This could be bad. For years I’ve been hearing about the nightmare scenario of global ocean warming rising to a level that triggers the release of methane hydrates locked up deep in the ocean, which then lead to a major accumulation of greenhouse gases. It basically tips over the rate of warming from one regime into another, faster period of heating, very abruptly.
Well, guess what…
Vast methane plumes have been discovered boiling up from the seafloor of the Arctic ocean on the continental slope of the Laptev Sea by a dream team of international scientists. Over the last decade a warming tongue of Atlantic ocean water has been flowing along the Siberian Arctic ocean’s continental slope destabilizing methane ice, hypothesize the team of Swedish, Russian and American scientists. The research team will take a series of measurements across the Siberian seas to attempt to understand and quantify the methane release and predict the effect of this powerful greenhouse gas on global and Arctic warming. Because the Siberian Arctic contains vast stores of methane ices and organic carbon that may be perturbed by the warming waters and Arctic climate, Arctic ocean and Siberian sea methane release could accelerate and intensify Arctic and global warming.
It’s like humans are blithely giving the little nudges that start an avalanche, and then afterwards we’ll look at each other and say “I didn’t do it, it was deep ocean methane!” Or rather, we’ll try to say that while struggling to keep from drowning or cooking.