Is a global warming time bomb about to explode above the Arctic Circle?
Well, consider the following. . .
Massive CO2, methane releases pose global dangers
Charles Miller, the principal investigator in NASA’s Carbon in Arctic Reservoirs Vulnerability Experiment [CARVE] offers a stark assessment of the impacts of carbon dioxide and methane released from the Arctic and the potential of massive releases there accelerating global warming across the globe.
In the interview with Thom Hartmann for RT America’s The Big Picture, Carver says current scenarios could see a rise in carbon dioxide emissions to a total of as much as 20-50 billion metric tons by 2040, and by 2100 160 to 250 mllion metric tons — the latter number equivalent to all the carbon dioxide emitted by the industrial revolution since 1950.
Methane emissions would accelerate as the Arctic warms.
Climate change already underway in the Arctic, with the greatest impact on land surface, which also features a precarious living environment.
Is a Sleeping Giant Stirring in the Arctic?
The program notes:
Carbon in our atmosphere is a principal driver of climate change. And there’s a massive amount of carbon locked up in the earth’s northern polar region. So, NASA has decided to find out exactly how much carbon is in the Arctic region and how stable or unstable it might be and how it’s reacting to climate change. Joining me now for more on this is Dr. Charles Miller – Research Scientist & principal investigator of the Carbon in Arctic Reservoirs Vulnerability Experiment (CARVE) – a five-year NASA-led field campaign studying how climate change is affecting the Arctic’s carbon cycle.
New study warns of major methane releases
The release of methane, once seen as unlikely, is now being raised as a potentially catastrophic threat.
From Nafeez Ahmed of The Guardian:
A new paper [PDF] in the journal Nature argues that the release of a 50 Gigatonne (Gt) methane pulse from thawing Arctic permafrost could destabilise the climate system and trigger costs as high as the value of the entire world’s GDP. The East Siberian Arctic Shelf’s (ESAS) reservoir of methane gas hydrates could be released slowly over 50 years or “catastrophically fast” in a matter of decades – if not even one decade – the researchers said.
Not everyone agrees that the paper’s scenario of a catastrophic and imminent methane release is plausible. Nasa’s Gavin Schmidt has previously argued that the danger of such a methane release is low, whereas scientists like Prof Tim Lenton from Exeter University who specialises in climate tipping points, says the process would take thousands if not tens of thousands of years, let alone a decade.
But do most models underestimate the problem? A new paper in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) projects that the Arctic will be ice free in September by around 2054-58. This, however, departs significantly from empirical observations of the rapid loss of Arctic summer sea ice which is heading for disappearance within two or three years according to Nature co-author and renowned Arctic expert Prof Peter Wadhams, head of the Polar ocean physics group at Cambridge University.
More from the BBC:
The researchers estimate that the climate effects of the release of this gas could cost $60 trillion (£39 trillion), roughly the size of the global economy in 2012.
The impacts are most likely to be felt in developing countries they say.
The research has been published in the journal Nature.
Scientists have had concerns about the impact of rising temperatures on permafrost for many years. Large amounts of methane are concentrated in the frozen Arctic tundra but are also found as semi-solid gas hydrates under the sea.
And back to The Guardian for this from John Vidal:
The Arctic sea ice, which largely melts and reforms each year, is declining at an unprecedented rate. In 2012, it collapsed to under 3.5m sqkm by mid September, just 40% of its usual extent in the 1970s. Because the ice is also losing its thickness, some scientists expect the Arctic ocean to be largely free of summer ice by 2020.
The growing fear is that as the ice retreats, the warming of the sea water will allow offshore permafrost to release ever greater quantities of methane. A giant reservoir of the greenhouse gas, in the form of gas hydrates on the East Siberian Arctic Shelf (ESAS), could be emitted, either slowly over 50 years or catastrophically fast over a shorter time frame, say the researchers.
The ramifications of vanishing ice will also be felt far from the poles, they say because the region is pivotal to the functioning of Earth systems, such as oceans and climate. “The imminent disappearance of the summer sea ice in the Arctic will have enormous implications for both the acceleration of climate change, and the release of methane from off-shore waters which are now able to warm up in the summer,” said Prof Peter Wadhams, head of the Polar ocean physics group at Cambridge University and one of the authors of the paper published in the journal Nature.
And the bottom line is. . .
The massive production of rapidly obsolescing goods to feed the finance-driven dictates of global economic growth carries a high price tag, and the tragedy is that many of those who enjoyed the benefits won’t be the ones to pay the costs, as the carnage is off-loaded on the poor and the generations to come. . .or not to come.