Saturday, September 13, 2014

Climate Change Monitoring

Climate Change Monitoring: Latest News

Greenhouse gases hit alarming levels, says UN | 10th September 2014
Surging carbon dioxide levels boosted greenhouse gases in the atmosphere to a new high in 2013, amid worrying signs that absorption by land and sea is waning, the UN warned today. "An alarm bell is ringing," Michel Jarraud, head of the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO), told reporters in Geneva.
Global warming makes firefighting more dangerous | 07th September 2014
As former Montana smokejumpers we are increasingly alarmed by the severity, size, and expense of wildfires. The weather this year in Montana might give false hope to those who think weather and climate are the same. But climate is about trends and scientists say that those trends are proving what our guts have told us for a long time: Climate change is an increasing problem for firefighters who are facing increasing risks as a result. Since the 1980s, Montana's wildfire season increased by two months while average global temperatures have steadily trended upward. Climate researcher Steve Running has summarized the data this way: "Since 1986, longer, warmer summers have resulted in a fourfold increase of major wildfires and a sixfold increase in the area of forest burned, compared to the period from 1970 to 1986."
As seas rise, a slow-motion disaster gnaws at US shores | 05th September 2014
Chincoteague is the gateway to a national wildlife refuge blessed with a stunning mile-long beach - a major tourist draw and source of big business for the community. But the beach has been disappearing at an average rate of 10 to 22 feet a year, as a warming planet and other forces lift sea levels. The access road and parking lot have been rebuilt five times in the past decade because of coastal flooding, at a total cost of $3 million.
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News of Climate Change

Hundreds of Methane Plumes Erupting Along East Coast
25th August 2014 | Live Science
n an unexpected discovery, hundreds of gas plumes bubbling up from the seafloor were spotted during a sweeping survey of the U.S. Atlantic Coast. Even though ocean explorers have yet to test the gas, the bubbles are almost certainly methane, researchers report today (Aug. 24) in the journal Nature Geoscience.

We don't know of any explanation that fits as well as methane," said lead study author Adam Skarke, a geologist at Mississippi State University in Mississippi State.

Surprising seeps

Between North Carolina's Cape Hatteras and Massachusetts' Georges Bank, 570 methane seeps cluster in about eight regions, according to sonar and video gathered by the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration ship Okeanos Explorer between 2011 and 2013. The vast majority of the seeps dot the continental slope break, where the seafloor topography swoops down toward the Atlantic Ocean basin. The Okeanos Explorer used sound waves to detect the methane bubbles and map the seafloor. The technique, called multibeam sonar, calculates the time and distance it takes for sound waves to travel from the ship to the seafloor and back. The sonar can also detect the density contrast between gas bubbles and seawater.���� Huge canyons etched in the shallow continental shelf also hide bubble plumes, as well as diverse ecosystems that are based on methane-loving bacteria. In 2013, researchers explored a handful of these seeps with Jason, a remotely operated vehicle, finding them teeming with crabs, fish and mussel beds. In Norfolk canyon off the coast of Virginia, researchers from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington discovered the largest methane seep ever found in the Atlantic Ocean, and possibly all the world's oceans. Most of the methane seeps are in water less than 1,640 feet (500 meters) deep. Most of these shallow methane seeps seem to arise from microbes blurping out methane, the researchers said. The researchers did find some deeper methane vents, at which the ROV Jason glimpsed patches of methane hydrate. This is the icy mix of methane and water that appears when deep ocean pressures and cold temperatures force methane to solidify. Any type of methane gas can form hydrates. While methane vents are common around the world, only three natural gas seeps - where methane escapes from seafloor sediments - had been found off the East Coast before 2012. "It was a surprise to find these features," Skarke said. "It was unexpected because many of the common things associated with methane gas do not exist on the Atlantic margin."

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