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Oct 27, 13
Methane
Historically, methane has been in the atmosphere at concentrations ranging from 300 ppb to 700 ppb extending back more than 400,000 years (Vostok Ice Core measurements). In the 1850s, atmospheric methane was somewhere in the neighborhood of 850 ppb. With the growth of industrialization, methane concentrations have grown as well. By the early 2000s, the concentration had increased to almost 1800 ppb.

On December 29, 2013, atmospheric methane recorded over the Arctic ocean was 2399 ppb. (http://arctic-news.blogspot.ca/2013/12/the-biggest-story-of-2013.html) That's an increase of almost 500% over historic levels. When this is graphed, once again, the ubiquitous hockey stick is seen.

Methane is much more potent as a greenhouse gas. Over 20 years, methane traps 72 times more heat than does CO2. As more methane is introduced into the atmosphere, temperature will increase much more quickly.

At this point, methane is measured in parts per Billion and CO2 in parts per Million. However, as noted in a comment below, there are huge amounts of methane stored in the arctic. Most of it is tucked away safely, frozen in tundra or on the ocean floor. As is being witnessed, however, as the arctic warms, the methane melts and is released into the atmosphere. As this more potent greenhouse gas is released, warming increases more rapidly, causing more methane to be released. The definition of a feedback loop.

A very thorough analysis of methane and its effects on climate can be found here: http://methane-hydrates.blogspot.com/2013/04/methane-hydrates.html

Image number 24 on the above link is a graph by Sam Carana produced in March of 2013. In it he projects temperature anomalies based on a variety of factors, methane release chief among them. Again, the ubiquitous hockey stick makes an appearance. The three scenarios all point to near term runaway global warming. All with a rise above 2° C by 2040. As has been demonstrated elsewhere, a 2° C rise is not compatible with current human activity and survival, and leads to rapid runaway warming. Two of his scenarios show 10° C by 2040. That is consistent with near term extinction of humans and most other life on Earth.

For the purposes of plotting extinction probability, 2036 will be used as the extinction date. This date is reached using the above referenced graph which shows that global temperatures will rise to 2° C by 2036. As already discussed, a 2° C rise has been determined to be inconsistent with industrial civilization and current population levels and will lead to runaway warming.

posted by | 10:57:08 AM |
Posted by Robin Datta | 5:15:44 AM | Dec 23, 13

The lag time for global warming is three or four decades. Paleoclimate records suggest a temperature 4°C higher than today's for a 400 ppm CO2.

But methane has already started bubbling out of the ocean in the Arctic, and has increased from areas of 1 km a few years ago to 150 km now. Just 1% of the methane deposits would be 50 Gt., enough to do us in. With the estimated 4°C increase in global temperature in a few decades from today's 400 ppm CO2, methane is almost a sure bet. In addition, Antarctic methane is also on the way up.

Posted by Dr. House | 9:18:05 AM | Jan 04, 14

Robin, your comment is appreciated, and the importance of methane cannot be overstated. It prompted me to compile more information on this vital topic. (See above.)

-------------------

The lag time for global warming is three or four decades. Paleoclimate records suggest a temperature 4°C higher than today's for a 400 ppm CO2.

But methane has already started bubbling out of the ocean in the Arctic, and has increased from areas of 1 km a few years ago to 150 km now. Just 1% of the methane deposits would be 50 Gt., enough to do us in. With the estimated 4°C increase in global temperature in a few decades from today's 400 ppm CO2, methane is almost a sure bet. In addition, Antarctic methane is also on the way up.

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