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Published On: Fri, May 19th, 2017

Scientists baffled by new study from Arctic on CO2, methane, negates warming predictions, has ‘net cooling effect on climate’

In a new article, scientists appear to be “surprised” by their finding that the Arctic Ocean absorption of carbon dioxide ” more than offset the potential warming effect of the methane emissions.”

According to a study by the USGS Gas Hydrates Project, in collaborators in Germany and Norway, the ocean waters near the surface of the Arctic Ocean absorbed 2,000 times more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere than the amount of methane that escaped into the atmosphere from the same waters.

“If what we observed near Svalbard occurs more broadly at similar locations around the world, it could mean that methane seeps have a net cooling effect on climate, not a warming effect as we previously thought,” said USGS biogeochemist John Pohlman, who is the paper’s lead author. “We are looking forward to testing the hypothesis that shallow-water methane seeps are net greenhouse gas sinks in other locations.”

photo/ Darwin Laganzon

Let’s review that again: “it could mean that methane seeps have a net cooling effect on climate, not a warming effect as we previously thought.”

During the study, scientists continuously measured the concentrations of methane and carbon dioxide in near-surface waters and in the air just above the ocean surface. The measurements were taken over methane seeps fields at water depths ranging from 260 to 8530 feet (80 to 2600 meters).

Analysis of the data confirmed that methane was entering the atmosphere above the shallowest (water depth of 260-295 feet or 80-90 meters) Svalbard margin seeps.

However, the data also showed that significant amounts of carbon dioxide were being absorbed by the waters near the ocean surface, and that the cooling effect resulting from carbon dioxide uptake is up to 230 times greater than the warming effect expected from the methane emitted.

Jurgen Mienert, the director of the Centre for Arctic Gas Hydrate, Environment and Climate (CAGE) at the University of Tromso, Norway, said, “At CAGE, we are fortunate to have access to expertise, equipment, and a ship platform that allow us to launch sustained research focused on the Arctic Ocean.  Collaborating with the USGS Gas Hydrates Project and GEOMAR on the important issue of sea-air flux of greenhouse gases above seafloor methane seeps has been rewarding for all of the researchers involved.”

The study can be accessed here. The USGS Gas Hydrates Project is an international leader in the study of methane dynamics related to environmental and energy issues. In addition to the expeditions on the Svalbard margin, USGS has studied the interchange between methane and carbon dioxide at the ocean surface in Alaska’s Beaufort and Bering Seas, on the U.S. Atlantic margin, and in the Baltic and North Seas.

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About the Author

- Writer and Co-Founder of The Global Dispatch, Brandon has been covering news, offering commentary for years, beginning professionally in 2003 on Crazed Fanboy before expanding into other blogs and sites. Appearing on several radio shows, Brandon has hosted Dispatch Radio, written his first novel (The Rise of the Templar) and completed the three years Global University program in Ministerial Studies to be a pastor. To Contact Brandon email [email protected] ATTN: BRANDON

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  1. Sydney Morning Herald’s Peter Hannam places blame for Hurricane Harvey on Houston citizens | The Global Dispatch says:

    […] skips over the barrage of conflicting data, studies: CO2 and methane causing cooling effect on the climate not warming, arctic ice loss is due to natural processes and not CO2 or methane, or global warming caused by […]

  2. gdt says:

    trump was right, let’s fire trudeau

  3. Charles F Duemler says:

    most likely the extra co2 is coming up along with the methane and enriching the ocean, sorry

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