The Ocean's Methane Eaters Are Slow Growers
By Jan Matthews * Mindful Things * Oct. 20, 2014
The new bad boy on the block
By James Mitchell Crow for Cosmos
Nov. 11, 2013 - As the Arctic warms, the blanket of sea ice is melting. Methane made by microbes or leaking from deeper natural gas deposits, accumulating and forming clathrates there since the last ice age, is beginning to bubble out.
In 2010, Natalia Shakhova and colleagues at the International Arctic Research Center in Fairbanks, Alaska, predicted 50 gigatonnes of methane could be released from the East Siberian Shelf in the next 50 years, either as a steady leak or a dramatic belch over just a year or two. A 50 gigatonne methane belch is equivalent to around 25 times the entire world’s current annual greenhouse gas emissions – an event researchers think could bring us closer to the date at which global temperature rise exceeds the two degree threshold beyond which dangerous climate changes take effect. Until recently the best we could do was worry about the problem. Now scientists are putting a price on it and at least trying to think up solutions to nibble at the edges,
“I’ve only ever seen one paper that looks a little bit hopeful for capturing this methane,” University of Cambridge ocean physicist Peter Wadhams says. The proposal is to drill down under the clathrate layer in the seabed and draw out the methane from below, so that the gas released by melting clathrates might diffuse downward into the collecting pipe rather than upward into the atmosphere. “It might be an answer, but this needs pursuing very quickly.” Excerpted from full story on Cosmos.
Deep-Ocean Carbon Sinks: dark ocean microorganisms
Scientists link frozen spring to dramatic Arctic sea ice loss
Guardian, March 25, 2013 - Climate scientists have linked the massive snowstorms and bitter spring weather now being experienced across Britain and large parts of Europe and North America to the dramatic loss of Arctic sea ice.
Both the extent and the volume of the sea ice that forms and melts each year in the Arctic Ocean fell to an historic low last autumn, and satellite records published on Monday by the National Snow and Ice Data Centre (NSIDC) in Boulder, Colorado, show the ice extent is close to the minimum recorded for this time of year. "The sea ice is going rapidly. It's 80% less than it was just 30 years ago. There has been a dramatic loss. This is a symptom of global warming and it contributes to enhanced warming of the Arctic," said Jennifer Francis, research professor with the Rutgers Institute of Coastal and Marine Science. Read more.
Global Tipping Point Not Backed by Science
Newswise, Feb. 28, 2013 - A group of international ecological scientists led by the University of Adelaide have rejected a doomsday-like scenario of sudden, irreversible change to the Earth’s ecology.In a paper published today in the journal Trends in Ecology and Evolution, the scientists from Australia, US and UK argue that global-scale ecological tipping points are unlikely and that ecological change over large areas seem to follow a more gradual, smooth pattern. A planetary tipping point, the authors suggest, could theoretically occur if ecosystems across Earth respond in similar ways to the same human pressures, or if there are strong connections between continents that allow for rapid diffusion of impacts across the planet. “These criteria, however, are very unlikely to be met in the real world,” says Barry Brook, director of Climate Science at the University of Adelaide. “First, ecosystems on different continents are not strongly connected. Second, the responses of ecosystems to human pressures like climate change or land-use change depend on local circumstances and will therefore differ between localities." Link to full story.
“Earthquake lights are a real phenomenon—they’re not UFOs, They can be scientifically explained.”
Whales as ecosystem engineers - Eureka Alert, July 3, 2014
Managing specialized microbes to clean stubborn chemicals from the environment - Arizona State University’s Biodesign Institute, June 23, 2014
High Levels of Molecular Chlorine Found in Arctic Atmosphere - Newswise, Jan. 12, 2014
Paper Predicts a Future Without Carnivores Would Be Truly Scary - Newswise, Jan. 9, 2014
Dolphins gain unprecedented protection in India
Deutsche Welle, May 24, 2013 - India has officially recognized dolphins as non-human persons, whose rights to life and liberty must be respected. Dolphin parks that were being built across the country will instead be shut down. Full story
Bottlenose dolphins can use learned vocal labels to address each other
PNAS, June 19, 2013 - Here, we show that wild bottlenose dolphins respond to hearing a copy of their own signature whistle by calling back. Animals did not respond to whistles that were not their own signature. Full story