Potential hazard of melting methane clathrates


The IPCC Fifth Assessment, Observations: Ocean,Chapter 3,  has no paragraphs dedicated to collapsing “methane hydrates”.  Neither are they mentioned in the Executive Summary that I can find:



Melting methane clathrates is a time bomb ticking away. I suggest that most climate scientists are not willing to reveal the situation because of the lack of overwhelming hard data and the strong voices of subsidised climate change deniers.



‘We’re F’d’: Methane Plumes Seep From Frozen Ocean Floors

By Brian Stallard

Aug 05, 2014




“ An increased concentration of methane release, Gustafsson suspects, may be coming from collapsing “methane hydrates” – pockets of the gas that were once trapped in frozen water on the ocean floor.”



See Also:


Worrisome Arctic Ocean Methane Leaks

Air Date: Week of December 6, 2013




Researchers say Arctic Ocean leaking methane at an alarming rate


Fairbanks Daily News-Miner November 30, 2013


“Past studies in Alaska and other circumpolar regions have stated that the boreal forests covering much of the world’s Arctic and sub-Arctic dry land contain more than 30 percent of the world’s stored carbon. This carbon is protected from atmospheric release in large part by the permafrost layer.

The submerged East Siberian Arctic Shelf contains much of the same stored carbon as the dry-land tundra just to its south but it also contains at least 17 teragrams of methane, the study states. A teragram is equal to 1 million tons.”




“Methane contained in arctic tundra, trapped within the frozen solid structure of the hydrate, is

a more serious issue. Should temperatures rise, the methane hydrate will melt, releasing methane

gas to the atmosphere. There is concern that, if rising global temperatures due to anthropogenic

climate change cause the arctic permafrost to melt, massive quantities of methane would be

released into the atmosphere, causing a catastrophic run-away greenhouse effect beyond

even the upper 5.8ºC estimate postulated by the IPCC. Such a process is believed to have occurred

in the Palaeocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum,30 some 55 million years ago, when average global

temperatures increased by 5ºC and which lasted for 150,000 years.”




The Clathrate ‘Smoking Gun’


“The possibility of violent methane degassing (or “burping”) has been called the clathrate gun hypothesis. There is a suggestion that the ocean’s bottom waters couldn’t warm up to 8°C. If so, that would certainly set off massive clathrate destabilization. This is what turns the clathrates into a ticking time bomb.


These hydrates are already being released. Satellite photos show massive chimneys of methane bubbling off the ocean floor. They are subterranean versions of the gas field fires we saw during the first Gulf War in Kuwait.


Historically there are spikes in the methane record that may be explained by the violent degassing of clathrates. Some think that the Eocene hothouse period was caused by runaway global warming from clathrates released from the oceans.”