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Researchers Worry Methane Discovery in Arctic Ocean Could Signal Dangerous New Climate Feedback Loop

Originally published at http://www.commondreams.org/news/2020/10/27/researchers-worry-methane-discovery-arctic-ocean-could-signal-dangerous-new-climate

And soon the entire planet will be crying out," I can’t breathe." And quickly after that people will be looking around for who to blame first—not that this will solve anything. : (


Try the Japanese - they have been experimenting with the production of methane from clathrates for years now - looks like it will work. For them a bonanza.

Not everyone is clued in yet.

Hi manysummits—what are, " clathrates" and what do they do?

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The Arctic Ocean’s ice extent isn’t in record low territory, it’s in crazy territory now. ~https://nsidc.org/arcticseaicenews/

The northeast passage from Japan to Europe via the Russian coast is supposed to be permanently closed. As of Halloween it will still be wide open this year. The ocean is just not freezing up. The ocean is (relatively) way too hot.

The year 2012 was a wild anomaly. Today the ice extent is about 1.3 million square kilometers below that wild anomaly year for October 27.

Every year more sunshine pours down into the deep ocean and the deep ocean gets hotter. That’s how the deep ocean works. At a great depth it gets relatively hot and then it stays overheated for many decades. Now the ice won’t freeze that well and the ocean will stay blue every spring and summer, and that will just increase the solar heating of the deep ocean even more.

All of this heating is going into the melting of the water molecules holding the methane hydrates together on the sea bed and below the sea bed. Up comes the carbon. In shallow waters, up come the methane bubbles toward the atmosphere.

We’ve seen evidence of huge methane blowouts on land. We might equally see some deep-water methane blowouts where quite a bit of methane reaches the surface.

I haven’t looked into the idea of the poles releasing enough methane to asphyxiate great numbers of people. If it happened, it would probably be land-based methane doing 90% of the job.

The first human remedy to a huge methane event is to develop a tiny wind-powered spark machine that can flare off much of the methane as it comes to the surface. It’s better than nothing.


This article used the term “methane hydrates”. “Methane clathrates” are methane hydrates.


Hi PaulK:
Thank your that! Flare off the methane…oh is it that simple? : 0

Could be a real $$$$$$$ BONANZA for the greedy capitalists, I can see it now: BIG SALE ON OXYGEN! Get yours before we run out.

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Some perspective, because this methane stuff gets all out of hand, frankly. It’s been the imminent end of the methane world any year now for at least 20 years, so we come to acquire some fact-checking mechanisms to evaluate the relative importance of this emission (versus, say, fugitive methane from fracking). It’s not pooh-poohing methane. CH4 is around 35 times more potent than CO2 as a greenhouse gas (over the first 20 years), so it’s where cutbacks can be most immediately effective and important.

On the other hand, we regularly see the “OMG the great global methane burp (ggmb) has started!” story – especially from Semilotov, whose work has consistently failed to attempt an assessment of how the methane releases they’re observing might compare to historical releases. How can we tell how much methane is really reaching the atmosphere?

Not a toughie: We have a global network of atmospheric monitoring stations (some folks say you can’t believe any of this data, but that’s certainly not a scientific attitude):


There’s your full-service station in Barrow, Alaska. Dial up any length of methane monitoring and make up your own mind how it looks to you. CH4’s rise, as measured in all stations I’ve seen, steadily rises, and the rate of rise steadily accelerates. But the trend we see here ain’t no burp (ggmb). So calm down a little bit, if you like.

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Here’s one: if the majority of methane hydrates are released by rapid thawing of the arctic and subsequent release from ocean beds as the oceans warm the party for humans will indeed be over. That particular tipping point may have already been crossed and we are like the guy in “Dead Man Walking”, already dead. The rapid thawing of the arctic is the absolute worst thing that can happen due to global warming; something we weren’t taught about when I was learning about the subject in the early 70’s.

Several past mass extinction events were preceded by massive amounts of methane release from volcanic activity or other factors not precisely understood. We are in deep do-do as a little kid might say. The use of the world ‘dangerous’ in the headline is a slightly conservative assumption, a rapid release would be, to say it mildly, catastrophic.

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I don’t know that burning methane as a flaring system might do solves the problem because as methane burns it still releases CO2 which stays in the atmosphere hundreds of years. Also off the coast of New Zealand there has been discovered methane releases from deep in the ocean surrounding that island state. Too much methane too quick and we all cook.


Check out the images in this Wikipedia write up Stars: - the first two paragraphs summarize things nicely as well.


Here’s a nice BBC article on Japan’s CH4 clathrate explorations:


This is my personal worry - speculative to a point - but based on science - especially complex unfortunately, as it involves several disciplines - earthquake science, deformation of the Earth’s crust by a combination of rising seas (pushes down) - and melting ice (push is up as ice melts).

The Arctic Ocean is home to both rising seas, and melting ice, side by each. Warm ocean water is also warming up the seafloor, where the clathrates are trapped by a combination of near zero temps and pressure.

As this article suggests, there are already leaks of methane from the dethawing methane clathrates, for many years now, and increasing.

Lets say the rising seas and the melting ice work together, one pushing down as sea level rises, the other pushing up as the icecaps on land beside the sea melt.

Maybe an earthquake happens, and a large volume of frozen clathrate saturated sediment destabilizes, releasing a real burp of methane. If this methane is either a big enough burp to make it through a deep water column to the surface, or if the seabed is shallow - one could see a lot released to the atmosphere in a little.

This would be a process that gets wrose and worse as time goes on, adding additional misery to an already miserable planet.

There will still be plenty of oxygen to breathe it will just be too hot to survive. Remember a wet bulb temperature of 95F is fatal in a very short while. The US usually uses a ‘heat index’ in place of wet bulb temperature. Much over a heat index of 120F is fatal after a short while.

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Methane release has been described as the ticking time bomb. Best to read up on this earth’s biggest mass extinction of all time if you haven’t already.

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And nearly eight billion silent partners are assisting them in their efforts.


p.s. with desire comes suffering.




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Hard to know what to think. Harari in “Sapiens” points out rightly I think that so much has changed in the last five hundred years, and that most are not comfortable with science and its jarring findings - and the way we think about life and death as a result.

I don’t know - I imagine the natural world will eventually clue everyone in - but really - where’s the foresight - where are the leaders trying to actually make things better, instead of worse ?

You know, Germany in the runnup to WW II - it had Leo Szilard and Einstein, Europe had many other absolutely top scientists. Most of them just wouldn’t work for a monkey like Hitler and his antediluvian social order - they left and came here.

Makes you wonder, if Trump steals this election, what the top scientists here will do. Maybe they won’t work for the monkeys either - and this time the monkeys are here.

Pretty damned depressing to see great organizations like NOAA and NASA castrated - told to shut up and tow the line for their mental, social and moral inferiors - and that’s an understatement by a few orders of magnitude.

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when the gigatons of frozen methane are melted and released from the ocean floor where they have been sequestered for millions of years–then it will be time to wish our cycle of life on this planet goodbye–welcome to the 6th Great extinction—happening in your neighborhood as we speak-brought to us by the greed of the capitalists and their tools —the members of our governments

that is the end of all life on this planet for the sake of a few dollars----in what can only be called --insanity of the highest order


The Caged Dragon:… Complacency
Thanks for posting this article… this article provides greater awareness of the Methane problem, the Methane Dragon… Unfortunately, and this is not a problem just with this article but many environmental reports, it harbors much complacency, truly a disservice to humanity… For without complacency there would be immediate action…put out the Fire, arrest that Con-man,…and so forth… here are a few examples…& please do add comments if you agree or not…
1.) "frozen methane deposits in the Arctic Ocean have been dispersing over a large area of Siberia, potentially fueling a dangerous new climate feedback loop. “…POTENTIALLY, No…these “dispersing”, or melting methane deposits releasing methane into the atmosphere will fuel climate feedback loops, or greater s.)uperheating.
2)…“new discovery has raised serious concerns that a new climate feedback loop may be starting.”… NO, it has started, not “may be starting”…not a new discovery either, this has been known about for some time…
3.)”“At this moment, there is unlikely to be any major impact on global warming, but the point is that this process has now been triggered,”… WTF, what are they saying here… Methane release on this scale WILL have , & is HAVING a major impact!!!
… Like I said this article is full of more complacencies… Leading people to inaction, indecision and so forth…

.And the caged Dragon.…these are methane molecules caged between frozen water molecues, calthrates… So as the temps warm, the ice melts, thus releasing the Dragon,…the Sleeping Dragon no longer sleeps, and like all Dragons, they breather fire and heat!!! Welcome to a Super-heating world… a place less hospitable to the human race as we currently know it.

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The Great Unraveling only continues to accelerate on a nonlinear scale. Humanity and most life on Earth is in hospice.