESAS?

  310. Radge Havers:

    Chuck Hughes @ 290

    “Is that a habitable temperature?”

    What does ‘habitable’ mean? Look at the news. In the world’s trouble spots you see people adjusting their expectations and going about their business under pretty extreme circumstances. By 2100, no matter what happens, what life was actually like in 2013 will be for most a forgotten shadow in some mythic past. As for us, we can only see the broadest outlines of what the future might be like.

    For that, see the chapter on four degrees in the book “Six Degrees” by Mark Lynas.


  311. Steve Fish:

    Re- Comment by prokaryotes — 15 Aug 2013 @ 1:49 AM

    This is not “exactly how active research works.” It does not! Even the most personal scientific interactions regarding interpretation of one’s own data or even extravagant extrapolations always involve commonly known or overt reference to the research of others. Scientific information very rarely arises de novo. Just look at any research article, scientific review, the topic starter posts here at Real Climate, or Michael Mann’s “The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars” book, that was written for general consumption, to see appropriate attribution. In scientific communication when further clarification or support for a statement is requested, it is a strong value that this be supplied as soon as possible.

    Documentation is necessary for science to proceed efficiently and in any case it is just plain impolite not to make original and supporting information immediately available. Bloggers who do not do this cannot be easily checked and can lead readers astray because of ignorance or intent. This is how Watts and his ilk get away with twisting facts. The problem is made much worse when a blogger quotes another’s unreferenced writing because it can go “viral” and thereby become incorrect common knowledge.


  312. Hank Roberts:

    > it’s a physical process description, which reduces the margin of error.
    > …
    > I also believe that this is exactly how active research works, …
    > someone will point out the obvious with better sources and or data.

    That’s the “Climate Etc.” approach, I believe.
    You’re depending on the kindness of strangers.
    Good luck with that.

    If you change your mind about your approach, I recommend, for example:


    Science moves forward only by building upon the work of others. There are, however, other reasons for citing references in scientific research papers. Citations to appropriate sources show that you’ve done your homework and are aware of the background and context into which your work fits, and they help lend validity to your arguments. Reference citations also provide avenues for interested readers to follow up ….”



    Science works by carefully examining the evidence supporting different hypotheses and building on those that have the most support. Journalism and policies that falsely grant all viewpoints the same scientific legitimacy effectively undo one of the main aims of science: to weigh the evidence.

    and, whenever it’s available, use DOI

  313. Kevin McKinney:

    Of course, it’s just [extreme] weather:


    ‘Dozens’ dead of flooding, and further ‘dozens’ dead from the heat. One city apparently hit 42.7 C.

    They expect it will moderate soon, after weeks of heatwave.

  314. prokaryotes:

    A new study explores Climate Extremes and the Carbon Cycle,

    As extreme weather events become more frequent because of climate change, climate researchers believe their impacts on ecosystems could cause a vicious cycle of extreme weather, Reichstein said. “That is scientifically the most interesting question,” he said. “We cannot answer how strong this vicious cycle is.
    Increasing carbon dioxide emissions cause a warming climate and, associated with that, increase the intensity of extreme events.” And those extreme events may damage ecosystems, causing them to absorb less carbon dioxide and allow more of that carbon dioxide to remain in the atmosphere, intensifying the warming of the planet

  315. Complex guy:

    Well, something totally off the methane stuff. It is swirling in my mind for quite some time now, but, we always hear that, in order to keep warming below 2 degrees this century, we must keep co2 at or below 450 ppm.We are currently at 400.

    Yet with all the other GHG’s, I’ve heard that we have a forcing of about 470 ppm co2 equivalent. Doesn’t make this circumstance any in that we could keep warming below two degrees moot? Maybe one of the moderators might answer that, because I am very confused. What do I get wrong?

    [Response: Aerosols are a negative forcing, and so taking everything into account we are still at 400 CO2 equivalent. But there are bigger uncertainties in the aerosol part. - gavin]

  316. Complex guy:

    Thanks Gavin!

  317. Susan Anderson:

    Communication: Kahan, Mike Mann, Tom (Office of Science and Technology) with a cameo by Gavin Schmidt (about minute 55)


    Plenary: Credibility, Trust, Goodwill and Persuasion: (from 9:15 am Aug 16 (today))

    Dr. Tom Armstrong, White House Office of Science and Technology Policy
    Dr. Dan Kahan, Yale University
    Dr. Michael Mann, Penn State University

  318. Hank Roberts:

    > a new study explores
    Found that quote with ‘oogle on four blogs;

    this is the oddest of them so far:

    Arctic Ice Imploding, Methane Releasing
    Aug 16, 2013 – 7:21 PM – by Geo Watch

    I sure hope some communications thesis is being written on how this stuff spreads.

  319. Kevin McKinney:

    Tangentially related to some of the comments and concerns above, my latest article:


    Feedback welcome… no pun intended.

  320. Radge Havers:

    Kevin McKinney @ 319

    Looked good what I could read of it on my iPad. The pop-up ad thingie at the bottom of your page seemed to cause all kinds of problems with your layout on scrolling: flashing, changing size, jumping around..

    At least you didn’t have a slide show. I hate those things.

  321. Kevin McKinney:

    #320–Thanks, and sorry for the inconvenience…

  322. Hank Roberts:

    A tidbit: Flooding the Australian desert to grow trees might not work well:
    “…. Beneath the arid surface of Western Australia are hundreds of limestone deposits honeycombed with small holes and filled with water. Each of these deposits is teeming with life. And in each case it’s different.
    … Under Western Australian law, it is illegal to drive a species to extinction ….”

  323. Alastair McDonald:

    I read some of your piece, which was good but rather long and that is why I did not read it all.

    Ten years ago I was told by a senior professor that he and Wally Broeker thought we had twenty year to take action. That would mean we still have 10 years. However, the following year he told me that the Greenland ice sheet had begun to melt. Since its melting has a positive feedback, there is no way to prevent its complete melting unless we reduce the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere. The +ve feedback is because as it melts its height decreases bringing the surface into warmer air, at the lapse rate of the 6.5K per 1 km. Therefore we are already too late to prevent sea level rise, unless we can find some way to reduce CO2 levels.

    We can already see how a positive feedback is destroying the Arctic sea ice.

    The problem is that if we say it is too late, then people think there is no point in taking action. But we should do all we can to prevent other disasters occurring, such as desertification spreading from Texas up into the Corn Belt.

    Cheers, Alastair.

  324. Alastair McDonald:

    I am not sure this is an appropriate place to ask this question, so if you can suggest a better place that would be almost as good as an answer.

    I heard somewhere that in the 19th Century an American Lady did some experiments with glass jars filled with carbon dioxide, but because she was female she was not able to publish her results and they were reported in a scientific journal by a male friend.

    Does anyone have a citation for the report? I’ve tried searching with Google Scholar but I don’t really have the right keywords to find it there.


    Cheers, Alastair.

  325. patrick:

    319 Kevin McKinney, your latest article is great and deserves a lot of comment. Not least for the story in which it is framed. It’s a lesson in good communication–and how one comes to it. Richard Somerville is one of the right men at the right time, and so are you.

  326. Hank Roberts:

    Weather forecast for the North Pole (chance of rain, at the moment)
    (or any other location you like)

  327. Kevin McKinney:

    #324, 325–Thanks, Alaistair. Hubpages powers that be would like to keep articles to 1200 words or less. That’s a struggle for me… but your comment suggests they know whereof they speak…

    Patrick, thank you very much. Sure hope you’re at least half right! (Inasmuch as I agree with you about Somerville, I suppose I think you are!)

  328. Marcus:

    I would like to point the regarded attention of the readers and experts here to the following article about late bronze age decline of culturesn the eastern mediterranean sea due to (local?) climate shift

    ” Environmental Roots of the Late Bronze Age Crisis”


    This has the potential of creating lots of missinterpretation and spin, what do You think.


  329. Hank Roberts:

    Sad to see ‘Hubpages’ promotes their “Discover More Hubs” links with big clickable pictures between your writing and the comments there — and the ones they promote are mostly denial, when I looked.

  330. Mal Adapted:

    Kevin McKinney, from your reply to Mitch Allen at the Hubpages link:

    You’ll have to do a little better than restate the obvious if you wish to persuade.

    By itself, that’s a succinct rejoinder to all but the most sophisticated denialist. I’m adopting it as my personal motto!

  331. Kevin McKinney:

    #329–Thanks for ckecking it out, Hank. I think the layout can vary depending upon platform, and they tweak it all the time.

    Last few comments have been forgettable, featuring much ado about ‘flash-frozen mammoths’, which suggests Creation ‘Science’ is lurking nearby.

  332. Susan Anderson:

    Some of you might like a look at this:


  333. Chuck Hughes:

    Is this accurate?

    “On our current emissions path, the main question the ECS answers is whether 9°F warming happens closer to 2080, 2100, or 2120 — hardly a cause for any celebration. Quite the reverse. Warming beyond 7F is “incompatible with organized global community, is likely to be beyond ‘adaptation’, is devastating to the majority of ecosystems & has a high probability of not being stable (i.e. 4°C [7F] would be an interim temperature on the way to a much higher equilibrium level,” as climate expert Kevin Anderson explains here…”



  334. Kevin McKinney:

    #332–A nice piece of writing–and the images are indeed gorgeous, if disquieting. Thanks, Susan!

  335. Kevin McKinney:

    #333–To offer some minor-league help to the moderators, who in several cases have probably made undertakings not to comment on AR5 prior to release, I’m going to say that in my uninformed opinion the leak is apt to be accurate. But we’ll know quite soon now; September isn’t far away.

  336. Hank Roberts:

    > Chuck Hughes … is this accurate?

    What “this” are you asking about, Chuck?

    To get a copy of the advance draft text of the IPCC report for yourself, you only have do do one thing: agree not to show it around while it’s still in draft form — because it’s not final while it’s being discussed and revised.

    So what “this” are you asking about?
    Is it true someone claims to have a leaked copy of some draft or other? Yes.
    Is what someone claims they saw in a leaked draft the final text? No.

    Is what the DailyKos piece says correct?

    Let me paraphrase:

    The change from five years ago is less uncertainty, same bad news. Yes.

    Assuming we keep going in the direction we’re headed, our grandchildren will end up there.


    There are people who won’t be convinced by anything short of hysteria, because that’s the standard mode of discourse for everything they see from ads for everything from toothpaste to politicians. And there are those who serve that stuff up in that form because “it communicates.”

    Look at the comments on the link you posted — it’s all methane emergency. Likely some paid position blogspammers, mostly real people really worried about the PR, all dumping into any convenient discussion more of the same.

    So — ask yourself, what “this” do you wonder is true?
    The temperature projections? Read the last IPCC report for yourself.
    Remember, it’s a conservative, dated summary of science from before it was published. Notice the changes over time, few that there are, from one IPCC report to the next. Doubt decreases, details are added, same basic “this” there each time it’s published.

  337. Hank Roberts:

    IPCC I: Uh!
    IPCC 2: Uh oh!
    IPCC 3: Oh!
    IPCC 4: Oh! oh!
    IPCC 5: Oops!
    IPCC 6: Hey, who could have imagined ….?

  338. Kevin McKinney:

    #337–Amusing, but I’d have thought we were getting into the ‘Oh, crap!’ range here…

    Captcha turns [mercenary] denialist: “never ympaidd”

  339. patrick:


    “If you want to take home one slide from what I have to say, I’d highly recommend this slide. And I’d like to walk you through it… The three curves here represent three possible scenarios…

    (Emissions pathways to give 67% chance of limiting global warming to 2 degrees C or 3.6 degrees F above 19th century pre-industrial temperatures.)

    “What it says is that there’s a certain amount of CO2 that you can have in the atmosphere and no more [to limit global warming to 2 degrees C]… it says that…it’s better to start reducing emissions right away–because then you can glide down with reductions of 3 or 4 percent per year. If you wait until 2015 before you reduce them, then, to meet this goal, you have to decrease them by about 5 percent per year. And if you’re going to procrastinate and dither (as the world has done) until 2020, then you must reduce them by this rate, here–which, economists will tell you, is essentially difficult or impossible to do…

    “I didn’t draw this graph…but I named it: I call it the ‘ski slope diagram’: this is the bunny slope here, and this is the intermediate ski slope–and this red line is the double-black-diamond expert slope.”

    “So that’s where the “Urgency” in my title comes from. It says this is not an issue like…tariffs…or trade agreements… This is something that…nature puts a time limit on. –Richard Somerville

    For a clearer view of the slide, see minute 29:13 of the full presentation here:


    This is the 4th Annual Charles Keeling Memorial Lecture (11March): “The Scientific Case for Urgent Action to Limit Climate Change.” Ralph Keeling introduces Somerville, who starts with notes on Charles Keeling’s work–plus a commemorative artwork in the great hall of the National Academy of Sciences. I don’t know what the work is called, but I’d call it: what-time-it-is or how-we-got-here.

  340. Chuck Hughes:

    Hank, what I keep asking myself is this…. Are we really gonna drive ourselves into a wall? I don’t see any political action or will other than the President’s speech in June. North Carolina just passed legislation that states that officials cannot use the words, “Sea Level Rise” when describing the loss of coastal land. Park rangers can’t say the words “Climate Change” when talking to campers and tourists. Massive fires out West. Flooding in the East. Fires and flooding in Russia etc. At what point do people start to understand the situation? Yeah, every IPCC report gets more detailed and graphic about what we’re facing but who’s listening that has the power to do anything about it? How much time do we have before the proverbial “sh*t hits the fan?” Was James Lovelock right about his predictions a few years ago?

    I’m not doing any hand wringing or talking about methane bombs and I’m really not in a panic. I’ve more or less resigned myself to the fact that the human population is not going to take this seriously no matter what the IPCC says or Al Gore or anyone else. I just can’t believe that humans are really going to allow this to continue to the point there’s nothing that can be done. I guess you could say I’m amazed and dumbfounded. If I truly understand “this” situation the way I think I do, it’s really hard to wrap my brain around. I want to make sure I completely understand and have a firm grasp of the circumstances, which is why I keep asking questions. If the IPCC says we’re headed for 9F of warming, that’s well over 2C. That means we’re gonna lose a lot of people if my understanding is correct. Thanks.

  341. Hank Roberts:

    > amazed and dumbfounded

    Well, yeah. It’s a stretch to understand what we’re doing.

    I’m always bemused to read a new writer finding and starting to understand Catton on _Overshoot_, as for example


    On the underlying problems, there’s good writing and thinking going back a century or more — that almost nobody’s ever read, near as I can tell.
    Decent summary here:

    Transgovernance 2013 Advancing Sustainability
    Alexander Perez-Carmona1
    Research fellow at the Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies, Potsdam, Germany

    Growth: A Discussion of the Margins of Economic and Ecological Thought


    “… Challenging economic growth started in the late 1960s, when some economists and natural scientists began to understand that the pursuit of perpetual economic growth was physically impossible. It will eventually end. Ignoring this physical impossibility, they argued, would bring a wide array of evils, that is, it would make ecological problems more intractable …”


    “… In the list of economic assumptions nature was missing. ‘Land’ had been long since reduced to merely an input factor, deprived of all environmental functions and any traditional social meaning; and the newly re-emphasised ‘externality’ was seen rather as an exceptional case, therefore constituting a half-hearted ad hoc recognition of the sink function of nature in the economic process. As historian McNeill (2000: 335) put it: … Anglo-American economists (after about 1880) took nature out of economics’. The expansion of ecological problems was caused by the fact that economists were living in the ‘cowboy economy’ of the ‘illimitable plains and also associated with reckless, exploitative, romantic, and violent behavior’, while humanity were rather approaching the ‘spaceman economy’ in which the earth was a ‘single spaceship, without unlimited reservoirs of anything ….”

  342. Dan:

    For those who have not yet seen the 2012 state of the climate report:

    Especially note the discussion about the past 15 years with regards to the effect of the predominance of La Ninas, which serve to temper global average temperatures. Yet the past 10 or so years remain among the warmest recorded despite that tempering affect.

  343. James Cross:


    Pretty fascinating article.

    I see two takeaways from it:

    1- Major climate change can happen regionally even without a huge influence of greenhouse gases. Nothing new there.

    2- Major climate change can disrupt societies and economies. Yes, isn’t that the concern.

  344. patrick:

    @335 Kevin, “The document was leaked over the weekend after it was sent to a large group of people who had signed up to review it. It was first reported on in detail by the Reuters news agency, and The New York Times obtained a copy independently to verify its contents.”

    And Justin Gillis still hasn’t confused anyone yet:


  345. patrick:

    @335 There’s an 18 Aug post at Climate Progress, with this comment from Michael Mann:

    “The report is simply an exclamation mark on what we already knew: Climate change is real and it continues unabated, the primary cause is fossil fuel burning, and if we don’t do something to reduce carbon emissions we can expect far more dangerous and potentially irreversible impacts on us and our environment in the decades to come.”

    Speaking of those who haven’t confused anyone yet.

  346. patrick:

    @335 To be correct: the document, as it stands, in current form, was leaked over the weekend.

  347. Claire:

    Latest issue of EOS from AGU has a “Dissenting View” article, regarding their statement on climate change, from Roger Pielke. It links to this longer statement: http://pielkeclimatesci.files.wordpress.com/2013/08/rpt-851.pdf

    He hems and haws and talks about uncertainty and how we can’t do regional modelling, so climate change isn’t as bad as people think from the global averages. And that we haven’t seen cooling in the past ten years. Standard denialist claims, but I was surprised that AGU even included him on their panel in the first place, that was producing their climate statement. He’s fairly well known for his climate change “skepticism”, after all. Eos is not the place I would have expected to find giving him a platform.

  348. Paul S:

    Sadly, it looks like the SORCE satellite is failing. As far as I can tell from the PMOD page it looks like there is only one other TSI measuring instrument – VIRGO on the SoHO satellite – currently in operation and that’s been up for 18 years already. Are there any solar observation missions planned for the near-future or are we in danger of a data gap here?

  349. Ray Ladbury:

    Paul S.,

    Total Solar Irradiance Sensor is now just about buttoned up and is just waiting for a ride. It could be up there in another year or 2.

  350. Paul S:

    Thanks Ray, though the LASP mission page for TSIS is less optimistic than yourself, reporting launch scheduled for three years time. In any case that means we hopefully won’t get a long data gap, if any.

  351. Hank Roberts:

    A reminder: Where climate happens

  352. Killian:

    A good overview of the methane clathrate/permafrost issue. Point 3, particularly. Point 2 is also worth a look. Both address research I don’t think all of which has been raised on this site, though I could be wrong about that.

    The Guardian: 7 facts re methane time bomb

  353. Susan Anderson:

    Killian @~352. Ahmad’s article is dated August 5, and there has been extensive back and forth about it, including a comment from the author and a number of efforts by Gavin in inline comments (q.v.) and others in other comments in this threat, and stubborn repeats by methane – I hesitate to call them trolls, but it’s a bit like that. Nobody is suggesting methane is a problem, just that this particular item was overhyped and not yet supported by data, while the cost data was definitely poorly supported.

    Nobody is suggesting methane is not a problem, but it appears to me that other forms of methane, such as burnoff, are currently a much bigger problem and the mechanism for methane “burps” is not supported either by science or by paleo history. In any case, CO2 continues to be the important problem.

    Hank@~351: delightful, thanks, will be stealing that.

    This presentation (Saul Griffith, 2008) gave me furiously to think.
    Check out particularly the practical bit near the end about what needs doing. How likely is it that our magic thinking media-obsessed culture will accept this? Only us pointy headed types are paying any attention at all, except to occasionally wail and worry in an unfocused way and go on buying and wasting more and more stuff.

  354. Susan Anderson:

    that was, nobody is suggesting methane is *not* a problem … aargh!

  355. Hank Roberts:

    Killian, the Guardian’s “Point 2″ you link to is “the new empirical evidence on permafrost-associated shallow water methane hydrates on the Arctic shelf.”

    There isn’t a definition of “shallow”

    Look up the sea depth in the area.
    Look up the depth of the material described in the quotes.

    They haven’t found methane hydrates existing above the pressure/stability limits known to science. They have made that assertion.

    They got bubbles.

  356. SecularAnimist:

    I really don’t get the obsession with methane deposits.

    We already know that we need to eliminate all anthropogenic carbon emissions as quickly as possible. We already know how to do that.

    We also already know that we need to draw down the already dangerous anthropogenic excess of atmospheric CO2 and sequester it in soils and biomass. And we already know how to do that.

    We already know that the problem is bad, and that first and foremost we need to STOP MAKING IT WORSE.

    Does whatever is or is not happening with methane deposits change any of that? No.

  357. Killian:

    Hank, new info happens. You assertion that their assertion is just an assertion has been repeatedly asserted. I assert you can stop asserting it and feel just fine when you wake up in the morning.


  358. Kevin McKinney:

    #357–Except that none of it appears to be newer than the last discussion here… Reiterating discussions can be as tedious as reiterating assertions, or so I would assert.

    At the risk of reiterating myself.

  359. patrick:

    Tamsin Edwards: here’s an exemplar of what a climate scientist should be and do to relate to peers and public. I think.

    I call this the mini Keeling Lecture, so to speak:

    If you aren’t there, then fine. Let him speak.

    The issue you have raised is a distraction. If you want to raise a normative issue, start with transparency. It’s a lot more relevant. It’s the best brake on spin. And it’s being eroded.

  360. Hank Roberts:

    > new info happens
    And you’ll tell us about it.
    It’s repeating it before it happens that gets boring.
    Yes, we know. But the science hasn’t printed it yet,
    and won’t until it’s actually happened and they got pictures.

    Right now they got bubbles.

    Reality is plenty scary.
    A reputation for sticking with what’s real
    can be useful.

    Worth a look: http://rabett.blogspot.com/2013/08/getting-knotted-climate-change-and-jet.html

  361. Hank Roberts:

    Killian, you’re trying to make useful points, no fault there. I’m trying to nitpick exaggeration and misuse of terms that confuse people about distinctions that matter.

    This is the distinction that’s lost in all the “methane emergency” reblogging, seems to me (as an amateur trying to get facts here — the real scientists will correct me I trust).

    One liter of methane clathrate solid would therefore contain, on average, 168 liters of methane gas (at STP).

    Methane gas trapped under rock or under layers of permafrost is real, documented, observed, modeled, and often can be tapped for economic use.

    Methane clathrates exist, but are only known within limits — enough pressure and low enough temperature.

    The reblogging confuses this by repeating claims that some unknown, undescribed, clathrate exists in the shallow sediments.

    If that were so, and if the hypothetical warm low-pressure clathrate is about like the known cold high-pressure clathrate, then such a huge volume — 168 liters of methane — could blow out explosively from each liter of that hypothetical clathrate.

    Yes, a huge expanding 168 liter bubble of methane gas, originating from a single liter of such a hypothetical clathrate, would be very scary — if it existed in any volume in those shallow, warming sediments.

    On the other hand, if there isn’t the hypothetical warm shallow clathrate we keep hearing claims about, but nobody has either documented or described as theoretically a possible stable structure — then there’s 1/168th as much methane down there.

    That’s 1/168th of a methane emergency.

    That’s realistic. That amount will, eventually, bubble up.
    But that’s not what the methane emergency stories count on.
    So far, there’s no support for their large claims.

    Reality is plenty scary enough. There are other ways to get an emergency, in fact, we’ve got a planet full of real issues.
    “Contrariwise, if it was so, it might be; and if it were so, it would be; but as it isn’t, it ain’t. That’s logic.” — Lewis Carroll

  362. Hank Roberts:

    P.S. — if there -is- a clathrate structure stable at relatively warm temperatures and shallow-water pressure out there someone will find it.

    If such a thing is not found in nature (or not in any significant amount) but could exist, someone will figure out how to make it.

    That could be very good news. People are trying to do that sort of thing.
    A few minutes’ poking around turns up, e.g.:

    J. Chem. Phys. 136, 224508 (2012);
    http://dx.doi.org/10.1063/1.4728157 (10 pages)
    Nonstandard cages in the formation process of methane clathrate: Stability, structure, and spectroscopic implications from first-principles


    Large-scale screening of hypothetical metal–organic frameworks
    Nature Chemistry 4, 83–89 (2012)

  363. Ray Ladbury:

    S.A., I think the fascination with polar methane and the clathrate gun hypothesis in particular is because it constitutes a reasonable example of a tipping point. If true, it puts paid to the lukewarmer’s Pollyannaism. If true, we must act now. The thing is that the lukewarmers are simply flat wrong, and demonstrably so. The unfortunate thing is that it is their grandchildren who will feel the pain. That is why I am glad that nothing ever dies on the Intertubes. Our enterprising progeny will be able to do research and find out whose graves to piss on.

  364. prokaryotes:

    Hank Roberts:

    if the hypothetical warm low-pressure clathrate”

    It’s not that simple. Here this quote from the paper i linked on the last page already.

    Formation of the open taliks is also dependent on seismic events; that is why numbers of open taliks are formed along the active fault zones. We can therefore expect open taliks to exist anywhere within the 90 m isobath, correlated with area seismic activity. Taking this fact into account, we can better understand the sharpness of spatial gradients in dissolved methane distribution obtained during our study. Thus, we can assume the origin of bottom plumes measured in 2004 within Dmitry Laptev Strait to be a sub-sea bottom talik which might have been penetrated due to the simultaneous influence of Lena River heat efflux, the upward geothermal flux typical of active fault zones, and seismic activity within these zones. The near-shore system of the ESAS widely consists of ICs, which are ice-rich syncryogenic deposits with massive ice wedges. This system has been strongly affected by global warming and exhibits the highest range of coastal erosion in the world, compared to other near-shore systems (Stein and Macdonald, 2003).


    According to our data; one of the bottom plumes (spot 1, 3, Fig. 5) is correlated with the location of a geological fault zone called the “Bel’kovsko–Svyatonosskiy Rift” (Imaev et al., 2000). According to the results of direct measurements of geothermal heat within main normal faults of the ESS, the value of the heat flux ranged from 64 mW m2 to 124 mW m2 (Soloviev et al., 1987). The magnitude of the geothermal heat flux is a crucial component of the LS geological model, which predicts the existence of open taliks under fault zones with high geothermal heat flux values (100 mW/m2 and more) (Romanovskii and Hubberten, 2001). Together with surface sea floor heat flux this energy input would trigger disturbance of gas hydrates deposits.

    The increase of river discharge, the exceptional erosion rate, the increase of warmer waters through albedo lose, increase of wave action… all these interactions cause strains and to some degree impacts for the active faults seismic. Thus, as has been years ago reported – plumes are associated with these faults and with open taliks (or maybe even with pingos), this could mean that deeper methane sources find a pathway through ocean fault surface talik formation.

    The physical process:

    Calculations show that climate warming would induce supra-permafrost taliks in intermediately cold regions (in very cold regions, warming simply induces a deeper summer thaw without forming the talik layer; while in warm, shallow permafrost regions, permafrost quickly disappears). This type of taliks has recently been observed in Russia. With time and continued increase in air temperature or snow depth, this talik layer will become thicker and thicker and the deep permafrost layer would eventually disappear.


    This is an evolving theory with observational evidence, to hint at just pressure and temperature and hydrates is not enough to debunk potential destabilization of “Methane content” deposits, in these particular region (ESAS). It would help in this debate to better quantify the potential here (permafrost, ocean methane, greenhouse gases through respiration, thermokarst formation and aerobic processes etc etc) and possible resulting overall excursion magnitude.

    But relatively recently it was shown that long-term impact of moderately subzero temperatures should be regarded, not as the extreme and limiting, but rather as a stabilizing factor supporting the viability of microorganisms. Arctic organisms are welladapted to the extreme temperature conditions within permafrost, which is one of the most stable and balancedof the natural environments called the cryobiosphere(Gilichinsky, 2004). Thus the ESAS, underlain by relict permafrost, is an extraordinary area which provides the right environment for in-situ methane production, accepts riverine export of methane, and has some additional sources of methane arising from the unique combination of geological,climatic and hydrological features which characterize this region: methane release from retreating coastal ice complexes, submerged submarine taliks, sub-bottom permafrost itself and decaying gas hydrates


    And again, this has nothing to do with an lingering methane emergency, re the recent nature study – some here at least confused the basic discussion earlier with methane science in general.

  365. Hank Roberts:

    > pressure and temperature and hydrates is not enough to debunk
    > potential destabilization of “Methane content” deposits

    You’ve understood the argument, finally. Nobody’s said there’s no problem.
    The methane emergency people hypothesized some unknown hydrate and built a big scary story on that super-dense storage suddenly expanding into gas form.

    That’s why scientists push for evidence.

    Reality is _plenty_ scary enough. We know what we know is there — undersea sediment that was coastal shallow water or above sea level at the peak of the ice age, and became permafrost then. Since the peak ice age/lowest ocean level those deposits have been slowly covered as the sea level rose–covered by water and sediment from the rivers. More methane comes up from below from geological sources and gets produced from biological sources.

    That’s all _plenty_ scary.

    But it’s somewhat well mapped, somewhat understood.

    Nobody objects to trying to convince people about what’s known.

    The only problem all along has been the claims that some mysterious stable shallow hydrate existed — which would mean a vastly larger amount of methane condensed in a place it would blow out.

    Got it? Point is — when claims are made, rather than just repeat them, be skeptical about whether there are facts on record, whether the physical chemistry supports the idea such a structure of highly dense warm clathrate could exist, then whether it does exist.


    If what the methane emergency people were promoting there and so many bloggers reblogged without questioning were possible — and can be found or made — it’d be not only a freaking horror, but also good news.

    Super stable extremely energy-dense storage for natural gas at near freezing and near atmospheric pressure.

    Think about it.

    Too bad it doesn’t seem to be real. Nice excursion.

    Back to reality. Which is plenty scary enough.

  366. wili:

    Hi Prok. From your first link:

    “Thus, we can assume the origin of bottom plumes measured in 2004 within Dmitry Laptev Strait to be a sub-sea bottom talik which might have been penetrated due to the simultaneous influence of Lena River heat efflux, the upward geothermal flux typical of active fault zones, and seismic activity within these zones.

    The near-shore system of the ESAS widely consists of ICs, which are ice-rich syncryogenic deposits with massive ice wedges. This system has been strongly affected by global warming and exhibits the highest range of coastal erosion in the world”

    Given the huger rates of erosion, do you think that it is possible that some of the seismic activity in the region is actually part of a response to that shift in land mass?

    Your last link suggests that we are likely to see increases in biological activity as these areas continue to warm up. It seems to me that this represents another potential mechanism for methane release, as creatures start burrowing through the capping subsea permafrost layer. Have you come across any articles that address this possibility specifically?

    Thanks again for all your excellent work and for your great climate science blog.

  367. Susan Anderson:

    Ray Ladbury, you are an optimist. (1) I assume it’s children, not grandchildren, and unless we’re quite old, ourselves who are in line for accelerating cascades of consequences of our neglect and conflict (see, for example, the mideast, where scarce goods and water defy all parties, resulting in distribution of blame to those seen to be in control). (2) You’re assuming all our electronics and infrastructure will still be in place, and there will be transport to those graves.

    Being possessed of a too vivid imagination and a tendency to think of mundane things like toilets and laundry in the most romantic of movies, I wish there were some way to shut off our marketing owners who control the public understanding these days, so we could get practical about what’s real.

    For me, a real upside of the Tamsin Edwards article is seeing the pushback. Seems a fair number of people are getting tired of seeing lies hold the upper hand, and thinking it might be time to say so, rudely and with emphasis if necessary.

  368. SecularAnimist:

    Ray Ladbury wrote: “… polar methane and the clathrate gun hypothesis … If true, we must act now.”

    Well, that’s exactly my point:

    It is already self-evident that we must act now, given the entirely NON-hypothetical, empirically observed, massively destructive, rapidly worsening effects that we are already experiencing from the warming that has already occurred from the GHGs that we have already emitted.

  369. Killian:

    Hank said, Got it? Point is — when claims are made, rather than just repeat them, be skeptical about whether there are facts on record, whether the physical chemistry supports the idea such a structure of highly dense warm clathrate could exist, then whether it does exist.


    You have a bad habit of assuming those who don’t agree with you 100% are not being sceptical. This is a false assertion that causes you to be quite insulting of others.

    Get over it so that conversations here might be more productive. Also, YOUR fallacy in logic is that what we know today is what we will know tomorrow, yet, how many effects of increased GHGs have caught the scientific community off guard over the last 8 years?

    A little more tolerance for those who do not see as you do would go a long way. After all, we’ve been more accurate than you have. You’d think that would mean something with you and others, for example, getting you to be less reticent about possibilities rather than constantly pooping on those that are more open to dire consequences happening rapidly.

    At the end of the day, it really doesn’t matter if the bubbles are coming from biogenic or physical causes, and we should all be acting as allies to FIRST act to mitigate and SECOND act to adapt to what is unavoidable regardless of what we do.

    Anything else deserves a slap upside the head.

    The guys in Hawaii on Dec. 7th, 1941, didn’t spend time deciding if they should act, they acted. The risk assessment globally is the same now: We know the bombs are falling, we see the planes and ships blowing up and the people dying, albeit in relative slow motion, and, most importantly, we know how our own defenses work and how to use them.

    Get off people’s backs for jumping on the .50 calibre and getting some return fire going while you discuss whether the enemy is really shooting at us or not.

    This little PSA goes for everybody. We are way past our due date on cooperating to create a sustainable response to climate changes. Please read the Hirsch Report from 2005. The reason is not to encourage you to believe we can peak in oil production, but to look at what it says about time frames for wholesale societal changes to infrastructure and behavior.

    This report can be considered a blueprint for planning time frames in the US. (And just imagine how much worse it might be for less-wealthy societies… or, actually, much easier – harder they fall and all that…)

    We don’t have time for silly squabbling. CH4 in the Arctic is just the nail in the coffin. Things are already dire without ANY Arctic CH4.

    Got it? Seriously?


  370. Kevin McKinney:

    #363, 368–Seeing as we *are* on the unforced variations thread, how likely is it that the climate debates of today will be accurately remembered in popular culture? Not only do Susan’s questions have some basis, there are sobering examples: Japanese teaching of the history of the Imperial Army in the mid-twentieth century, American/Canadian teaching of the history of the ‘conquest of the Western frontier’ vis a vis the aboriginal populations, teaching of the Holocaust in Iran today, and on and on and on…

    They say that history is written by the winners, but that’s too simple (as at least one of my examples about suggests.) In one sense, the winners are the ones who achieve control of the historical narrative, perhaps.

    “Climategate,” anyone?

    I do believe that ground truth speaks with a loud voice. But it may not always be the *only* loud voice.

  371. Kevin McKinney:

    “We don’t have time for silly squabbling. CH4 in the Arctic is just the nail in the coffin. Things are already dire without ANY Arctic CH4.”

    Er, K, I really think that’s a pretty good paraphrase of what Hank has been saying.

    Well, that and getting hyperbolic doesn’t help achieve mitigation goals any.

  372. Hank Roberts:

    “We don’t have time for silly squabbling. CH4 in the Arctic is just the nail in the coffin. Things are already dire without ANY Arctic CH4.”
    Yep. You got that right.

    Finding out what’s real helps choose mitigation goals.

    A warm-temperature low-pressure clathrate could be shipped in tin cans in ordinary freezers, rather than super-cold high-pressure vessels. It’d be a game-changer. If it exists, or could be created.

    A warm-temperature low-pressure clathrate would be a huge forcing not in the current models. It would change everything. If it exists, now, in large quantities. But we don’t have evidence that it exists, even if theory turns out to suggest a way it could be possible. We don’t even have that.

    Understanding the forcings affecting climate change tells us what we can and can’t hope to do.

    That’s what the science is for. Understanding what’s real.
    We have to do the arithmetic, not tell big scary stories, to make plans.

  373. Killian:

    Well, that and getting hyperbolic doesn’t help achieve mitigation goals any.

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 25 Aug 2013 @ 8:34 PM

    So long as you think fair risk assessment is hyperbolic, and dismiss others’ points of view that way, you’ve got a serious problem. That is exactly the bias I am addressing.

    Nothing I said is hyperbolic. I said in 2007 we’d see 1 – 3 ft. rise in SLR by 2100. Hyperbolic? I said in 2007-2008 we’d see increasing Arctic CH4 emissions at the high end of estimates and beyond. We are. Ecosystems are shifting faster than expected. Ditto.

    So, yeah, gosh, hyperbole.

    Consider that as a systems-oriented thinker/designer I (and others) might be applying knowledge and logic you don’t.

    And do notice I don’t say you or Hank or anyone is sub-hyperbolic, do I? Why should I insult your stance? What does that accomplish? By the same token, the speak softly crowd have held sway for decades and where are we? Does that not indicate a change in approach is at least worthy of discussion?

    Hyperbolic? Not even a little. Hope you figure that out. Sooner than later.

  374. prokaryotes:


    Your last link suggests that we are likely to see increases in biological activity as these areas continue to warm up. It seems to me that this represents another potential mechanism for methane release, as creatures start burrowing through the capping subsea permafrost layer. Have you come across any articles that address this possibility specifically?

    Great you asked, i just published a follow up paper “Methane release from the East Siberian Arctic Shelf and the Potential for Abrupt Climate Change” from Shakhova and Semiletov which helps to better understand some of the interactions (2010).

    Among these are:

    Most of the ESAS area is affected by tectonic and seismic activities, Formation of gas migration pathways within fault zones, Over pressured gas fronts serve as a powerful geological force to build up migration pathways, Pingo-like features as a gas migration pathway


    Given the huger rates of erosion, do you think that it is possible that some of the seismic activity in the region is actually part of a response to that shift in land mass?

    I link to a 2012 paper which addresses:
    On carbon transport and fate in the East Siberian Arctic land–shelf–atmosphere system


  375. MalcolmT:

    Hank @322 Thanks for the link – fascinating story – but it’s okay, we have plenty more deserts to flood. I actually like the idea of filling Lake Eyre via a pipeline from the South Aust coast to give us the “inland sea” that the early explorers went nuts looking for…

  376. prokaryotes:

    You can read the paper On carbon transport and fate in the East Siberian Arctic land–shelf–atmosphere system online, excerpt:

    Besides mobilization of old OC stored in sub-sea permafrost, there are terrestrial sources of OC delivered to the ESAS. It is highly likely that the Great Siberian Arctic Rivers (GSARs; Ob, Yenisey, Lena, Kolyma and Indigirka rivers) carry and bring to the shelf an integrated signal of terrestrial organic material (OM) released from the soil and the degrading terrestrial permafrost within their vast watersheds (Guo et al 2004, Dudarev et al 2006a, Alling et al 2010, Sánchez-García et al 2011). The ESAS acts as a Lena, Kolyma and Indigirka estuary; thus, it accepts the integrated signal and transfers it further via the signal carrier, which is shelf water, to the Arctic Ocean (Semiletov et al 2000, 2007, 2011, van Dongen et al 2008, Pipko et al 2010, 2011, Vonk et al 2010, Charkin et al 2011, Gustafsson et al 2011, Karlsson et al 2011). Another significant source of terrestrial carbon delivered to the ESAS is coastal erosion; on the shores of the ESAS the rates of erosion are the greatest on the globe and can reach up to 80 m yr−1 (figure 2; Grigoriev 1993, Are 1999, Rachold et al 2000). The latest estimate produced a value of 4 Tg C-OC released from the coastal ice complex into the ocean annually (Grigoriev et al 2006).

    Results of initial offshore studies, performed in the 1990s, demonstrated that the biogeochemical consequences of terrestrial OM transformations within the ESAS could play a significant role in the Arctic marine carbon cycle (Semiletov et al 1994, 1996a, 1996b, Semiletov 1999a, 1999b). Further studies revealed that the eroded terrestrial OM is available for microbial oxidation; this oxidation is followed by a significant carbon dioxide (CO2) buildup in the water column, and consequent CO2 release into the atmosphere (Pipko et al 2005, 2008, 2011, Repina et al 2007, Semiletov and Pipko 2007, Semiletov et al 2007, Anderson et al 2009, 2011). Partitioning between the riverine and eroded terrestrial OM exported onto the shelf is still under discussion (Rachold et al 2000, Dudarev et al 2003, 2006b, Vetrov and Romankevich 2004, Semiletov et al 2005, 2011, Macdonald et al 2008, Vetrov et al 2008, Vonk et al 2010, Charkin et al 2011, Gustafsson et al 2011). Results presented in the current letter serve to contribute to this discussion.

    Numerous important and newly emerging problems with potential influence on climate change arise from land–shelf interaction in the ESAS. Addressing these problems requires long-term international cooperation between Russia, to whom the ESAS belongs, and other countries. This brief overview describes the state of progress in establishing such cooperation by reporting results of field research accomplished during 1999–2011 in the ESAS. The objectives of this study were pursued in order to identify and quantify the main processes responsible for carbon cycling in the ESAS land–shelf–atmosphere system and factors altering them. These objectives included the following.

    To investigate how redistribution of old carbon from degrading terrestrial and sub-sea permafrost and from coastal erosion contributes to the carbon pool of the ESAS.

    To study how changes in the hydrological cycle of the surrounding land and alteration of terrestrial carbon cycles contribute to formation and propagation of halocline waters and affect the hydrological and biogeochemical parameters of shelf water masses, and to quantify the area-scaled ESAS contribution of CH4 and CO2 to the atmosphere.

    To define specific factors which control CH4 emission to the ESAS atmosphere in order to develop a conceptual model of CH4 propagation from the seabed to the atmosphere, and to assess the strength, type, and dynamics of the source.

  377. Kevin McKinney:

    #373–Killian, I didn’t say your points were hyperbole; that’s your (incorrect) assumption.

    To clarify, I think the ‘methane bomb’ argumentation most likely *is* hyperbole–and specifically the ‘shallow clathrates’ idea. Which is not to say that the methane doesn’t bear watching, or is not cause for concern.

    But, as we all seem to agree, the bottom line is:

    Find Implement ways to reduce GHG emissions, ASAP!

  378. Kevin McKinney:

    Anent my last, the next concrete step on my ‘to do’ list is a face-to-face Friday with our local congresscritter. A Tea Party type, likely not so amenable to reason on this topic, but chipping away, chipping away…

  379. MA Rodger:

    Kevin McKinney @370.
    I thought everybody knew. History is written by Walt Disney. Consider Scottish history, for instance. You’ll even get the BBC saying it is Hollywood films that provide the history of Scottish hero William Wallace for the great unwashed. Even in Scotland, the BBC will introduce Wallace in news items “as featured in the film Braveheart.” Of course, the film is not historically correct but does that stop it being accepted as history. Historically, the real battle-winning hero of yester-year was actually the not-so-famous Andy Murray whose equally not-so-famous son (another battle-winning Andy Murray) was victorious at the obscure Battle of Culblean and probably as significant at bringing the Scots victory in the Second War of Independence as was Bruce at Bannockburn in the First War of Independence. Yet I doubt many Scots have even heard of these Andy Murrays (although they will all be well aware that it was Andy Murray’s mum who invented the Scottish game of tennis that is now enjoyed world-wide).
    If climatology has problems convincing the great unwashed of AGW, expect no help from historians – they have a far more difficult job of their own.

  380. Hank Roberts:

    Killian, Procyotes — if the claimed form exists — a shallow-water, low-pressure, high-temperature clathrate — that would store something like 160x as much methane than we believe can possibly exist there.

    This isn’t a trivial difference.

    It’s good-news-bad-news — if such a structure can exist, and does. That means far more methane than anyone has evidence for, in highly dense form, in shallow warm locations. Huge, huge difference from what we know about.

    It’s not news if such a structure doesn’t exist
    If nobody can create it, that’s too bad, as it’d be very, very useful.

    The difference between 160x and 1x is rather large in forcing terms.

    Get that one simple point — that Gavin and others have tried to make since day one of the “methane ‘emergency’” — won’t you? That’s the only thing you’re saying over and over that’s wrong.

    I do notice you’ve both stopped using the term “hydrates” talking about those shallow warm locations, in the last few days.

    That’s real progress. The other possibilities mentioned are all well known.
    Yes, it’s a terrible problem. It’s just not 160x the problem already known.

  381. Hank Roberts:

    Hard numbers:

    “This is the worst 14-year drought period in the last hundred years,” ….
    …. less water has been flowing from the watershed into the upper Colorado River and into Lake Powell. Flows in July were just 13% of normal ….

  382. Hank Roberts:

    U.S., Japan Successfully Test Methane Hydrate Technologies
    03 May 2012
    “The proof-of-concept test ran February 15 to April 10. The team injected a mixture of carbon dioxide and nitrogen into the formation, and demonstrated that this mixture could promote the production of natural gas. Scientists are analyzing the data to determine if the technique can also be used to store carbon dioxide in the ice.

    “… Building upon this small-scale test, the department said it is launching a new research effort to conduct a long-term production test in the Arctic as well as research to test additional technologies that could be used to locate and safely extract methane hydrates ….

    “… technologies to locate and safely extract natural gas from methane hydrate formations like those in the Arctic and along the U.S. Gulf Coast. Projects will address direct sampling or remote sensing of deepwater gas hydrates; new tools and methods for monitoring, collecting and analyzing data to determine the reservoir response and the environmental impacts related to methane hydrate production; and clarifying the role in the environment of methane hydrates, including their response to warming climates….”

  383. Meow:

    There appears to be a positive feedback between ocean acidification and global temperature via reduced marine emissions of dimethylsulfide. http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/08/130826095846.htm . The paper is paywalled, but it appears from the ScienceDaily summary that the effect increases climate sensitivity by a few tenths of a degree C. That would be a big deal. Also, warming independently appears to reduce DMS emissions.

  384. Hank Roberts:

    And to get methane out, pump CO2 in.


    Chemical Engineering Journal
    Volume 225, 1 June 2013, Pages 636–640

    Short communication
    Thermodynamic and 13C NMR spectroscopic verification of methane–carbon dioxide replacement in natural gas hydrates

    “The conversion of CH4 hydrate to CO2 hydrate with net recovery of CH4 is regarded as an attractive method of both CO2 sequestration and CH4 production. In this study, the CH4–CO2 swapping phenomenon occurring in gas hydrates and its potential application to CO2 sequestration was examined through thermodynamic equilibrium studies and a 13C NMR spectroscopic analysis. It was found that the CO2 composition in the hydrate phase and the expected recovery level for CH4 after swapping can be easily estimated from thermodynamic equilibrium studies linked to 13C NMR spectroscopic results. The experimental results showed that approximately 67% of CH4 is recoverable after replacement by CO2, which was also confirmed by direct dissociation. The corresponding chemical formula for the mixed gas hydrate after CO2 replacement is 5.03CO2·2.51CH4·46H2O. The results presented in this study further build the thermodynamic and physicochemical background required for understanding the simultaneously occurring dual mechanism of CO2 sequestration and CH4 recovery.”

    Where oh where do we get clean CO2 to pump down in, at what cost?
    Any profit left over, if it’s done that way?

  385. Dave Peters:

    Poking around to attempt an assessment of the threat to Giant Sequoia groves @ the Rim Fire near Hetch Hetchy this am, I happened upon the following:


    I first was awed by the grove at Calaveras a half century ago. If you can enter one of these and remain unmoved–you qualify for a stone soul award. Though it has been 28 years since I tried my first N-plant salvation job, I was utterly unaware of the extraordinarily tight connection between Earthly climate and these supremely special living beings until this very morning.

    Speaking of souls, I know not how it affects you all, to watch with nose pressed against some parlor window, in all but complete helplessness, as such large alterations in the status quo are wrought, but I find some relief in this new found awareness–as the mere hand full of lingering groves have “made it to the Anthrocene.” As example of one human spirit standing against a tide, check out the accompanying “statement of Joe.” This to is worth a smile.


  386. Killian:

    Physicists find electrical networks more susceptible to cascading failure than thought.

    Ain’t complexity grand? Snarkiness aside, the assumption should be, with any and all systems, that they are more sensitive than we think because we quite simply do not understand all the feedbacks in far too much of the world around us, both the Natural and the built.

    When thinking of building out massive new grids…

    Massively distributed is the way to go.

  387. Hank Roberts:

    so – someone in the industry must be working on ways to dope water and methane with materials that enhance the stability of clathrates — because they’ve long been working on figuring out what does make clathrates more likely and more stable in order to _avoid_ their forming.

    From 1992: “… thermodynamic experiments were run on sixteen simulated drilling muds and associated test fluids. Results indicated that to a first approximation the salt and glycerol content of water in mud dominated hydrate formation. To a lesser degree other mud additives such as bentonite, barite, polymers, etc. collectively promoted hydrate formation slightly….”

    So has anyone done the numbers? What’s the economic case now for extracting methane — just pipe it long distances to burn elsewhere?

    How about for setting up and running equipment at or near sources, to produce liquefied natural gas and transport that by, oh, something like

    – tapping hydrate structures
    – running refrigeration by burning some methane on site
    – extracting oxygen from air by cooling, nitrogen as liquid
    – burning methane in oxygen to produce CO2 and H2O
    – cooling the hot CO2 to remove the water
    – running pumps to transfer CO2 back down into the hydrate structure to displace methane, because at a given temperature and pressure the CO2 hydrates are a bit MORE stable than the methane hydrates, I think
    – shipping liquefied natural gas (use the liquid nitrogen for cooling?)

    How would the economics change assuming a spherical cow, I mean, assuming a lower-pressure, higher-temperature stable hydrate (say one’s found in even trace amounts in the organic material in sediments, fortuitously, because some combination of trace materials turns out to promote such a super-stable clathrate cage)?

    That hypothetical stable form could be packaged for transport with less energy cost — warmer, lower pressure. Put it in pop-top tins for storage.


    End result — sustainable natural gas infrastructure, as methane being formed from organic material reaching the deep seabed is continuously being converted to clathrates? Possibly directly to clathrate form by microbial action?

    Are the microbes smart enough to be doing this already, for us, if we paid attention?


  388. patrick:

    @381 Lake Mead has iconic status. It can’t be denied. Big change in the icon’s message, isn’t it?

    “…The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation announced today it will reduce the flow out of Glen Canyon Dam by 9% starting in October. …

    “And with a smaller river flowing downstream, levels in Lake Mead will drop by an additional 2.4 meters. The reservoir will nevertheless remain high enough for the same amount of water to be released from Hoover Dam as this year. Looking ahead to 2015, however, there is a 2% chance that Hoover dam will have to cut back, according to the Bureau’s 2-year forecast of river conditions and dam operations. Those odds go up to 50% in 2016. If Hoover Dam tightens the tap, some users of the Colorado River would get less water than before, as specified in the 2007 agreement.”

  389. Hank Roberts:


  390. Prokaryotes:

    Clathrate formation is really just a question of temperature and pressure. Methanogenesis on the other hand can happen literally everywhere, as our observation shows.

    The only meaningful action here is to help sustain existing ecosystems and to improve them when possible. And then we can hope for a gradual trend of rising methane emissions, currently at 1870ppb global mean.

  391. Killian:

    re: 387

    Rather than playing with fire, how about we just cool the planet a bit?

  392. Chuck Hughes:

    I have a question here… I’ve had several people tell me that the climate hasn’t warmed since 1998. I understand that the warming is probably going into the deep ocean and that the pause is probably temporary. My question is, what’s going to happen to all that heat that has been stored in the deep ocean? Will it come back out in the form of a strong El Nino event or will the heat dissipate or disappear?

    Also, do scientists expect the warming trend prior to 1998 continue in the near future? The only thing I was able to find were some open ended answers and a few maybe’s. The answers may be in the latest IPCC report but I haven’t found it. I also listened to Kevin Trenberth’s (sp?) assessment but even he didn’t sound too sure about what would happen. Thanks


  393. wili:

    to prok at #374, thanks.
    to killian at #373: Well put.

    Between possible biological action, collapse along slopes, pingos, seismic faults and activity…many mechanisms have been proposed that may (and may have) allowed clathrates and pressurized pools of free methane to be released suddenly to the ocean and hence to the surface. Further, we have actual measured data of methane leaking from the ocean floor, and eye witnesses of explosive emissions entering the atmosphere from the ocean.

    Summary dismissals of such overwhelming evidence does not smack of impartial weighing of the evidence.

    Please note that I am no fan of AMEG in general (and especially not of geo-engineering in particular). Just want to come to one place, at least, where the full range of data, observation, analysis, and reasonable possibilites can be soberly assessed.

    (I must say that the idea of trying to mine these things sounds once again like whacking at enormous hornets nests–it’ll work fine…till it doesn’t.)

  394. Hank Roberts:


  395. prokaryotes:

    Chuck Hughes

    I’ve had several people tell me that the climate hasn’t warmed since 1998. [..] Will it come back out in the form of a strong El Nino event

    1998 was so exceptional, because it was a El Nino year, and since then there were warmer years (2005 & 2010).

    Meehl (2013) is an update to their previous work, and the authors show that accelerated warming decades are associated with the positive phase of the IPO. This is a result of a weaker wind-driven ocean circulation, when a large decrease in heat transported to the deep ocean allows the surface ocean to warm quickly, and this in turn raises global surface temperatures.

    The Interdecadal Pacific Oscillation (Power [1999]) is an index for the mean state of the north and south Pacific Oceans. During the positive phase, El Niño is the dominant global weather pattern, and during the negative phase, La Niña is dominant. During the late 1990′s the positive IPO phase weakened considerably and has been in the negative phase since the year 2000. In other words, La Niña been the dominant pattern of late. It is therefore not surprising that global surface temperatures during the 2000′s have warmed less than previous decades (1977-2000) – when the IPO was in a positive (El Niño-dominant) state.

    This can be better understood by considering the effects of the El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) on the vertical distribution of heat in the surface layers of the ocean. During El Niño heat builds up in the surface layers where it is able to interact with the atmosphere, and therefore raises global surfaces temperatures. During La Niña much more heat is transported to deeper ocean layers and, with the surface layers cooler-than-normal, global surface temperatures are cooler-than-average.


  396. Bojan Dolinar:

    #392, Gaving already did an article that partly addresses the questions you brought up:

  397. Hank Roberts:



    the analysis by Whiteman et al., Vast costs of Arctic change, Nature, 499, 401-3 (25th July 2013)… full response to the Comment … is accessible at: http://equianos.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/Response-to-Whiteman_et-al-Comment.pdf

  398. Kevin McKinney:

    Chuck, the ‘climate hasn’t warmed since 1998′ thing is still a cherry-pick, content of the the linked article notwithstanding. That’s easily demonstrated by the fact that there’s been ‘considerable warming’ since 2000. (The scare quotes are there because this is all basically playing spin games.) Illustration:


    Nobody has a crystal ball. But we do know what the biggest forcing over time is, and that it seems nearly certain to keep increasing over the medium term, so I think confidence remains high that yes, the ‘pause’ will prove temporary.

  399. Kevin McKinney:

    The good news: China’s energy mix will be increasingly dominated by renewables, as established (and increasing) efforts to clean up air pollution and carbon emissions start to ‘turn the Titanic.’

    The bad news: emissions aren’t expected to peak until 2027.


    ‘Good news’ takeaway: there’s considerable scope for policy to improve this outcome.

    ‘Bad news’ takeaway: the UNFCCC process still shows few signs of strong functionality, and remains the ‘only game in town.’

  400. Hank Roberts:

    Here’s some gritty details (read all the way down in the comments where the electrical engineer explains the confusion) about some of the issues and approaches to connecting solar photovoltaic -with- battery storage to the local grid. Three different meters, if you’re in Washington State; refusal to connect in So. California. Approaches vary. Issues — are complicated.

  401. SecularAnimist:

    Hank Roberts wrote: “Issues — are complicated.”

    Actually, the “issues” are not really complicated at all.

    What that article makes quite clear is that there is really only ONE “issue” — namely, that the plummeting cost and accelerating consumer adoption of end-user on-site photovoltaics with storage threatens the profits of the big grid-power generators whose business model consists of “broadcasting” electricity to dumb consumers who have nowhere else to get it.

    Which is exactly why utilities like Southern California Edison are doing everything they think they can get away with to discourage and prevent people from generating and storing their own electricity.

    Ultimately it’s an exercise in futility for SCE.

    I remember when AT&T had a monopoly on the phone system, and it was illegal to connect any device to your phone line except an official AT&T phone that you rented from AT&T. And when you wanted to use a “computer” you would go to your dumb terminal and dial up a mainframe and pay for CPU cycles.

    That’s the sort of business model that SCE wants to preserve.

  402. Hank Roberts:

    Wili, you’ve misread the questions.
    There’s no “Summary dismissals of such overwhelming evidence”
    Claims of hydrates in shallow water lack evidence so far.

    All the other methane stuff is somewhat known and somewhat expected already.

    Take what we expect from what’s known about hydrates.
    Figure 160x that strong an effect if shallow warm hydrates exist.

    If they exist, it’s a big story. Someone would have to find some.

    All the other foofaraw about methane is about ordinary known methane, in gas form, in solution in water, and in deep cold hydrates — nobody doubts those.

    The 160x is the sticking point.
    If those are possible at low pressure in warm sediments, that is a BIG deal.

    Big deal bad: Big scary for climate.

    Big deal good: Profitable product to pack and ship, denser and warmer and safer and cheaper than shipping compressed liquefied gas.

    Big deal — if it does exist, or if it can be made.

    There’s no evidence nature’s made those.
    There’s no theoretical chemical structure that people have figured out how to make, either.


    The other methane issues are known physics.
    Nobody denies them; to some degree, varying degrees, they are possible.

    Some have happened, some not; and yes, surprises happen.

    But — this one thing, the 160x larger claim, overturning known physics — needs evidence.

    So far they got bubbles.
    We know about bubbles. Bubbles don’t prove low pressure warm clathrates.

    The 160x larger forcing from the -claimed- stuff — needs evidence it’s even possible, let alone that it actually exists. No evidence for it.

    Just that one claim needs support before repeating it as if it were fact.

  403. patrick:

    PNAS 16 July “Tapping unsustainable groundwater stores for agricultural production in the High Plains Aquifer of Kansas, projections to 2110.”


    “The High Plains Aquifer supplies 30% of the nation’s irrigated groundwater, and the Kansas portion supports the congressional district with the highest market value for agriculture in the nation. We project groundwater declines to assess when the study area might run out of water, and comprehensively forecast the impacts of reduced pumping on corn and cattle production. So far, 30% of the groundwater has been pumped and another 39% will be depleted over the next 50 y given existing trends. Recharge supplies 15% of current pumping and would take an average of 500–1,300 y to completely refill a depleted aquifer. …Scenarios evaluate incremental reductions of current pumping by 20–80%, the latter rate approaching natural recharge.”


    “People have to get used to these long time scales.” –Richard Somerville

  404. Killian:

    Hank, it is not not getting what Gavin is saying, it is you treating a possibility as non-existent that is the problem. To the extent you and Gavin do accept that possibility of shallower clathrates than are currently considered possible, you treat it as trivial. The difference between non-existent and trivial in this context is itself non-existent.

    You are the problem, not us.

    Additionally, the problem is not just that there may be shallow clathrates, but that emissions pathways, thus pathways for collapse, are more problematic than we believed a few years ago.

    You are also dismissive of the risk in this regard.

    Yet, changes in atmospheric CH4 in the Arctic continue to be high.

    We are talking about collapse, even extinction here. There is no room for a blase attitude, imo. We do not know where the tipping points are, and that alone invalidates a sanguine approach to risk.

  405. Chuck Hughes:

    I think I know what this means as far as temperature trends and I think I understand the difference between CRUTE4 and and the CRUTE3 version but the trend lines are dramatically steeper from 1980 onward. I know this can’t be a good thing but what are the implications if you extrapolate the current trends to the year 2020? I’m trying to formulate some idea of what living conditions might be like at that point?

    It appears to me that there has been no “pause in warming since 1998″ as many in the denier crowd have claimed. I also assume that by 2020 we will be having ice free Arctic Summers. There are a lot of unknowns and as Kevin said, we don’t have a crystal ball but is there any one event that is more likely to happen sooner than all the other potential hazards we’re facing? Hurricane Sandy didn’t seem to change many attitudes and the fires out West are tragic but even extreme flooding events don’t seem to be having much of an impact on the general population other than being headline news on a daily basis. I keep waiting for some sort of public epiphany or revelation to happen but it doesn’t appear to be in the cards.

    Incidentally, I picked the year 2020 because that’s as far as the chart goes. Thanks


  406. Blair Dowden:

    The article “Changes in Ecologically Critical Terrestrial Climate Conditions” in Science (Aug 2, 2013) has already been mentioned here. Figure 3 has a graph showing carbon dioxide levels for the past 20 million years. They give a single reference in the supplemental materials, to D. L. Royer (2006). This graph looks very little like the equivalent in Chapter 6 in the AR4 report, which also includes a reference to Royer, and shows vastly more uncertainty. The graph in the Science paper suggests there is no relationship between carbon dioxide and the climate of last 20 Myr, in contrast to the strong relationship during the ice ages of the past million years. Would anybody knowledgable about this care to comment?

  407. prokaryotes:

    In response to this comment

    Dickens (2011) recently estimated 7×102 to 1.27×104 Gt carbon (Gt C) to be sequestered in marine gas hydrates alone, while Shakhova et al. (2010a) estimate 3.75×102 Gt C in methane hydrates just on the East Siberian Arctic shelf (ESAS).


  408. Hank Roberts:

    Methane under sediment domes — no surprise; it’s possible, and it’s been confirmed by drilling

    methane assumed to be stored in shallow hydrate deposits

    — Shakhova assumes this, it says.
    The structure of a stable low pressure warm clathrate remains to be described.
    Samples of the assumed material remain to be discovered. We await those.

    Such a hydrate would be good news, as it would be easy to make, transport, and store.
    I’m sure investment opportunities will abound.

    It’s real when someone can show it exists.
    Not assume. Show.

    Assumptions aren’t facts. I’m done with ya.
    Carry on.

  409. prokaryotes:

    From 2012, still one of the best reads on the topic Arctic methane outgassing on the E Siberian Shelf


    SkS: In your JGR paper from 2010 you state that methane hydrate in Siberia can occur at depths as shallow as 20 m. Have any such remarkably shallow methane hydrate deposits on the ESAS been directly observed/sampled and if so, how could methane hydrate have formed at such depths?

    NS: Yes, such shallow hydrates were sampled in Siberia. They form as a result of the so-called “self-preservation phenomenon” and they are termed “metastable”. This phenomenon has been intensively studied by Russian geologists starting in the late 1980s. Link

  410. prokaryotes:

    Metastable states of gas hydrates

  411. Killian:

    You posted it before I could, prok.

    Think Hank will basically say she’s a big fibber if she can’t produce pictures of the clathrates right from a camera on a drill head boring into them?


    Guess we’ll have to dig up some Russian research from the last couple decades.

  412. Hank Roberts:

    Hey, guys, be proud of yourselves.
    Hard argument is hard.
    That’s why they call it hard argument.

    Asking for citations is _not_ calling anyone a liar — in a science forum.
    You’re not expected to be believed on faith here. You’re expected to do this kind of hard work to support claims.
    Hard argument should help. I gave you what I found along these same lines back on 12 Aug 2013 at 7:26 PM — that’s how to proceed.

    Opposition is true friendship — in doing science.
    Now — how much is there? Where is it? “metastable hydrate” is a good search term.

    That’s progress.

    Back in 2005, an early RC post on this looked at the result of the Storiegga Slide methane release in the record. Check that out for some numbers.

    You know how to find this stuff.

  413. Killian:

    Hank, you’re a pedant. Given you’re not a scientists, your rigidity is a bit absurd.

    There is knowledge that EVENTUALLY is proven. Your problem is your habit of summarily dismissing what is not already standard science.

    Going after good, useful knowledge with such a fervor and near-ferocity chills science rather than strengthening it. ALL new knowledge starts out as fringe. ALL of it.

    Try to keep this in mind. We have tried to repeatedly get you to deal with this, but you continue to choose to treat those who bring not-yet-scientifically-proven knowledge to this forum like second-class citizens.

    The issue is not asking for citations, the issue is absolutely refusing to consider knowledge with few or limited citations, or even none, yet with real-world proofs of concept.

  414. Kevin McKinney:

    The Shakhova video is rather chilling–no pun intended. Clearly, she and Dr. Semiletov are very concerned by what they are observing.

    Let’s see, though, if I’m getting the story straight: what she seems to be describing are shallow ESAS waters–20 to 50 meters–with deep sediment layers–50 meters or more–which are still largely frozen, but which seem to be decaying (if that is a permissible verb here.)

    The methane under discussion comes from a variety of sources–biogenesis, thermogenesis, etc.–and exists under pressure, but is not fully stable: it’s ‘metastable’, meaning that it’s essentially in the process of decomposition, but that that process is proceeding very slowly due to inhibiting ‘surface effects.’ (This last bit I’m trying to summarize from the link at the bottom of the CP page prokaryotes linked.)


    With warming of the ESAS waters and loss of sea ice cover, the melting of the permafrost sediment layer accelerates. And since there are already vulnerable areas in the sediment–such as the ‘taliks’, the unfrozen pockets–gas escape can or could trigger depressurization, which would then destabilize the metastable hydrates, paradoxically generating gas overpressures which would open up ‘chimneys’ in the sediment, and even generate new ‘gas migration pathways.’

    Further, with increased wind-driven mixing of the shallow surface waters, less oxidation of the methane occurs in the water column, so emissions to the atmosphere increase on that account also.

    How much of this paraphrase/summary is correct? There’s a lot in the video to take in, and help would be appreciated.

  415. James Cross:

    Anyone from RC planning to comment on:

    Recent global-warming hiatus tied to equatorial Pacific surface cooling
    Yu Kosaka & Shang-Ping Xie Nature (2013) doi:10.1038/nature12534

    Sorry if I missed it and you already have.

    There is so much methane talk on this thread I might have missed it.

  416. Ray Ladbury:

    The truth has nothing to fear from criticism. Criticism only makes the truth stronger. One of the most effective criticisms against the climate science community is that of alarmism. There is plenty of justification for raising the alarm even if we restrict ourselves to what we know with certainty.

  417. Susan Anderson:

    I am disgusted by this statement and the cascade of personal attacks and repetition:

    “You are the problem, not us.”

    I suggest people looking for an enemy find somebody who is not working hard to discern the truth, but rather to spread lies, to expend their venom on. Issues include perspective, data, history (paleohistory), and proportion. Circular firing squads and exaggeration help nobody but exploiters, who are delighted to see this infighting.

    Now this was a heroic effort:

    Kevin McKinney says:
    26 Aug 2013 at 9:13 AM

    Anent my last, the next concrete step on my ‘to do’ list is a face-to-face Friday with our local congresscritter. A Tea Party type, likely not so amenable to reason on this topic, but chipping away, chipping away…

    It appears that RealClimate owners, having tried their best to introduce some sense of proportion here, have decided to let a few insistent commenters run and run with this …

    Nobody is suggesting methane is a not a problem, but that CO2 is a bigger one, and even methane includes worse sources to worry about.

    No doubt I too will now be subjected to the animus of people looking for an enemy to shoot at. You should know that this stuff absolutely thrills those busy promoting fake skepticism in the service of doubt and delay.

    (I tried to post something along these lines a couple days ago, but was told the “sock” was not unreachable. Hope this one goes through.)

  418. Killian:

    416 and 417: You can pretend Hank isn’t pedantic, patronizing and dismissive, but it’s not accurate. One tires of being treated with disrespect. We need people working together, and those that offer pretense at problem-solving, but take every opportunity to beat others down are fooling only some of us.

    Change “The truth has nothing to fear from criticism. Criticism only makes the truth stronger” to “The truth has nothing to fear from critique. Critique only makes the truth stronger” and I’ll agree with you. At least among supposed allies. Your statement holds true among enemies.

    I’d like for Hank, and others, to try treating the rest with respect, particularly regarding real-world evidence not yet fully accepted as absolute fact. You know, like massive amounts of CH4 from mixed sources in the Arctic water and air columns…. which we’ve seen for years… Just sayin’.

    Simply put, Hank is rude, I’m sick and tired of it, and you cannot get to sustainability by tearing down your allies at every opportunity. He needs to be called on it, and now has been, unequivocally. But the important aspect here is that perhaps those with a similar perspective to Hank will be a bit more open-minded.

    While Hank wants to treat every conversation as if it were about only fully completed science with no policy implications, life just doesn’t work that way. Very little in science is ever really completely finished, right? And when you are having to make policy decisions with science that is most definitely in process to avoid global catastrophe, constantly slamming people for providing evidence that is not yet proof is a pointless and self-defeating behavior. If anything, we need to look at and try to fund ANY evidence showing a negative feedback to continuing warming.

    Let’s see less of this dismissive behavior.

  419. prokaryotes:

    …the “sock” was not unreachable. Hope this one goes through.

    Yes “open socket error” is a server problem i encountered too.

    If somebody want to help improve information on wikipedia i just reworked a lot at this page. Still could need a lot of improvements.

  420. SecularAnimist:

    Killian, with all due respect, I don’t find Hank Roberts to be either “pedantic” or “rude”.

    In the matter of methane deposits, I simply see Hank as consistently urging that assertions be supported with facts, and reminding us all that we should not assert as facts or as certainties things that are, at present, merely speculative.

    On the other hand, I have found you to be consistently belligerent, belittling, arrogant, condescending, dismissive and denigrating towards many other commenters here, some of whom have repeatedly demonstrated that they are more knowledgeable than you are about the subjects on which you frequently opine.

    Moreover, your comments display a pattern of distorting and cherry-picking the comments of others, typically with the effect of exaggerating or inventing a point of disagreement, which then becomes the basis for argumentative behavior on your part, such as I described in the previous paragraph.

    In short you seem to be focused on (1) picking fights and (2) repeatedly demonstrating to yourself that you are superior to everyone else here.

    Which is pretty much the textbook definition of a troll.

  421. SecularAnimist:

    Killian wrote: “Hank wants to treat every conversation as if it were about only fully completed science with no policy implications”

    That’s a gross mischaracterization of Hank’s comments, on the methane issue and in general.

    And it’s a perfect example of “distorting and cherry-picking the comments of others, typically with the effect of exaggerating or inventing a point of disagreement” as I wrote in my previous comment.

  422. Susan Anderson:

    as predicted (we are all in this together, and there is a “real” enemy). I saw the Shakhova video a few months ago and agree she looked worried, or perhaps having to concentrate speaking in a foreign language. Time will tell, and there’s plenty to do meanwhile. I like Hank and learn a lot from him.

    Changing subject, imho this is worth a look (Bakken flaring):


    (once again, socket trouble … maybe now I’m not watching tennis, silly me!)

  423. Dan:

    re:415 and the Pacific cooling.
    Despite the tempering of global average temperatures in the past 15 years from the predominance of La Ninas, recent years have all still been among the warmest recorded as warming continues. Per the World Meteorological Organization, 30 years is the standard period for climate trends (today’s average high and low temperatures where you are are always based on the 30-year averages) and not 15 due to short-term natural influences (natural influences such as volcanoes, etc.). In addition there is the cherry-picking of 1998 as the start of that 15-year trend…the year with an exceptionally strong El Nino that caused global average temperatures to spike. Which was addressed 10 years ago when denialists desperately attempted to manipulate the data trend. And now it is being dug out from the back of the closet again. Those facts have conveniently and inexcusably been lost in the shuffle. Not just by denialists but by the media reporting the story.

  424. prokaryotes:

    Re 1998 El Nino

    The 1997/1998 monster El Nino happened at a time when the wind-driven ocean circulation was spinning up – having spun down to a low point at around 1993. This spin up – a strengthening of the transport of warm surface water out of the tropics, and enhanced downward (Ekman) pumping in the subtropical ocean gyres – may have prevented the El Nino from being even more severe.


  425. Susan Anderson:

    Returning to the subject of advocacy and accuracy and truth, I think it might be worthwhile to note that the idea that if scientists are perfect and truthful and never step outside their bounds the doubt and denial industry will shut down or somehow be unable to continue has been proven wrong over and over. Rather, the truth needs to be pursued because it is not only moral but more interesting.

    (huh: ayacan sockets)

  426. Chuck Hughes:

    Isn’t Hank Roberts essentially saying the same things about Methane Hydrates that Gavin Schmidt already said on Twitter? Of course I’m no scientist and maybe I misinterpreted something Gavin had said about methane but I was thinking Gavin had already made the assertion that there wasn’t enough evidence to support some sort of sudden release of Methane Hydrates. Maybe Gavin could shed some light on this issue once more and clear things up for the rest of us. I would even like to see some sort of “official” update from the moderators if they have the time, possibly on a separate thread. This topic is getting a lot of attention elsewhere on the internet with plenty of debate from all sides. I think it’s a really good debate and very interesting.

    Honestly, I have no idea other than what people are saying on here and what I’ve read and seen from the “experts”. I find the whole situation worrisome whether a sudden release of methane is possible or not.

    I would imagine there are quite a few “triggers” built into the Climate system that haven’t been anticipated simply because we’ve never lived through such dramatic changes since humans have inhabited the planet so I’m not ruling anything out. I am interested in the future of humanity and any sort of predictions as to how this will play out and how soon. Of all the Climate related web sites I’ve seen, I believe this is the best one and highly credible. Nobody should be taking things personally. We’re all concerned about the future of the planet or we wouldn’t be here having these discussions and heated debate. I thank everyone here for their time and effort. I only wish I had a fraction of the intelligence the rest of you have. Re CAPTCHA is difficult enough.

  427. flxible:

    Have to totally agree with SecularAnimist @ 420 & 421 above, particularly wrt the ‘superiority complex’ – and also point out that this is a climate science blog, not one to discuss or support ‘policy implications’.

  428. Jim Larsen:

    418 Killian said, ” like massive amounts of CH4 from mixed sources in the Arctic water and air columns…. which we’ve seen for years”

    My definition of massive is different than yours. 90% of natural sources are wetlands and termites. Then there’s the human emissions too. Doesn’t leave much room for arctic emissions. Maybe we’ll get massive emissions, but not yet.


  429. Hank Roberts:

    Relax, it’s science.
    People see what they expect to see.
    People find what they expect to find.
    That’s — something we know about.

    That’s why science.

    That’s why citations.
    That’s why reading carefully.
    That’s why hard argument.

    We’re all blinkered.
    And there’s work to do.

    “… Science is so powerful that it drags us kicking and screaming towards the truth despite our best efforts to avoid it. And it does that at least partly fueled by our pettiness and our rivalries. Science is alchemy: it turns shit into gold. Keep that in mind ….”


    The original articles have mentioned these metastable forms.
    Look at the _lifetime_ of that stuff.
    You get bubbles that get further up toward the surface than the gas exchange laws suggest — why? Becaues the little bubbles have made themselves little shells of water ice. They’re metastable. They melt slower.

    You get stuff in the pores in the sediments. Look at the descriptions. Look at how meta-stability is described (in many varying ways).

    I found none that suggest ‘meta-stable’ could last very long (more like minutes, maybe hours — not like decades or centuries or millenia).

    There could be some there as methane and CO2 keep being formed from biological material or rising from deep earth — migrating, freezing out, being pushed by water or gas pressure, changing.

    But — again, no evidence for large amounts.

    The Storiegga slide was quite big. No temperature spike from it in the temperature records. Such could’ve been masked by some volcanic cooling, assuming a big positive and a big negative forcing at the same time ended up cancelling out — people are looking.

    But that’s speculation.

  430. Steve Fish:

    Re- Comment by Killian — 29 Aug 2013 @ 11:27 PM

    I have also had several “open socket error” messages.

    Killian remarks- “There is knowledge that EVENTUALLY is proven.” No! Scientific ideas (e.g. hypotheses) become accepted when supported by enough evidence and when counter evidence has been explained. “Eventually” carries no weight while supporting scientific evidence does, but all science is, to some degree, provisional.

    All new scientific findings are not “fringe” science. This is insulting. Almost all research is based on a large amount of previous knowledge. An idea that has yet to gain a lot of support is not on the fringe, it just has yet to be accepted or rejected.

    Hank has not been “refusing to consider knowledge with few or limited citations,” he is rejecting your uncritical acceptance of this knowledge before there has been time for scientific validation. Your confidence in your unsupported opinions reminds me of a Charles Darwin quote- “Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge.”


  431. Pekka Kostamo:

    There is some confusion about the message to the general public. The climate community is not very consistent.

    “Climate” used to be a very simple and practical matter. It was the statistical description of local weather, over the latest 30 years, for purposes such as which crops could be planted on the farm, how high embankments to build to protect the township and how to dimension the drains. A tenth of a degree was not needed in those applications and the observing stations were constructed accordingly. This was the purpose why i.e. the state climatologists were appointed, and every national weather service in the world still has a climate department.

    Trying to observe and communicate global warming is a different matter.

    For purposes of communicating global warming observations, the “climate of the latest 30 years” forms a set of moving reference levels as it is updated at 10 year intervals. Perhaps not a problem for the professionals, but confusing for random passers-by.

    For effective communication of global warming and other climate changes there is a need for a standard reference level. Be it pre-industrial or some other agreed level, it should be used consistently ja extensively in reports and information releases (and particularly shown on graphs). Maybe also some changes in wording, to separate the two application areas.

    Sorry for the loss of freedom, but effective communication requires a consistent, repeated message. As is amply demonstrated also in the climate “discussion” where the same denialist claims are re-circulated endlessly.

  432. MA Rodger:

    Dan @423.
    Is it just me? I feel like a pacifist who suddenly finds all his fellow pacifists marching in step, saluting each other and painting stationary objects white.
    How can global average temperatures have ‘tempered’ “in the past 15 years” if the rise in those temperatures can be seen to have been accelerating up to 6 years ago. See here (Usually two clicks to ‘download your attachment’.) What are folk on about with this 15 years malarkey? The only explanation I see is that the 15 years refers to a different planet, perhaps Wattsupia.

    James Cross @415.
    The Yu Kosaka & Shang-Ping Xie paper’s abstract is not clear about what they have done and the full paper is paywalled. However from the interweb it can be gleaned that they ran a climate model with historical forcings and got no “hiatus”. They ran it again but with the Eastern tropical Pacific SST held to actual values and got a “hiatus.” And then they ran it a third time but with only natural forcings and some ‘restricting’ the Pacific SSTs.
    Presumably this prompts their conclusion that the “hiatus” is caused by ENSO. I think that is rather wild talk. I also consider the language in the abstract to be as bad as Dan’s above (“the annual-mean global temperature has not risen in the twenty-first century”). In describing their findings (“Our results show that the current hiatus is part of natural climate variability, tied specifically to a La-Niña-like decadal cooling.”) they whet denialist appetites who will be dreaming of some PDO, AMO or IPO cycle which, if it has reduced temperature rise over the last few years can then be argued to have provided a significant natural element to previous warming – that being one step away from calling the whole thing mostly natural.
    Indeed, Judith Curry does just that, cherry-picking a part of the simulation period where the runs with natural forcing only are large (graphs here) and concluding that it shows “the same natural internal variability (primarily PDO) that is responsible for the pause is a major and likely dominant cause (at least at the 50% level) of the warming in the last quarter of the 20th century.” But then such nonsense has become par for the course from JC.

    While on face value the paper shows some interesting results, does it in terms of global temperature rise tell us any more than Foster & Rahmstorf (2011), that the underlying temperature rise remains when ENSO is removed? At least F&R(2011) also considered the sun & volcanoes which, with human pollution, may also feature significantly in our “hiatus”.

    I should also say that I was not impressed by the level of scholarship demonstrated by this paper’s abstract. The abstract cites Foster & Rahmstorf (2011) and Easterling & Wehner (2009) to support its assertion that ’21st century temperatures have not risen’. That is a very bad error as neither paper come close to making such a statement.

  433. James Cross:


    From abstract:

    “Our results show that the current hiatus is part of natural climate variability, tied specifically to a La-Nina-like decadal cooling.”

    However, this would also mean that a significant percentage of late 20th century warming was natural climate variability.

    It seems like the paper suggests a more middle ground on climate sensitivity – that things are not as bad as the late 20th century might suggest or as good as this century suggests.

  434. Susan Anderson:

    Chuck Hughes @~426
    These guys have day jobs. You might go back over the inline responses beginning around 254, and also Gavin’s patient response to yours truly much earlier here:

    Thanks Hank @~429 for the wonderful “kicking and screaming” link. I’d forgotten about that.

    Prokaryotes @~424, thanks for the simple summary on the 1998 El Nino. I love it when somebody makes it easy for me.

  435. James Cross:


    Even what you quote from Judith Curry says 50% natural not 100% as you seem to imply. In another place she says it the global warming signal might vary and be greater during other periods.

    I know some skeptics are making the 100% argument but the overall thrust of the paper is the hiatus is temporary. I don’t see this should make any of the more extreme skeptics happy.

    I don’t see how the analysis about hiatus would make the extreme on the other side happy either.

    It seems like it suggests more the sensitivity which reports say the IPCC is going to come out with or certainly not much more or less.

  436. Radge Havers:

    If the science and its communication has any value, then making some effort to meet policy makers half way in terms of subject matter as well as language is probably a good idea.

    That may mean extending the boundaries of what you now consider to be climate science.

    “The time has come for the climate science community to change its focus. We must now work to develop the tools that humanity needs in order to deal with climate change.”
    Stephen Belcher, Professor of Meteorology and Head of the Met Office Hadley Centre

    How effectively does the climate science community interface with the rest of society?

  437. MA Rodger:

    James Cross @435.
    If you can be sure exactly what Curry meant by the quote I presented @432, then well done. Perhaps you can explain it, although I am not holding my breath – your track record @435 of parsing meaning from the writing of others is not impressive.
    My own take on that Curry quote was to assume the parenthesised comment “(at least at the 50% level)” was saying the natural element is a minimum of half the 1975-2000 warming. And that limiting 50% minimum Curry herself appears to dismiss describing her conclusion from the paper by saying “But no matter what, I am coming up with natural internal variability associated accounting for significantly MORE than half of the observed warming.”). Thus Curry is “calling the whole thing mostly natural” where, as is usual, ‘mostly’ means ‘the majority of’ and does not in any way “seem to imply” 100% as you assert @435.
    In her blog post Curry talks of her hypothetical PDO-powered natural cycle acting on global temperature. To suggest such hypothesising would not make “the more extreme skeptics happy” is odd. For instance, do not the GWPF cite Akasofu and his cycling climate? Does it not allow them to argue that AGW is so weak and climate sensitivity so low that mitigation policies are wrong and not necessary and that adaptation policies will be adequate? Pehaps you do not consider GWPF extreme.

  438. SecularAnimist:

    Killian wrote at #418: “Hank wants to treat every conversation as if it were about only fully completed science with no policy implications”

    flxible wrote at #427: “this is a climate science blog, not one to discuss or support ‘policy implications’ …”

    Actually the moderators have generally accepted discussion of the policy implications of global warming, at least on the Unforced Variations threads, which I think is appropriate.

    In my view the policy implications of what we already know with a high degree of certainty are sufficiently clear and compelling to demand urgent action. We already know what we need to do, we already know how to do it, and we need to get on with it NOW.

    It does not seem to me that insistence on discussing policy implications of things that are entirely speculative is particularly helpful.

  439. Hank Roberts:

    > How effectively does the climate science community
    > interface with the rest of society?

    Climate science is a public health issue.
    You can look at the public health journals for a LOT of discussion of this.

    And, they also look hard at how public health can be tracked, at early warnings and how to notice them, and how to convince the public.

    Think public health on one side trying to educate people, and all the other forces of the economy and politics on the other ranked against that education.

    This one about cardiac care trends is fascinating:


    (especially since we now know small particle air pollution from diesel and tobacco smoke is a major factor — which wasn’t known until recently and which is typical of where industry fights against public health knowledge)

    The Decline and Rise of Coronary Heart Disease: Understanding Public Health Catastrophism. American Journal of Public Health: July 2013, Vol. 103, No. 7, pp. 1207-1218.
    doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2013.301226

  440. Ray Ladbury:

    Radge Havers, I do not think it is quite fair to look at a public that is deaf and claim that it is the climate scientists who are mute or unclear.

    I do not think it is fair to blame the ignorance of the majority of humanity on those who have chosen to seek knowledge.

    Maybe, people need to become science-literate enough to realize which group claiming to represent science are actually taking care to educate them.

  441. Hank Roberts:

    Well, here’s one suggestion of the possibility of a long-lived “metastable hydrate” — a form that would exist under -higher- pressure, and -below- the stability zone, for a long time.


    “Marine occurrences of gas hydrate are normally confined to the top few hundred meters of sediments along deep continental margins. The zone of stability for gas hydrate is limited in depth by increases in temperature below the seafloor. We use thermodynamic calculations to show that gas hydrate can exist in a metastable state below the usual base of the stability zone. We estimate that gas hydrate can be overheated by several degrees and that it may persist in this metastable state in the seafloor for as long as 10[e]6 years. Sudden decomposition of metastable hydrate should produce substantial pore pressure in the sediments, contributing to slope failure in locations where gas hydrate is found. Such a mechanism might help to explain why slumping appears to be more frequent than average during the interval around the last glacial maximum.”

    It’s an old article from 1999, only recently put online:

    Geophysical Research Letters
    Volume 26, Issue 19, pages 2981–2984, 1 October 1999

    Metastability of gas hydrate
    Bruce A. Buffett, Olga Y. Zatsepina
    Article first published online: 7 DEC 2012
    DOI: 10.1029/1999GL002339

    Look back at the original posts of the various RC topics on methane for why this gets interesting (maybe) — because the known deep hydrates melt from the bottom.

  442. Hank Roberts:

    The Buffet and Zatsepina 1999 paper is cited by 13 subsequent papers:


  443. Hank Roberts:

    Killian apparently alludes to Fleck, claiming I think otherwise.

    One must not forget that there exists no fully completed science but only one that is becoming.

    Ludwik Fleck, “On the crisis of ‘reality’” (1929)

  444. David B. Benson:

    I would prefer leaving policy implications to other blogs, despite the Real Climate moderators liberal policy.

    Stick to climatology; it is difficult enough.

  445. Radge Havers:

    Well, considering that one of the starter topics for this month’s UV is ‘advocacy’, which sort of implies a question of how to approach policy, it seems strange to object to at least a limited discussion here — of how to approach policy anyway.

    Not where I was going with that…

    Sounds like they’re doing pretty well on the public health front

  446. AIC:

    It would be helpful if more of the climate scientists would write more articles for popular press, and perhaps even join in some of the online comments on articles, perhaps spending a little less time here.

    Those of us who are not climate scientists don’t know how to reply to some of the statements that get posted as comments. Maybe they are taking things out of context, maybe cherry-picking, but it can be difficult to know how to respond, whether to just say somebody is spewing BS.

    On the other hand, I remember Gavin detailing how he spent 4 hours researching to reply to a bogus claim, so I can appreciate the need not to be too distracted.

    [Response: well, some of us do ;-) e.g. here, here or here.-mike]

  447. Jim Larsen:

    438 SA said, ” We already know what we need to do,”

    Yes and no. Unfortunately, we have competing directions. Some want wind and solar. Others want fracking to replace coal. Raising efficiency and a carbon tax is another way. And then there’s the n-word.

  448. Hank Roberts:

    John N-G at Climateabyss, “learning-from-the-hiatus”

    Judith Curry got rather excited by some of the numbers in Kosaka and Xie….
    Curry’s mind-blowing reading of the paper is incorrect. What she missed …

  449. Hank Roberts:

    hm, I’d swear there was a link in that. Oh well, here it is:

  450. Hank Roberts:

    A science(y) blog’s editors apologize for having been fooled into promoting bogosity, after their readers pointed out the problems. They did ok here: