Sunday, March 11, 2012

Event: The Case for Emergency Geo-Engineering to save the Arctic from Collapse

The Case for Emergency Geo-Engineering to save the Arctic from Collapse

An APPCCG Event:

The Case for Emergency Geo-Engineering to save the Arctic from Collapse
WHEN: Tuesday, 13th March, 2012,  from 1:00 pm to 2:30 pm
WHERE: Committee Room 8, House of Commons, London SW1A 0AA
Please enter by St. Stephen’s Gate, and allow about 15 minutes to pass through security.    
If you would like to attend this meeting, please contact Neha Sethi at the APPCCG Secretariat on or tel: +44 (0) 20 7833 6035.

You are invited to attend this APPCCG event with the Arctic Methane Emergency Group (AMEG), an NGO founded in October 2011 and supported by world renowned scientists. 
AMEG will set before the APPCCG new evidence that shows that because of rising sea and air temperatures the Arctic is in a state of rapid collapse, with a high probability that the Arctic will be completely ice-free at its summer minimum as early as 2013 and having no sea-ice in the Arctic for six months of the year by 2018-20.
At the same time, thawing and release of previously frozen methane previously trapped under the Arctic sea bed and in the surrounding tundra, is also increasing alarmingly, a process that will accelerate as the Arctic sea responds to the loss of sea-ice protection. 
Evidence will be presented of what is actually happening in the Arctic, in regard to the reduction of the ice sheet, the rate of methane release and details of the basic driving mechanisms in the form of warming ocean currents and increasing solar absorption in the region.
The meeting will also focus on the possible ways of halting this process and managing the level of the solar radiation currently reaching the Arctic, and will explore the challenges inherent in applying the technology in one of the most inhospitable regions on Earth.
Panellists will include:
    •    Peter Wadhams, Professor of Ocean Physics, Cambridge
    •    John Nissen, Chairman of AMEG
    •    John Hughes, of AMEG
    •    Stephen Salter, Professor of Engineering Design, Edinburgh
Wadhams is authoring the (dire) IPCC report on Polar Ice due out in July and Stephen Salter is working on a geoengineering funnel for Bill Gates.
The panel discussion will be followed by a question and answer session. 

All Party Parliamentary Climate Change Group (APPCCG)

Please enter by St. Stephen’s Gate, and allow about 15 minutes to pass through security.   

For more about the
Arctic Methane Emergency Group,

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Save the Arctic!

Save The Arctic!

On 24 Feb 2012 seven people including actor Lucy Lawless scaled the 50 meter drill tower on a drillship commissioned by Shell to drill for oil in the Arctic. They occupied the Arctic-bound drillship in port Taranaki, New Zealand, for over 70 hours before being arrested. Below are messages they sent from the rig.
  • Why? 1. The Arctic is in the crosshairs of Climate Change profiteers.  #savethearctic
    by reallucylawless via twitter February 24 at 6:58 AM
  • Why? 2. Because a blowout under Arctic ice will make the Gulf of Mexico spill look like a children's party #savethearctic
    by reallucylawless via twitter February 24 at 7:00 AM
  • Why?3. Because We have the technology and knowledge to change the course of  runaway climate change. We owe it to our kids #savethearctic
    by reallucylawless via twitter February 24 at 7:05 AM
    • Fossil fuels will darken our future. Only renewable energy will enhance it. We owe it to our kids to fight for clean energy!
      by reallucylawless via twitter February 28 at 7:57 AM

Large areas of open ocean starved of oxygen

“The water is getting warmer, and warm water holds substantially less oxygen than cold water . . . Off southern California over the past 22 years we’ve lost about 30% of the oxygen at depths of around 200 to 300 metres,” said Professor Lisa Levin of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in La Jolla, California.

Deep-water temperature gauges off Spitsbergen in the Arctic and in the Southern Ocean near the Antarctic have recorded temperature increases of between 0.03°C and 0.5°C, and as much as 1°C, which is highly significant for a stable environment that does not change at all from one century to the next, she said.

“Those are significant numbers. The warming is more intense at the sea surface but it reaching the deep water,” Professor Levin said.

Above from: Report by Steve Conner in the Independent, February 21, 2012.

Why oxygen depletion is a problem

The above report is particularly relevant in regard to methane hydrates, as illustrated by the text below, which is partly from: Oxygenating the Arctic, by Sam Carana.

When methane is released from hydrates in underwater sediments, much of it can still be oxidized in the water. This would not be the case for large releases of methane, which would cause oxygen depletion, resulting in much of the methane entering the atmosphere. Furthermore, global warming makes the situation worse, as warmer water holds substantially less oxygen.

A two-part study by Berkeley Lab and Los Alamos National Laboratory shows that, as global temperature increases and oceans warm, methane releases from clathrates would over time cause depletion of oxygen, nutrients, and trace metals needed by methane-eating microbes, resulting in ever more methane escaping into the air unchanged, to further accelerate climate change.

In many ways, global warming sets the scene for catastrophic releases of methane in the Arctic. To avoid such scenarios, or even more worrying scenarios in the Arctic, it may be helpful to artificially add oxygen to the water. This has been done before, e.g. in lakes in Finland.

Oxygenating the Arctic

On the one hand, oxygenating Arctic waters seems beneficial, as this could enhance oxidation of methane in the water. Also, oxygen bubbles could form an insulating layer in between an ice-cap and warming water underneath the cap. Thirdly, bubbles could brighten the water, changing albedo and reflect more sunlight back into space. Where oxygen enters the atmosphere, this may help with the formation of hydroxyl and subsequent oxidation of atmospheric methane.

On the other hand, though, some processes could be counter-productive. As an example, bubbles could disturb a hydrate and accelerate release of methane. Rising bubbles could take more methane along upwards than they help oxidize. Experience in Finland shows that adding oxygen could also increase concentrations of nitrous oxide, a greenhouse gas with tremendous global warming potential. Also, producing oxygen locally through electrolysis could result in the release of hydrogen that could bind with oxygen or result in hydroxyl and stratospheric ozone depletion.

From: Nutrient reductions through engineering approaches, 2009
Tests are therefore recommended, in order to research what kind of impacts and side-effects can be expected. Proposals have been around for years to ventilate bottom waters by stimulating mixing with waters from mid- or upper-levels, as depicted in the above image from a study by Daniel Conley, or by adding air to the waters locally.

Transporting oxygen to the Arctic

Offshore Wind Turbines on Floating Bases
Wind turbines on
floating bases
Producing large amounts of oxygen from water locally may result in large amounts of surplus hydrogen, for which there is may not be enough local demand to make this process economic. This wouldn't be such a problem when producing the oxygen at lower latitudes. Wind turbines on bases, floating offshore the coast of, say, California, New York or the U.K., could supply electricity for use on land during the day, while at night powering electrolysis of seawater (possibly preceded by distillation), to produce oxygen and hydrogen.

The hydrogen could then be used to power transportation, in particular shipping, since the oxygen would be transported by ship, either liquefied or as compressed gas, to the Arctic. On arrival, a hose could be lowered from the ship into the water to release oxygen, or - in another application - a balloon could be launched, raising a hose to the desired height, and oxygen could be pumped up the hose for release into the atmosphere, in efforts to oxidize methane in the atmosphere.

Space Hose
Space Hose
If wanted, the same hose could also be used to release aerosols into the atmosphere, in further efforts to keep the Arctic from overheating. Finally, such hoses could carry devices to monitor composition of water and atmosphere, temperatures, currents and winds at various altitudes, etc.

Funding for the project could be provided in part by the electricity sold by the offshore turbines. To further fund the project, fees could be imposed on international shipping and aviation, e.g. on departures from U.S. seaports or airports, or on bunker fuel and jet fuel taken on board such ships or airplanes. The revenues of these fees could be used partly to fund the Arctic oxygenation project, and partly to fund rebates on hydrogen that is produced at the floating bases and sold to ships anchoring there. Such feebates could also satisfy calls by the European Union for airlines to join in with action on climate change.

Alternatively, such feebates could be imposed on international shipping only. Other types of feebates could then be imposed on international aviation, e.g. to fund air capture of carbon dioxide and the production of biofuel either in algae bags or as a result of pyrolysis of organic waste. More generally, feebates are the most effective way to facilitate the shift towards a sustainable economy.

Another approach: diatoms

Another approach is suggested by who propose to add iron and other trace metals/micro nutrients to the water in order to stimulate growth of a specific type of phytoplankton called diatom algae, which through photosynthesis absorb carbon dioxide in the water and add oxygen. The oxygen is then used by methanotroph bacteria to oxidize methane. 

The image below pictures a range of Arctic geoengineering methods that could be used as part of a comprehensive plan of action to deal with climate change. 

(click on image to enlarge)

Japan starts drilling methane hydrate

The Japanese vessel Chikyu started drilling in waters about 1000 meters deep, some 70 to 80 kilometers off the Japanese coast in February 2012. The vessel will dig about 260 meters or more below the seabed to reach the methane hydrate.

The drilling is part of a two-year program commissioned by the Japanese Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry for testing and data collection. Continuous production of methane is planned over several weeks in January to March 2013.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012


Welcome to the Methane Hydrates blog. If you have any questions, feel invited to post a comment. Selected questions will be included in the Frequently Asked Questions page (see menu above).