Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Don't sweat the methane, the ongoing change is bad enough

Prior to the New Year, the NYT's Dot Earth dissected alarming reports of increasing methane being released from thawing permafrost. As the December 14th installment relates

But read this summary of the paper from the American Geophysical Union, which publishes the journal, and see if you feel reassured that the “methane time bomb” there is safe for a long time to come:
[T]he authors found that roughly 1 meter of the subsurface permafrost thawed in the past  25 years, adding to the 25 meters of already thawed soil. Forecasting the expected future permafrost thaw, the authors found that even under the most extreme climatic scenario tested this thawed soil growth will not exceed 10 meters by 2100 or 50 meters by the turn of the next millennium. The authors note that the bulk of the methane stores in the east Siberian shelf are   trapped roughly 200 meters below the seafloor…
To me this is another case were we are facing a real  problem but the atteention gets focused on the more dire, but less supported by data scenario.  And going by the temperature anomalies from GISTEMP for September, October and November 2011 the warming we have is significant without any methane induced doomsday.

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