Tuesday 29 March 2016

How fast are we putting greenhouse gas into the atmosphere?

We are now putting carbon into the atmosphere at a rate unprecedented since at least the age of the
dinosaurs, scientists say.

Researchers looked at ocean sediments laid down during the  Palaeocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum - a dramatic warming event which took place around 56 million years ago.

The amount of CO2 going into the air at its onset was four billion tonnes a year at most. The influence of humans on the amount of carbon being pumped into the air is far greater than this. We are pushing C02 and other greenhouse gases such as methane (CH4) into the air ten times as fast as the PETM.

During this time the Earth's temperature rose about 5 degrees in short time, geologically speaking. The C02 concentration was thought to reach over 1000ppm, compared to 400ppm today (and only 300ppm 50 years ago).

It could have been caused by high levels of volcanic activity, spewing out C02, or even the release of large amounts of Methyl Clathrates which are normally locked in the cold ocean floor, especially near the poles, but which are released as the sea warms up. Methane clathrate (CH4·5.75H2O) or (4CH4·23H2O), also called methane hydrate, hydromethane, methane ice, fire ice, natural gas hydrate, or gas hydrate, is a solid clathrate compound (more specifically, a clathrate hydrate) in which a large amount of methane is trapped within a crystal structure of water, forming a solid similar to ice. Originally it was thought to occur only in the outer regions of the Solar System, where temperatures are low and water ice is common  However, large deposits of methane clathrate have been found under sediments on the ocean floors of the Earth. Its been calculated that there are around  1000 Giga Tons  of methyl clathrate deposits in the East Siberian Arctic shelf alone. (That should do it).

 Today this release is happening all the time and could cause catastrophic amounts of methane to be released into the atmosphere. methane traps heat 20 times better than C02. Huge quantities of methane are erupting from the seafloor of the East Siberian Sea and entering the atmosphere over the Arctic Ocean.

Back in the Palaeocene it was thought that between 0.6 and 1.1 billion tons of carbon was entering the atmosphere in one form or another per year.

At present, human emissions of CO2 are approaching 40 billion tonnes a year.

A lot of people in power need to pull their heads out of the sand and come out of denial before we all
suffer the results of runaway global warming.