Sound of Seep

September 14, 2014

arctic-x-section-350Deep, thick-damp fog this early Sunday on California’s north coast — all-gray without not much sound, either.

Looking back on this past week, lost in the news shuffle, which included ‘official‘ declaration of another endless war, and sunshine full of rare, double-dosed magnetically-charged solar particles, was wail of a nasty climate-change alarm bell — clanking vibrations through warming air, unmatched above the din.
Yet, who’s listening?

(Illustration found here).

The most-crucial, and most-shortly-to-be-seen, and, the most-life-threatening piece of subject matter is climate change — and by far, the way-biggest news story in a long, long time.
All narrative has three parts, a beginning, a middle, and an end — and we as inhabitants of this planet, are in the third segment. The problem is climate change is way-less subtle than, say, a horrific video of someone getting beheaded, and real action to curb the apparent inevitable in our environment is pushed aside.
We’re at a place where so much bad shit is happening at once, only what’s on today’s agenda is important, not tomorrow’s — even if we’re closing in on midnight.

If you follow climate change, then the threat of methane seepage is nothing new — last month, however, there was something new under the methane-seeping sun:

“Warming of ocean temperatures on seasonal, decadal or much longer timescales can cause gas hydrates to release methane, which may then be emitted at seep sites,” says co-author Carolyn Ruppel.
“Such continental slope seeps have previously been recognized in the Arctic, but not at mid-latitudes.
“So this is a first.”

This off a study published at Nature Geoscience, which suggested “…tens of thousands of seeps could be discoverable.”
And back to that lost news item last week — from Climate Central on Friday, and some encouraging stuff, though, bittersweet:

Frozen soils known as permafrosts can be found across the planet, and they’re concentrated heavily in the Arctic, which has been warming since the 1980s at twice the global rate.
Taken together, permafrosts contain more carbon than is already in the atmosphere.
Their warming-induced breakdown is helping to fill the atmosphere with greenhouse gases.
In a self-feeding cycle, that’s fueling the very climatic changes that are causing permafrost to waste away.
“What everyone’s really concerned about is how all this permafrost carbon is going to decompose,” said aquatic geochemist Rose Cory, an assistant professor at the University of Michigan.
“If all of that gets turned into carbon dioxide, then we’ll more than double the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.”
A team of U.S. scientists led by Cory studied Arctic waterways and found that nearly half of the carbon that’s eroding from melting Arctic permafrost is flowing through rivers and lakes and ending up in the seas.
Eventually, that sea-bound carbon is likely to be gobbled into aquatic food chains or to settle on ocean floors.
The rest is being oxidized in waterways into carbon dioxide, floating into the skies instead of out to sea.

“Some have speculated that all the permafrost soil carbon would be rapidly released to the atmosphere as carbon dioxide once it flushed into rivers and lakes,” Cory said.
“I think it’s encouraging that not all of this carbon that’s coming out of the soil gets turned into carbon dioxide. It’s producing this stuff that’s going to get washed from permafrost, which is one freezer, into the Arctic Ocean, which you can think of as another freezer.”
The worrying news, no matter how you dice the de-icing permafrost findings?
“There’s so much carbon stored in northern permafrost soils that even if, say, 10 percent of that carbon is released through the processes we studied, it would still have a big impact,” Cory said.
She calculated that “conservative” scenario would raise atmospheric carbon dioxide levels by 75 to 80 parts per million — over and above the effects of continued fossil fuel burning and other causes.
And that, she said, would lead to “a lot of warming.”

Also last week, though it did get more media play, the World Meteorological Organization released its Greenhouse Gas Bulletin: According to the report, in 2013, concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere was 142 per cent of the pre-industrial era (1750), and of methane and nitrous oxide 253 per cent and 121 per cent respectively.
Wendy Watson-Wright, executive secretary of the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization: “If global warming is not a strong enough reason to cut CO2 emissions, ocean acidification should be, since its effects are already being felt and will increase for many decades to come. I echo WMO Secretary General Jarraud’s concern – we are running out of time.”

Well said, Wendy. Last June, an ABC News/Washington Post poll indicated nearly 70 percent of Americans seem climate change as a serious problem, but the real-good news was this: Further among those who do see global warming, also known as climate change, as a serious problem, the vast majority, 83 percent say it’s “very” serious.

That’s comforting, though, a bit quiet..

(Illustration out front here).

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