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« Judge rules global warming is a religious belief | Main | Quote of the Week »


John Boy

So, a rat can sense a sinking ship?

Thomas Everth

Its all in the spin you put on it, isn't it?

The findings that indicate a greater role of Methane than initially thought in warming is indeed troubling: Due to the warming already underway, large amounts of Methane are being released now from the thaw of the arctic permafrost as well potentially large amounts from Methane Clathrate deposits in the ocean floor. In other words the further positive feedback of the warming that is under way might have been underestimated. This is potentially very significant indeed and would make projections of future warming already in the pipeline much worse.

John Boy

"Its all in the spin you put on it, isn't it?"

And that is the problem. Debate is great but at the levels that matter we are not debating this at all.

Ian Wishart

You guys and your 'clathrates' - it's like the boogeyman in the cupboard for global warming believers.

Here's a little piece of news: the clathrates remain stable in cold water and under pressure conditions that certain exist at the bottom of the ocean except for the massive area under the Arctic subject to volcanism, which I detailed in Air Con.

Other than that, 99% of the waffle over at Hot Topic about clathrates is like listening to seven year old schoolgirls at a pajama party scaring themselves silly.

Whatever happened millions of years ago to cause temperatures to rise 10 degrees in just a few years had absolutely nothing to do with SUVs, factories, burping cows or incandescent light bulbs. It was natural, and nothing we do could stop such an event.

Given the oceans are showing no signs of warming at present, I don't think you are at any imminent risk of being burnt to a crisp by fart gas Thomas, and apparently neither does one of the most comprehensive studies of the theory:

"Ancient Greenland Ice Study of Methane May Be Good News for Planet, Says Study

April 23, 2009

CU-Boulder postdoctoral researcher Vasilii Petrenko, foreground, cleans a sample ice block from Greenland while Scripps Institution of Oceanography Professor Jeff Severinghaus loads another ice block into a vacuum melting tank. Photo courtesy Hinrich Schaefer.

An analysis of ancient Greenland ice suggests a spike in the greenhouse gas methane about 11,600 years ago originated from wetlands rather than the ocean floor or from permafrost, a finding that is good news according to the University of Colorado at Boulder scientist who led the study."

In other words, 'permafrost', 'ocean floor' don't seem to be major threats.


And yet the Herald had an article in their paper edition about Gore's new book (reprinted from other media sources obviously) which mentioned nothing about this - talk about selective journalism. The Herald also ran an article yesterday or the day before, retelling that lie about how climate change is melting the Himalayas.

It looks like the warmists are pulling out all the stops now.


ps, there is also an article in today's Herald about how Gore is likely to become the first 'carbon billionaire'.

Thomas Everth

Here a brief list of some articles (all 2008 or 2009 studies) that say the complete opposite:

Links are to summary reports in the press, you will be able to find the actual papers.

I recommend this:

Or this:

Or this:

From the last article (May 2008, Nature) on Clathrates causing abrupt climate change in the past:

"Our findings document an abrupt and catastrophic means of global warming that abruptly led from a very cold, seemingly stable climate state to a very warm also stable climate state with no pause in between,” said Martin Kennedy, a professor of geology in the Department of Earth Sciences, who led the research team.

Ian Wishart

Sigh. The paper I first quoted above was 2009. Here's a late 2008:

Titre du document / Document title
Estimating the potential for methane clathrate instability in the 1%-CO2 IPCC AR-4 simulations
Auteur(s) / Author(s)
LAMARQUE Jean-Francois (1) ;
Affiliation(s) du ou des auteurs / Author(s) Affiliation(s)
(1) Atmospheric Chemistry Division, National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, Colorado, ETATS-UNIS

Résumé / Abstract
The recent work of Reagan and Moridis (2007) has shown that even a limited warming of 1 K over 100 years can lead to clathrate destabilization, leading to a significant flux of methane into the ocean water, at least for shallow deposits.

Here we study the potential for methane clathrate destabilization by identifying the 100-year temperature increase in the available IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) AR-4 1%-CO2 increase per year (up to doubling over pre-industrial conditions, which occurs after 70 years) simulations.

Depending on assumptions made on the possible locations (in this case, only depth) of methane clathrates and on temperature dependence, our calculation leads to an estimated model-mean release of methane at the bottom of the ocean of approximately 560-2140 Tg(CH4)/ year; as no actual geographical distribution of methane clathrates is considered here, these flux estimates must be viewed as upper bound estimates.

Using an observed 1 % ratio to estimate the amount of methane reaching the atmosphere, our analysis leads to a relatively small methane flux of approximately 5-21 Tg(CH4)/year [that's 5 to 21 million tonnes, not billion tonnes - Wishart], with an estimated inter-model standard deviation of approximately 30%. The role of sea-level rise by 2100 will be to further stabilize methane clathrates, albeit to a small amount as the sea-level rise is expected to be less than a few meters.

Revue / Journal Title
Geophysical research letters ISSN 0094-8276 CODEN GPRLAJ
Source / Source
2008, vol. 35, no19, [Note(s): L19806.1-L19806.4] (1/2 p.)
Langue / Language

Editeur / Publisher
American Geophysical Union, Washington, DC, ETATS-UNIS (1974) (Revue)

In other words, even assuming a release of methane clathrates, their actual impact is estimated (remember, it's all speculative on this subject) would be equivalent to at most 400 million tonnes of CO2, a drop in the bucket compared to the 32 billion tonnes being added by humans each year.


Thomas Everth

Vasilii Petrenko's paper looked at a process 11,600 years ago. The fact that at that time Clathrates may not have been involved (according to his reasoning) is no reason to assume that that they will not be, once temperatures get warmer than they were at that time to trigger their involvement. This is a very selective study looking at a brief period.

And as far as Ocean temperatures go: "The worldwide ocean surface temperature of 62.4 degrees F was the warmest on record for any August, and 1.03 degrees F above the 20th century average of 61.4 degrees F." NOAA, August 2009

No warming of the Oceans then?

Ian Wishart

SSTs primarily reflect solar forcing and the effects of cloud cover or dust and other aerosols. That's why they fluctuate up and down. You are not claiming one month's data is proof of AGW are you?

Secondly, Sea Surface Temperatures, by definition, are not a measure of ocean heat. As any schmuck who has ever floated at the beach and then dived under a wave can tell you, surface temperatures quickly get colder.

Even after 'correction', the Argo project found no evidence of warming.

Thirdly, the second study I quoted says it'll take your clathrate scare at face value, but then asks how much of that gas hits the atmosphere, and concludes nothing very significant.

And the more the sea level rises, the less important clathrates become.

Ian Wishart

By the way, try and avoid tinyurls if possible. Zonealarm and another firewall we have here have gone from yellow to redflag on Tiny, saying "this site is known to distribute spyware".

Thomas Everth

And this:

David Barber, Canada's Research Chair in Arctic System Science at the University of Manitoba on Arctic Sea Ice melting: (Oct 29, 2009)

"I've never seen anything like this in my 30 years of working in the high Arctic ... it was very dramatic. .... The Arctic is warming up three times more quickly than the rest of the Earth, in part because of the reflectivity, or the albedo feedback effect, of ice.

As more and more ice melts, larger expanses of darker sea water are exposed. These absorb more sunlight than the ice and cause the water to heat up more quickly, thereby melting more ice.

Barber said the ice was now being melted both by rays from the sun as well as from below by the warmer water."

Arctic warming is the one to watch in reference to Permafrost thaw and Clathratres.

Ian Wishart

Item 1. The idea of modern Arctic melt being unprecedented is a load of old hooey.

This report from 1817 makes that clear:

"Our readers need not be informed that larger masses of ice than ever were before known have this year been seen floating in the Atlantic, and that from their magnitude and solidity, they reached even the fortieth latitude before they were melted into a fluid state.

"From an examination of the Greenland captains, it has been found that owing to some convulsions of nature , the sea was more open and moiré free from compact ice than in any former voyage they ever made: that several ships actually reached the eighty-fourth degree of latitude, in which no ice whatever was found; that for the first time for 400 years, vessels penetrated to the west coast of Greenland, and that they apprehended no obstacle to their even reaching the pole, if it had consisted with their duty to their employers to make the attempt."

Explorers found the remains of tropical coconuts and other "West Indies fruits" washed up on islands off the north eastern coast of Greenland, because of the far northern reach of the Gulf Stream in some years.

One report from 1893 talks of this:

"…Another important point which was well determined is that the water at a little depth below the ice is not arctic water; it has a temperature slightly above freezing; it is pretty surely the end of the Gulf Stream movement, and as such it was recognized by Nansen. If this under-water is flowing to the east-ward, it seems likely that the westward drift is a surface return of the same stream, to a certain extent mingled with the discharge of the numerous great rivers which enter the Arctic Ocean from the American and Eurasian continents. Whether the great depth of the sea can be considered an indication that the region immediately about the pole is also covered by water is not clear…”

So that's one aspect of Arctic melt that needs to be factored in better by Barber and others. Warm sunshine beating down on Arctic ocean might indeed heat it up slightly, but it can't "magic up" a lovely bunch of coconuts. The KISS principle (Occam's Razor) strongly suggests warm ocean currents are more likely to be the cause of under the ice melt.

Arctic sea ice extent exceeded the 30 year average earlier this year, and extent is the most relevant factor to albedo, not volume, which suggests albedo issues are not the cause of Arctic warming.

Peer reviewed studies in the past 12 months have found Saharan dust responsible for about 70% of the warming or cooling of the Atlantic ocean (thus being a major driver of Gulf Stream temperatures), and a NOAA study found "nearly half" of the warming formerly attributed to AGW over Canada and North America now turns out to be natural in origin, pinned back to changes in ocean currents.

Occam's razor again suggests that if anything is impacting on clathrates, it will be warmer ocean currents driven by natural, unstoppable phenomena.

Stop terrifying yourself. Que sera, sera.

Ian Wishart

PS, David Barber is the guy who made the ridiculous prediction, on the basis of a one year trend, that Arctic sea ice would be gone by the summer of 2015.

He's since been forced to watch summer sea ice extent grow, not retreat, but it seems he is unable to read the signs if he is still saying silly things as above.

Thomas Everth

Ian, the main message in the recent observations (Barber et. al) is that that the ice now present is thin and not the multi-year ice that once was prevalent. It is to be expected that the annual ice extend will vary due to short term fluctuations but the longer trend seems inevitable. And until 2015 a lot can and will happen.

Of cause if and when clathrates are impacted and the permafrost melts, this will then be called "an unstoppable natural phenomenon." The "unstoppable" will be correct, the "natural" however will be left to historians to determine.

Ian, I callenge you: Besides criticizing the IPCC / Copenhagen / GW Alarmists etc., what are you standing for? What is your aim? In which direction would you like the 'human enterprise' to move forward?

Ian Wishart

Thomas, Barber is an ice Jeremiah, all of whose predictions have so far been wrong.

The theory behind single year and double year ice failed when 2007 bounced back into 2008 and 2008 grew into 2009. In fact, the 2007 minima had more to do with the Gulf Stream and wind patterns pushng the ice south than it did with warming per se.

If and when the clathrates melt, I'm very confident it'll have nothing to do with AGW. CO2, and for that matter CH4, can only absorb a certain amount of radiation and their impact as greenhouse gases dwindles quite rapidly once certain saturations are reached.

It is, as I understand the science, physically impossible for CO2 to push the temperature up much beyond a couple of degrees from where it is now, and when you consider it was hotter in the MWP and we're all still here, that doesn't spell 'catastrophe' to me.

It was 30% hotter in the Arctic and Greenland in the 1930s than it is now, and we suffered no methane explosions or massive sea level increases.

You ask what I stand for in this debate: level-headedness.

Yes, earth is warming. No, it isn't catastrophic and there is no empirical evidence supporting catastrophic computer modelling.

None of the GCM's predicted the current deceleration in warming.

We could waste trillions of dollars fighting a problem that is unbeatable, ie, if the earth is warming naturally as it sometimes does there is nothing you can do to stop it, nothing.

That money could be much better spent irrigating places like the Sahara and improving farm efficiency. There are studies that suggest the existing world population could be easily fed on 30% of the land currently used for agriculture, if existing technology was better utilised.

That means 70% of what is currently farmland could be returned to forest or jungle and resume its role as a carbon sink.

Read Air Con. Seriously.

Thomas Everth

I wish you luck irrigating the Sahara Ian! I hope rising temperatures this century won't get in your way.

Ian Wishart

Scoff all you like Thomas ;), I was reading something only last night about how charities stumped up the cash to drill 3000 water wells in Ethiopia over the past ten years, and the resulting verdant growth has returned rain to the region and changed the climate.

Air Con quotes peer-reviewed studies on vast underground lakes beneath the Sahara, extensive enough and shallow enough to be drilled for irrigation at a fraction of the cost of fighting climate change for one year.

Thomas Everth

That sounds interesting indeed. If it feeds the people and gives them clean water then I am all for it.
Hope its not in the end the same story as with India, where the fast dropping water tables from the pumping out of ancient aquifers indicate that their current water use is unsustainable with dire consequences ahead.


Thomas, RealClimate have a good piece about the misrepresentation that Ian has bought into

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