Abrupt Methane Release 2011-2013

The result of the following timeline is the formation of the Climate and Clean Air Coalition (CCAC). See: http://www.unep.org/ccac/
The following tracks the case for a major Arctic Methane release and consequent US and global action to counter the event and its impact on global climate change.
The most recent information is at the bottom.

August 18-19, 2011:

The HIPPO polar research flights detected heightened levels of methane gas throughout the Arctic Ocean. Wofsy, the lead investigator commented:

"Scientists were surprised to find strong evidence that ocean surfaces laid bare by melting ice are emitting methane at a "significant" rate likely to have "global impact," Wofsy said.

"It confirms a concern that’s been raised about the removal of ice from the arctic." Wofsy said.

"It does look to be significant, and that’s a new result there."

The process by which the open ocean surface is emitting methane, a more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide, is uncertain, Wofsy said, adding that it likely is not from frozen masses of methane known to be in deep oceans, nor from methane being exhaled from newly thawed tundra...."

"It had not been forecast that we would see evidence of methane coming from the deep ocean regions," Wofsy said. "Maybe we should’ve known, but that was a surprise." Source: Global warming effect seen in pole-to-pole data-gathering flights 09/07/11

Sept 2, 2011:

The Russian ship Academic Lavrentiev sailed from Vladivostock on an unexpected mission to observe methane emission in the ESAS. Semelitov, the expedition leader said:

"This expedition was organized on a short notice by the Russian Fund of Fundamental Research and the U.S. National Science Foundation following the discovery of a dramatic increase in the leakage of methane gas from the seabed in the eastern part of the Arctic, said Professor Igor Semiletov, the head of the expedition.

....The 45-day expedition will focus on the sea shelf of the Laptev Sea, the East Siberian Sea and the Russian part of the Chukotsk Sea, where 90% of underwater permafrost is located.

"We assume that the leakage of methane results from the degradation of underwater permafrost...A massive release of such a powerful greenhouse gas may accelerate global warming," Semiletov said. Source: RIA Novosti, September 2, 2011.

September 26, 2011:

Initial expedition report:

VLADIVOSTOK, September 26, 2011 (Itar-Tass) — A Russo-US expedition which visited
the eastern sector of the Arctic seas found powerful methane emissions in the northern
sector of the Laptev and Bering seas, expedition Chief Igor Semiletov, who represents the Far Eastern Institute of Ocean studies under the Russian Academy of Sciences and University of Alaska Fairbanks, told Itar-Tass by telephone from board the Akdemik Lavrentyev research ship.

"Methane torches" have been running up from the depth of the ocean with methane
emitted into the air, Semiletov said. Source: Itar Tass.

Sept 28, 2011:

Further details from the expedition:

"The participants of an international expedition have fixed hundreds of torches-fountains of outgoing gas. This only a small part of what is hidden in permafrost, scientists say. On the bottom of the ocean methane is stored in hydrates - solid units, which began to fail at higher temperature emitting gas." Source: Moscow Times.

October 18, 2011:

Further details on the methane release:

"According to Semiletov, the scientists detected the most powerful methane discharges in the north of the Laptev Sea. Although earlier the scientists detected only several eruptions of gas, this time they found thousands of them using state-of-the-art equipment." Source: RIA Novosti

December 13, 2011:

AGU presentation by Semelitov and Shakhova. Semelitov comments in the press:

"In an exclusive interview with The Independent, Igor Semiletov, of the Far Eastern branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences, said that he has never before witnessed the scale and force of the methane being released from beneath the Arctic seabed.

"Earlier we found torch-like structures like this but they were only tens of metres in diameter. This is the first time that we've found continuous, powerful and impressive seeping structures, more than 1,000 metres in diameter. It's amazing," Dr Semiletov said.

"I was most impressed by the sheer scale and high density of the plumes. Over a relatively small area we found more than 100, but over a wider area there should be thousands of them."

"In a very small area, less than 10,000 square miles, we have counted more than 100 fountains, or torch-like structures, bubbling through the water column and injected directly into the atmosphere from the seabed," Dr Semiletov said. "We carried out checks at about 115 stationary points and discovered methane fields of a fantastic scale – I think on a scale not seen before. Some plumes were a kilometre or more wide and the emissions went directly into the atmosphere – the concentration was a hundred times higher than normal."

Source: http://www.independent.co.uk/environment/climate-change/shock-as-retreat-of-arctic-sea-ice-releases-deadly-greenhouse-gas-6276134.html

Sept 2011-Jan 2012:

Methane release documented by satellite data:

The Giovanni/AIRS runs for September 2011 to February 2012 reveal unprecedented sustained methane release in the upper Arctic and Siberian atmosphere.

Despite all the press comments debating the methane release, its size and significance, what follows in US foreign policy changes in regard to climate is telling:

February 15, 2012:

"Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton plans to announce the initiative at the State Department on Thursday accompanied by officials from Bangladesh, Canada, Ghana, Mexico, Sweden and the United Nations Environment Program.

The plan will address short-lived pollutants like soot (also referred to as black carbon), methane and hydrofluorocarbons that have an outsize influence on global warming, accounting for 30 to 40 percent of global warming."

If adopted globally, measures to reduce soot and methane emissions could slow global warming by about a half a degree Celsius by 2030.

April, 2012:

The initiative membership expanded to 13 with the enrollment of Colombia, Japan, Nigeria, Norway and the European Commission along with the World Bank.

May 22, 2012:

All the G8 nations join the soot/methane initiative:

"Over the weekend, the remaining members of the G8 who are not yet part of the Coalition-Germany, France, Italy, Russia and the United Kingdom - agreed to join on and expressed their support for its aims and initiatives via the Camp David Declaration. The Declaration states:

"We, the Leaders of the Group of Eight, met at Camp David on May 18 and 19, 2012 to address major global economic and political challenges ... Recognizing the impact of short-lived climate pollutants on near-term climate change, agricultural productivity, and human health, we support, as a means of promoting increased ambition and complementary to other CO2 and GHG emission reduction efforts, comprehensive actions to reduce these pollutants, which, according to UNEP and others, account for over thirty percent of near-term global warming as well as 2 million premature deaths a year. Therefore, we agree to join the Climate and Clean Air Coalition to Reduce Short-lived Climate Pollutants." Source: http://allafrica.com/stories/201205221100.html

June 2, 2012:

Hilliary Clinton announces Norway's joining the coalition. In her Q&A she says,

"SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I think it is always important to have firsthand experience, if possible. I’ve had the opportunity to visit Svalbard when I was a United States senator. Last year, the Arctic Council met in Nuuk, Greenland. And then of course, today, we were able to go out on a research vessel and hear from experts about what is happening in the Arctic, and in fact, that many of the predications about warming in the Arctic are being surpassed by the actual data. That was a – not necessarily a surprising but sobering fact to be told."

July 24, 2012:

Seven more nations join the anti-soot/methane coalition:

"At a meeting in Paris, the Clean Air and Climate Coalition, launched by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in February, said Britain, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Italy and Jordan were its latest members. They joined the United States, Bangladesh, Canada, Colombia, the European Commission, Ghana, Japan, Mexico, Nigeria, Norway, Sweden, the World Bank, the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and the Stockholm Environment Institute -- bringing to 21 the number of members of the voluntary coalition.

"The idea is to come together around a network to scale up actions that could reduce these short-lived pollutants in the near term," United States deputy special envoy for climate change Jonathan Pershing told journalists.

"If we are able to do this we can really buy time in the context of the global problem to combat climate change -- time that we need desperately as the rate of emissions continue to rise globally."

Source: http://phys.org/news/2012-07-countries-anti-soot-methane-campaign.html#jCp

August 7, 2012

Scientists to Search for Methane Fields in Okhotsk Sea

VLADIVOSTOK, August 7 (RIA Novosti)

Tags: methane, Anatoly Obzhirov, Sea of Okhotsk

A group of scientists from Russia, Japan and South Korea will depart on Tuesday from Vladivostok to the Sea of Okhotsk in search of methane deposits, head of the expedition Anatoly Obzhirov said.

“The group of Russian scientists will depart on board the Academician Lavrentyev research ship,” Obzhirov said. “They will be joined later by eight Japanese and two S. Korean experts in the port of Korsakov on the Island of Sakhalin.”

The expedition will explore the fields of underwater permafrost, which traps methane, and study methane emissions in the water and the atmosphere.


September 3, 2012

Methane Research Okhotsk and Sea of Japan

"9/3/12 In the Okhotsk and Japan Seas discovery of large deposits of gas hydrates . Scientists from the international expedition discovered two new deposits of gas hydrates in the Sea of Okhotsk and the Sea of Japan, and found the highest in the world of underwater stream of bubbles of methane, told the expedition leader, head of the department of Geology and Geophysics of the Pacific Oceanological Institute, Far Eastern Branch (POI), RAS, Doctor of Geological and Mineralogical Sciences Anatoly Obzhirov.

"The whole province of gas hydrates found in Tatar Strait 43 are found immediately release methane. Prior to that, in these areas the search for oil and gas were just offshore. Our discovery - a possible indicator of oil and gas deposits on the side of the strait. Next year, we plan to examine in detail and this area, "- said Obzhirov.


September 15, 2012

Methane emissions discovered in Arctic Ocean

Sep 15, 2012 13:34 Moscow Time

Russian scientists have discovered spots in the Arctic Ocean where mass emissions of methane can be observed.

According to the press-service of the expedition aboard The Viktor Buinitsky research vessel, the diameter of some of the ‘methane fields’ found in the northern part of the Laptev Sea exceeds 1 kilometre.


September 17, 2012

Methane emissions in Arctic cause climate change catastrophic effect, expert says

Sept 17, 2012 18:17 Moscow Time

Over 200 areas of mass emission of methane can be observed in the Arctic Ocean discovered recently by the Russian expedition onboard Viktor Buinitsky research vessel. As the Arctic regions containing methane get wormer more of this greenhouse gas is released into atmosphere meaning higher temperatures. Scientists worry that this increased warming will result in methane being released more rapidly making it into a snowball effect which will rapidly increase the global climate change.


September 18, 2012

Methane emission in the Arctic – a possible key to the global warming

Russian scientists have discovered more than 200 sources of methane emissions in the Arctic, particularly in the north of the Laptev Sea. Two of the methane fields exceed 1 kilometer in diameter, said Igor Semiletov, expedition head aboard the Viktor Buinitsky research vessel. Methane emissions in the Arctic have been observed before and are explained by bacterial activity. Head of the ecology department at Moscow State University, Dmitry Zamolodchikov, spoke about the possible consequences in an exclusive interview with the Voice of Russia.




I would suggest there is a direct link between what HIPPO, the Russian expedition findings on methane release, and the US intiative on methane.

Unfortunately, there may also be a link with the speech by Todd Stern, US Special Envoy for Climate Change, at the August 2, 2012 commencement at Dartmouth College about the US rejecting the generally understood 2C cap on global temperature change linked to warming mitigation goals.



Just something to ponder - as we wait to see what methane emissions are like this 2012-2013 winter in the Arctic Ocean.