There are alot of potential disasters looming all pointing to GW ( Global Warming ) as the root casue. From increased hurricane frequency and
severity, to droughts, to flooding , to sea level rise and Glacial melting. I have posted on several of these very real and very serious enviromental
consequences of a warming Earth. Decreased salinity and slowing of important oceanic currents to ice ages and a runaway greenhouse effect. All are
real possibilities and the repurcussions of any one are dire indeed .
This is my first attempt to bring to the forefront a most troubling , very real, and indeed cataclysmic scenario...that of a huge Methane
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 alone ( A gigaton (or gigatonne) is a Metric Unit of mass, equal to 1,000,000,000 (1 billion) Metric tons,
1,000,000,000,000 (1 trillion) kilograms, or 1 quadrillion grams )- 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. It is estimated that worldwide
ocean sediments and permafrost contain between 5000 and 10, 000 billion tonnes
of methane. It has been produced by organic matter over
millions of years and become sealed up in ice structures known as clathrates.
LINK to SOURCE: www.environment-agency.gov.uk...
Levels of atmospheric methane, a powerful greenhouse gas, have risen 145% in the last 100 years
Once triggered, this cycle could result in runaway global warming the likes of which even the most pessimistic doomsayers aren't talking about
An apocalyptic fantasy concocted by hysterical environmentalists? Unfortunately, no. Strong geologic evidence suggests something similar has happened
at least twice before.
The most recent of these catastrophes occurred about 55 million years ago in what geologists call the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM), when
methane burps caused rapid warming and massive die-offs, disrupting the climate for more than 100,000 years.
The granddaddy of these catastrophes occurred 251 million years ago, at the end of the Permian period, when a series of methane burps came close to
wiping out all life on Earth.
More than 94 percent of the marine species present in the fossil record disappeared suddenly as oxygen levels plummeted and life teetered on the verge
of extinction. Over the ensuing 500,000 years, a few species struggled to gain a foothold in the hostile environment. It took 20 million to 30 million
years for even rudimentary coral reefs to re-establish themselves and for forests to regrow. In some areas, it took more than 100 million years for
ecosystems to reach their former healthy diversity.
The cause of all this havoc?
In both cases, a temperature increase of about 10.8 degrees Fahrenheit, about the upper range for the average global increase today's models predict
can be expected from burning fossil fuels by 2100. But these models could be the tail wagging the dog since they don't add in the effect of burps
from warming gas hydrates. Worse, as the Arctic Council found, the highest temperature increases from human greenhouse gas emissions will occur in the
arctic regions - an area rich in these unstable clathrates.
If we trigger this runaway release of methane, there's no turning back. No do-overs. Once it starts, it's likely to play out all the way.
LINK to SOURCE: www.energybulletin.net...
Image above: Methane in the World's Atmosphere: These maps show the distribution of methane at the surface (top) and in the stratosphere (lower),
calculated by a NASA computer model. Concentrations are shown in parts per million by volume. Methane is created near the surface, and it is carried
into the stratosphere by rising air in the tropics. Credit: GMAO Chemical Forecasts and GEOS–CHEM NRT Simulations for ICARTT (top) and NASA GSFC
Atmospheric Chemistry and Dynamics Branch (lower)
Back with more soon
[edit on 30-9-2005 by Alias Jones]