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Earth Science

Numerous Methane Leaks Found On Atlantic Sea Floor 273

sciencehabit writes Researchers have discovered 570 plumes of methane percolating up from the sea floor off the eastern coast of the United States, a surprisingly high number of seeps in a relatively quiescent part of the ocean. The seeps suggest that methane's contribution to climate change has been underestimated in some models. And because most of the seeps lie at depths where small changes in temperature could be releasing the methane, it is possible that climate change itself could be playing a role in turning some of them on.
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Numerous Methane Leaks Found On Atlantic Sea Floor

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  • Feedback loops (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Ralph Wiggam ( 22354 ) on Monday August 25, 2014 @02:16PM (#47749769) Homepage

    Nature usually creates negative feedback loops that contribute to equilibrium. The textbook one is if there is population growth in a prey species, the population of predators will increase to check that growth.

    In this case we have a positive feedback loop. Increases in temperature will cause more methane hydrate to melt, which causes an increase in temperature.

    This is a very not good situation that does not have easy solutions.

  • by starless ( 60879 ) on Monday August 25, 2014 @02:42PM (#47750019)

    Methane is big. A huge greenhouse gas. It knocks the socks of carbon in all ways except that there's not that much of it(yet). It also doesn't "clean up" nearly as nicely after a couple of centuries of forest expansion/ocean calcification.

    Actually, I believe the the lifetime of methane in the atmosphere is a lot less than that of CO2. So, although it's a more "potent" greenhouse gas, the long term effects of CO2 are worse because of CO2's longer lifetime.
    See e.g. this article on the effects of methane compared to CO2. []
    When methane is released chronically, over decades, the concentration in the atmosphere will rise to a new equilibrium value. It won’t keep rising indefinitely, like CO2 would, because methane degrades while CO2 essentially just accumulates. Methane degrades into CO2, in fact...

  • Re:Global Warming? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by blue9steel ( 2758287 ) on Monday August 25, 2014 @02:47PM (#47750069)
    That's one possible interpretation. On the other hand this could be an early sign that the current modest levels of man made global warming are triggering a clathrate gun similar to that which may have caused the Permian-Triassic extinction event. It's fairly common for complex natural systems to have "tipping points" where a slow series of gradual changes suddenly goes parabolic before settling into a new stable dynamic.
  • Re:Feedback loops (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anon-Admin ( 443764 ) on Monday August 25, 2014 @03:31PM (#47750589) Journal

    Hmm, let me take a stab at your points

    1) No other apex predator exists and thrives in as many varied Eco systems as humans. From the arctic to the desert we adapt and survive. Where as other apex predators fail to adapt and go extinct, we as a species adapt and survive. The reason for this is our ability to reason and to build tools.

    2) True, however our ability to reason and build tools allows us to adapt both our selves and the land at a much faster rate than nature. Thus as the land becomes arable we move in and hasten it's conversion.

    3) Governments change, people change them. This has been going on for 8000+ years. Nothing new here.

    4) Even at current climate change prediction we have a couple of hundred years for the changes to take effect. Think of where we were 200 years ago compared to today. In another 200 years there is no telling the things we could discover, build, or learn. Technology moves faster than climate change no matter how you look at it. You may also note that the population growth of the planet has been slowing and is (from memory) dropped to 2.6 kids per family down from 5 kids per family just 50 years ago. At 2 kids per family there is 0 population growth!

  • Re:Global Warming? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by gman003 ( 1693318 ) on Monday August 25, 2014 @04:22PM (#47751105)
    a) What hiatus? The hiatus only appears when you use incomplete data. citation []
    b) Uh, what? I don't even know what you're talking about there.
    c) Plant (and algae) growth is a negative feedback loop on CO2, but it doesn't work on the same timescales. We're dumping centuries worth of CO2 into the atmosphere every year. And we're combining that with deforestation. By the time plants have grown to stabilize the temperature, we'll be stabilized several degrees over our current temperature, and that's assuming any positive feedback loops don't override it (look at the "clathrate gun hypothesis" for an example of what could happen).
  • Re:Global Warming? (Score:1, Interesting)

    by pastafazou ( 648001 ) on Monday August 25, 2014 @04:27PM (#47751167)
    The average global temperature is rising is settled? Uh, no, sorry, it's not settled at all. First of all, we have scarce data for the temperature of the oceans. What little data we have comes from the ARGO global array, and that only measures the top layer of the oceans. The UK Met Office EN3 subsurface ocean temperature data shows a decline in heat from 2003 to 2013. So that means the deep oceans would need to be warming in order to compensate for the surface cooling we've measured. However, we don't have any measurements of deep ocean temperatures, which leaves your claim of global temperature rising to be unfounded.
  • Re:Feedback loops (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Lehk228 ( 705449 ) on Monday August 25, 2014 @07:31PM (#47752593) Journal
    there is little to worry about, the resources problem will be solved when 90%+ of the human population dies after the famine reaches first world countries and WWIII starts.

Today is a good day for information-gathering. Read someone else's mail file.