Monday, December 12, 2016

Seafloor Methane

Methane levels over the Arctic Ocean are higher than elsewhere on Earth. As the animation below shows, methane levels were as high as 2436 parts per billion (ppb) on the afternoon of December 5, 2016, with most methane rising up from the water, in particular over the Arctic Ocean.

Rise in the atmosphere of methane on December 5, 2016 (MetOp 1 pm), from 1000 mb, i.e. close to
sea level, up to a pressure of 586 mb, which corresponds with an altitude of 3833 m.

Methane levels over the Arctic Ocean have been high for more than a month. The video below, with a soundtrack by Daniel Kieve, shows methane levels from October 26, 2016 to November 25, 2016.


These high methane levels come at a time when there's hardly any sunlight reaching the Arctic, which pretty much rules out the possibility that algae blooms or other biological sources were causing these high methane levels. Instead, these high methane levels appear to be the result of methane eruptions from the seafloor of the Arctic Ocean, caused by warming water of the oceans.

Indeed, large quantities of methane appear to be erupting from seafloor of the Arctic Ocean and, as this methane rises in the atmosphere, it moves closer to the Equator, resulting in higher methane levels there as well. Above image further illustrates that seafloor methane appears to be pushing up mean global methane level at higher altitudes.

The image below shows the temperature rise of the oceans. Temperatures are rising particularly rapidly on the Northern Hemisphere.

[ Ocean warming, from earlier post ]
The huge amounts of energy entering the oceans translate into higher temperatures of the water and of the air over the water, as well as higher waves and stronger winds. Much of that heat is carried by the Coriolis force along the Gulf Stream from the coast of North America via the North Atlantic into the Arctic Ocean.

As the image on the right shows, sea surface temperatures near Svalbard (green circle) were as high as 14.1°C / 57.3°F on December 6, 2016, 12.1°C / 21.7°F warmer than in 1981-2011.

The rise in ocean heat is threatening to cause ever larger eruptions of methane from the seafloor.

As described at the Extinction page, methane eruptions from the seafloor could well cause a 1.1°C temperature rise over the next ten years, and in combination with other elements, this is threatening to cause global temperature to rise 10°C or 18°F by 2026.

The situation is dire and calls for comprehensive and effective action as described in the Climate Plan.


• A pdf of the extinction page and an introduction to the Climate Plan can be downloaded from

 Climate Plan



 Old Mother Nature, by Daniel Kieve