August 30 News: Antarctic Ice Sheet May Cover Reservoir Of Four Billion Tons Of Methane

A vast reservoir of the potent greenhouse gas methane may be locked beneath the Antarctic ice sheet, a study suggests. [Guardian]

“Our laboratory experiments tell us that these sub-ice environments are also biologically active, meaning that this organic carbon is probably being metabolised into carbon dioxide and methane gas by microbes.”

The amount of frozen and free methane gas beneath the ice sheets could amount to 4bn tonnes, the researchers estimate.

Disappearing ice could free enough of the gas to have an impact on future global climate change, they believe.

“Our study highlights the need for continued scientific exploration of remote sub-ice environments in Antarctica because they may have far greater impact on Earth’s climate system than we have appreciated in the past,” said Prof Tulaczyk.

The G.O.P. platform approved Tuesday in Florida included tough language on many expected issues like abortion, but also takes a stand on an issue that has historically been out of the party’s mainstream: Agenda 21. [New York Times]

Isaac’s whistling winds lashed this city and the storm dumped nearly a foot of rain on its desolate streets, but the system of levee pumps, walls and gates appeared to withstand one of the stiffest challenges yet. To the north and south, though, people had to be evacuated or rescued as Isaac lingered over Louisiana. [Washington Post]

Although it made landfall more than 12 hours earlier, Hurricane Isaac continued to pummel southern Louisiana Wednesday morning as the huge Category 1 storm stalled in its motion to the northwest. [Climate Central]

Climate change is already hurting seven national seashores on the Atlantic Coast and threatens to submerge some of their land within a century, according to a report Wednesday by environmental groups. [USA Today]

A total of 1,590 cases of West Nile virus, including 66 deaths, were reported through late August this year in the United States, the highest human toll by that point in the calendar since the mosquito-borne disease was first detected in the country in 1999, health officials said on Wednesday. [Reuters]

Prices for wheat, corn and soybeans rose. That was partly from Hurricane Isaac. Its rain might be welcome after a drought, but it’s unlikely to have much effect on crops that have been suffering all summer. It will also cut into harvesting time in the Southeast. [Associated Press]

Higher prices and crop-insurance payments will outweigh losses from dry conditions, propelling aggregate farm profits to $122.2 billion this year, up 3.7 percent from 2011, the U.S. Department of Agriculture forecast yesterday. [Businessweek]

Hot, dry and breezy conditions are working to elevate the wildfire danger in Minnesota. [Brainerd Dispatch]

Coal miners hats adorning the heads of West Virginia’s delegation proved to be a smash hit among other delegates at the National Republican Convention in Tampa. [Register Herald]

Employing the same daredevil tactics it has used against nuclear testing or commercial whaling, the environmental group is now dead-set on preventing oil companies from profiting from global warming by drilling for oil near the Arctic’s shrinking ice cap. [Washington Post]

The European Investment Bank announced Tuesday that it was providing electric car networks company Better Place with a €40 million loan, continuing the institution’s support for innovation and sustainable transportation. [CleanTechnica]

A gas explosion at a coal mine in south-west China has killed 19 miners and trapped dozens more, state media has reported. [Guardian]

11 Responses to August 30 News: Antarctic Ice Sheet May Cover Reservoir Of Four Billion Tons Of Methane

  1. An additional roundup of energy and climate headlines for 8/30 is posted at

  2. Spike says:

    Here’s info from Bristol Uni in the UK about the Antarctic methane study:

  3. Spike says:

    Erosion of coastal permafrost in Siberia is enhancing methane and CO2 release according to this press release by the Universitiy of Manchester

  4. Andy Olsen says:

    The Republican Party has “Denial Virus.”


  5. Paul Klinkman says:

    The West Antarctic ice sheet is being eaten out from below by extraordinarily warm ocean currents. This means that the methane clathrate deposits below the ice sheet are being warmed now, and probably that the methane is being released. In the Arctic Ocean we can see kilometer-sized methane release points. In the Antarctic we see nothing because of the ice sheet, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t bubbling away under the ice.

  6. Chris Winter says:

    From the NYT article on Republicans against Agenda 21:

    “Although it is nonbinding and has no force of law in the United States, it has increasingly become a point of passionate concern to a circle of Republican activists who argue that the resolution is part of a United Nations plot to deny Americans their property rights.”

    As opposed to eminent domain proceedings for the Keystone XL pipeline, (or, in the past, for certain sports facilities in Texas) which they apparently feel are perfectly fine.

  7. catman306 says:

    Speaking of ‘death spirals’:

    “Economist Richard Duncan: Civilization May Not Survive ‘Death Spiral’
    Richard Duncan, formerly of the World Bank and chief economist at Blackhorse Asset Mgmt., says America’s $16 trillion federal debt has escalated into a “death spiral, “as he told CNBC.

    And it could result in a depression so severe that he doesn’t “think our civilization could survive it.”

    And Duncan is not alone in warning that the U.S. economy may go into a “death spiral.”

    Since the recession, noted economists including Laurence Kotlikoff, a former member of President Reagan’s Council of Economic Advisers, have come to similar conclusions.”

  8. catman306 says:

    “And what’s really disturbing about these findings is that the pattern isn’t limited to our economy. We found the same catastrophic pattern in our energy, food, and water systems as well.”

    According to Martenson: “These systems could all implode at the same time. Food, water, energy, money. Everything.”

  9. Merrelyn Emery says:

    Yep – the Earth is an open system and as you would expect, behaves systemically, ME

  10. Merrelyn Emery says:

    The one small hope is that what we laughingly call the ‘economy’, as if it were separate from the biosphere, could collapse first, bringing CO2e close to zero, ME

  11. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    The ‘Worst Denial Virus’-tra-la-la.