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Unforced variations: August 2013

Filed under: — group @ 1 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 Responses to “Unforced variations: August 2013”

  1. 101
    Hank Roberts says:

    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….”

  2. 102
  3. 103
    prokaryotes says:

    Methane anomaly following record temperature and extensive late season extensive melt over West-Greenland ice sheet,


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

  4. 104
    Susan Anderson says:

    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 …

  5. 105
    Killian says:

    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.

  6. 106
    AndyL says:

    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.

  7. 107
    Hank Roberts says:

    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

  8. 108
    David B. Benson says:

    Not climate but
    Bizarre ‘Meteotsunami’ Stirred Waves in UK

  9. 109
    David B. Benson says:

    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.”

  10. 110
    prokaryotes says:

    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…

  11. 111
    Hank Roberts says:

    > 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?

  12. 112
    David B. Benson says:

    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?

  13. 113
    sidd says:

    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.


  14. 114
    prokaryotes says:

    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 Circle

  15. 115
    Steve Fish says:

    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


  16. 116
    owl905 says:

    @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.

  17. 117
    patrick says:

    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.

  18. 118
    MARodger says:

    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?

  19. 119
    patrick says:

    “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.

  20. 120
    Nafeez says:

    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 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.

  21. 121

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

  22. 122
    Hank Roberts says:

    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.

  23. 123
    Steve Fish says:

    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.


  24. 124
    prokaryotes says:

    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.

  25. 125
    MARodger says:

    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?).

  26. 126
    Hank Roberts says:

    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.

  27. 127
    Doug says: 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.

  28. 128
  29. 129
    Doug says:

    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.

  30. 130
  31. 131
    patrick says:

    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.

  32. 132
    Killian says:

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

  33. 133
    Killian says:

    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. 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]

  34. 134
    Hank Roberts says:

    > 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.

  35. 135
    prokaryotes says:

    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

    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

    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

    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

  36. 136
    prokaryotes says:

    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)

  37. 137
  38. 138
    Steve Fish says:

    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).


  39. 139

    #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.

  40. 140
    Steve Fish says:

    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

  41. 141
    Hank Roberts says:

    “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…..

  42. 142
    Tom says:

    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.

  43. 143
    Steve Fish says:

    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

  44. 144
    Killian says:

    [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?

  45. 145
    Killian says:

    Hank: You missed it.



  46. 146
    patrick says:

    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.

  47. 147

    #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.

  48. 148
    Radge Havers says:

    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.

  49. 149
    Steve Fish says:

    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.


  50. 150