Aug 18 2009
Why we allow journalism majors to communicate science to the general public is beyond me. They don’t even know when some fool with a PhD or two is making completely dumb claims – which tends to be the case with the global warming mythology. In this case I think the scientists might have been trying to be balanced, but when you scream ‘global warming’ the liberal media swoons into a faint.
Here is the BBC’s strange story of gas bubbles from the ocean floor:
Scientists say they have evidence that the powerful greenhouse gas methane is escaping from the Arctic sea bed.
Actually, this happens all the time and has for millions of years. Sadly, it takes a while for the reporting to get to the point that the methane gas is not actually making its way into the atmosphere, but that would make this such a non-story. It gets worse:
Researchers say this could be evidence of a predicted positive feedback effect of climate change.
As temperatures rise, the sea bed grows warmer and frozen water crystals in the sediment break down, allowing methane trapped inside them to escape.
OK everyone, let’s remember where we are – the ARCTIC, because this is important. It’s really cold in the Arctic, especially in the deep waters.
The gas is normally trapped as “methane hydrate” in sediment under the ocean floor.
“Methane hydrate” is an ice-like substance composed of water and methane which is stable under conditions of high pressure and low temperature.
As temperatures rise, the hydrate breaks down. So this new evidence shows that methane is stable at water depths greater than 400m off Spitsbergen.
Trust me when I note that pressure and temperature are not the only factors – by far – which dictate when the methane can be released. The make up of the sea floor is also important. If it is not stable or strong then the methane can be released in one area and not another under the same temps and pressures. There is also the chemical make up of the water, which varies from region to region and across depths. But wait, it gets even worse:
However data collected over 30 years shows it was then stable at water depths as shallow as 360m.
Sounds like they have something? No – let me skip ahead to show how little we know about this phenomena , in their own words:
Professor Minshull said: “Our survey was designed to work out how much methane might be released by future ocean warming; we did not expect to discover such strong evidence that this process has already started.”
“We were slightly surprised that if there was so much methane rising why no one had seen it before. But I think the reason is that you have to be rather dedicated to spot it because these plumes are only perhaps 50m to 100m across.”
“The device we were using is only switched on during biological cruises. It’s not normally used on geophysical or oceanographic cruises like ours. And of course you’ve got to monitor it 24 hours a day. In fact, we only spotted the phenomenon half way through our cruise. We decided to go back and take a closer look.”
They have no idea when these plumes occur, how often and under what conditions. They tripped over one and called it global warming. And the 30 years of data may clearly did not use this technique, so we are comparing to completely different data sets.
So here is the part that makes me shake may head in embarrassment:
Temperature records show that this area of the ocean has warmed by 1C during the same period.
Any oceanographer worth his/her salt is laughing their heads off at this ignorant statement. First off, the only temperature records we have with any history are sea SURFACE temperatures. Even the most modern sensors only drop down a few meters down to get a snapshot of the upper layer of water.
But ocean water follows Bernoulli flows, where bands of different temps (and salinity) flow like rivers on top of each other, not mixing much at all. In many regions the sea surface layer and sea bottom layers are literally worlds detached with no connection. Conflating sea surface warming with deep sea temperature levels belies a cheap PhD.
If you have ever been to the beach or did scuba diving or snorkeling you know the water is warmest near the beach (where it is shallow) or near the surface, and cools rapidly with depth. 400 meters is over 1300 feet, or just under a quarter of a mile down. The sea surface temperature readings (of a yet to be proven 1Â°C increase) has no bearing on the icy water at the bottom of the water column.
In fact, we would have to know WHERE the water at the sea floor was coming from to know what other causes there may be for the methane gas release, other than temperature. If that region happens to be fed by land runoff, then it could be metals or sediments changing the chemical make up of the water causing the methane release. Something the scientists tried to explain to the journalism major:
However methane is already released from ocean floor hydrates at higher temperatures and lower pressures – so the team also suggest that some methane release may have been going on in this area since the last ice age.
Too bad this one little note, buried in the middle, makes all the rest of the story simply a poorly supported and amateurish theory – at best.
If for that region of the Norwegian coast, given the composition of the sea floor and the source of the deepest water layers, it is ‘normal’ for methane to be released in this way then there is no feedback loop, no end of the world.
BTW, since the methane gas is not getting into the atmosphere, there is no adding to the supposed green house gases:
The team found that most of the methane is being dissolved into the seawater and did not detect evidence of the gas breaking the surface of the ocean and getting into the atmosphere.
False alarm folks, the Earth is just passing a little gas. Go back to building your carbon footprints.