Organic decomposition forms methane.
Over thousands of years methane has been deposited in "permafrost" tundra areas (poles) as "clathrate" and under cold water areas.. The total is estimated as 400 Gigatons, enough energy for hundreds of years.
Recently 344 acres - - CH4 released from permafrost area - - burned.
Very, VERY BAD!
Methane burns to form CO2: CH4 + 2 O2 ------> CO2 + 2 H2O
Why does Washington not pay attention to this?
My guess is that there is no Methane union that can fill these Bozo's pockets.
Thawed and ignited, this could be a cause of earth's destruction.
But this administration supports - - most environmentally destructive action - - coal strip mining. Brainless? No question about it!
Below is a collection (from my files) of key references re. Methane, CH4.
Now we learn that 344 square miles of tundra has been blackened, that's 344 square miles of permafrost that will absorb more solar energy until nature repairs the burn. My guess .... this patch of tundra will be some of the most studied ever.
Dkos writer oxon wrote today about the melting permafrost and how lakes in Alaska are now boiling due to the release of methane gas. The story he references from Science Daily mentions that researchers are now finding methane bubbles rising from lakes in the Alaskan tundra.
Last month, UAF researcher Katey Walter brought a National Public Radio crew to Alaska’s North Slope, hoping to show them examples of what happens when methane is released when permafrost thaws beneath lakes.
When they reached their destination, Walter and the crew found even more than they bargained for: a lake violently boiling with escaping methane.
Yet, just last year scientists in Siberia were reporting lakes were boiling so violently from the release of methane gas that the lakes could not freeze even in the depths of winter. One scientist in Siberia who has been studying the Siberian bogs for 15 years has seen dramatic changes in the past few years.
Many scientists believe that since methane is 20 times more damaging as a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide, any release of the vast reserves frozen in Siberia could have its own damaging effects on the earth's temperature. Kirpotin says methane is bubbling up so violently in some of the lakes, it stops them from freezing even at the depth of winter.
"It's very difficult for experts to measure exactly how much concentrated methane is being released into the atmosphere. That means the process could be happening many times more quickly than we think."
The northern tundra (and the undersea methane ice) are all the result of massive amounts of biomass being converted to a simpler carbon form in an anaerobic environment. The frozen northern tundra has trapped some 400 gigatons of methane gas for tens of thousands of years. It is the release of this trapped methane that scientists worry about.
Methane Burps: Ticking Time Bomb
by John Atcheson
The Arctic Council's recent report on the effects of global warming in the far north paints a grim picture: global floods, extinction of polar bears and other marine mammals, collapsed fisheries. But it ignored a ticking time bomb buried in the Arctic tundra.
There are enormous quantities of naturally occurring greenhouse gasses trapped in ice-like structures in the cold northern muds and at the bottom of the seas. These ices, called clathrates, contain 3,000 times as much methane as is in the atmosphere. Methane is more than 20 times as strong a greenhouse gas as carbon dioxide.
Now here's the scary part. A temperature increase of merely a few degrees would cause these gases to volatilize and "burp" into the atmosphere, which would further raise temperatures, which would release yet more methane, heating the Earth and seas further, and so on. There's 400 gigatons of methane locked in the frozen arctic tundra - enough to start this chain reaction - and the kind of warming the Arctic Council predicts is sufficient to melt the clathrates and release these greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.
Once triggered, this cycle could result in runaway global warming the likes of which even the most pessimistic doomsayers aren't talking about.
Scientists Find New Global Warming 'Time Bomb’
by Seth Borenstein
Methane bubbles trapped in lake ice in Siberia in early autumn.
Methane trapped in a special type of permafrost is bubbling up at rate five times faster than originally measured, according to a study in the Thursday, Sept. 6, 2006, issue of the journal Nature.
Photo: AP/Nature, Katey Walter
WASHINGTON — Global warming gases trapped in the soil are bubbling out of the thawing permafrost in amounts far higher than previously thought and may trigger what researchers warn is a climate time bomb.
Methane — a greenhouse gas 23 times more powerful than carbon dioxide — is being released from the permafrost at a rate five times faster than thought, according to a study being published today in the journal Nature. The findings are based on new, more accurate measuring techniques.
“The effects can be huge,” said lead author Katey Walter of the University of Alaska at Fairbanks said. “It’s coming out a lot and there’s a lot more to come out.”
Scientists worry about a global warming vicious cycle that was not part of their already gloomy climate forecast: Warming already under way thaws permafrost, soil that has been continuously frozen for thousands of years. Thawed permafrost releases methane and carbon dioxide. Those gases reach the atmosphere and help trap heat on Earth in the greenhouse effect. The trapped heat thaws more permafrost and so on.
“The higher the temperature gets, the more permafrost we melt, the more tendency it is to become a more vicious cycle,” said Chris Field, director of global ecology at the Carnegie Institution of Washington, who was not part of the study. “That’s the thing that is scary about this whole thing. There are lots of mechanisms that tend to be self-perpetuating and relatively few that tend to shut it off.”
According to the annual report from UNEP (UNEP YEAR BOOK 2008), new data show that the emission of methane from permafrost areas has been underestimated.
It is now estimated that each year somewhere between 150 and 250 million tons of methane are released into the atmosphere from wetlands. A third of the total output comes from arctic regions according to the UN climate panel. But, anywhere from 750 to 950 billion tons methane are trapped in the organic materials underground in the arctic permafrost regions; with permafrost being defined as ground that has remained frozen for more than two years.
One report estimates that a total of 50 billion tons of methane could be released from the Siberian wetlands alone. That would be a ten fold increase in the methane content of the atmosphere compared to the present.
According to the annual report from UNEP, “Observations of melting rivers in the northeastern parts of Siberia indicates that this process might have begun already,”
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