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The story of methane in our climate, in five pie charts

Filed under: — david @ 23 September 2014

106 Responses to “The story of methane in our climate, in five pie charts”

  1. 101
    Will says:

    http://skepticalscience.com/long-hot-tail-eocene.html

    This latest SkS piece is mostly about the Eocene, but it makes mention at the end of the warmer interglacials of the recent past, the ones often looked at when discussing the methane issue. According to this article, while those interglacials were warmer, the deep oceans were only slightly so compared to today’s warming. Is this accounted for in the estimates of methane release from deep-sea hydrates – or, does it even have to be? Does the length of time needed for the heat signal to reach the deposits still argue against any near-term major release?

  2. 102
    Geoff Beacon says:

    Mal Adapted @94

    [A decent carbon tax] if imposed soon enough, would render talk of geo-engineering moot, by driving a rapid transition to non-fossil energy sources.

    If a rapid transition were enough that would be fine but some are suggesting we need to be at 350ppm atmosperic CO2 and others even lower (i.e.considerably below current levals).

    The point about a high carbon tax is that it would give future generations more options by cutting carbon emissions and controlling climate by geoengineering. It would do it by unleashing the power of a price driven market. If such a carbon tax were very successful less geoengineering might be needed.

    If the tax were recyled as in Hansen’s carbon fee or similar it would engender a more equal distribution of wealth. It’s worth noting that amongst developed nations more equal societies are happier. (See Richard Wilkinson’s Ted Talk)

    To return to methane: cutting these emissions would also give future generations more options as I argued @77 above.

  3. 103
    David B. Benson says:

    And the methane comes from
    http://www.livescience.com/48229-four-corners-methane-hotspot.html
    in the USA.

  4. 104
    Mal Adapted says:

    Geoff Beacon:

    The point about a high carbon tax is that it would give future generations more options by cutting carbon emissions and controlling climate by geoengineering. It would do it by unleashing the power of a price driven market. If such a carbon tax were very successful less geoengineering might be needed.

    Yes, I should have made it clear I really don’t disagree with your argument. I support carefully-designed projects to sequester carbon in soils, etc. OTOH, the sooner GHG emissions are reduced to zero, the less traction wild-eyed proposals to inject SO2 into the upper atmosphere, for example, will gain.

  5. 105
    larsjaeger says:

    First some basics: methane (CH4) is a very simple molecule (one carbon surrounded by four hydrogen atoms) and is created predominantly by bacteria that feed on organic material. In dry conditions, there is plenty of atmospheric oxygen, and so aerobic bacteria which produce carbon dioxide (CO2) are preferred.

  6. 106
    Hank Roberts says:

    I noted this and quoted the abstract in the open thread, but it belongs here:
    ________________
    it’s remarkable how precisely satellite measurement of methane actually at ground level is being detected with these satellite instruments — for example:
    Atmos. Meas. Tech., 7, 491-506, 2014
    http://www.atmos-meas-tech.net/7/491/2014/
    doi:10.5194/amt-7-491-2014
    © Author(s) 2014. This work is distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

    Retrieval techniques for airborne imaging of methane concentrations using high spatial and moderate spectral resolution: application to AVIRIS

    They’re measuring it downwind of oil storage tanks! And the next generation sensors are even better.
    _____________________

    I understand there’s industry opposition to this kind of spot detection of sources (for any chemical, whether done from the ground or air or satellite).

    But I’d expect we should be seeing more soon that will tell us where the methane is coming from.