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New Source Of Fossil Fuels?

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I wondered whether the more scientifically minded amongst us (no, not you andy) could comment on the following that I noticed in the latest New Scientist;

http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg2022...ossil-fuel.html

I keep hearing how there's shedloads of this stuff under the Ocean, which if true could mean we avoid energy poverty for a whole lot longer. Great news for the less developed parts of China, India and all of Africa, maybe they can join the party after all.

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There isn't a shortage of fossil fuels anyway. The shortage is of somewhere to put their oxidation products, ie CO2. There's tons of coal left.

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There isn't a shortage of fossil fuels anyway. The shortage is of somewhere to put their oxidation products, ie CO2. There's tons of coal left.

Generally people find that puting the Co2 into the atmosphere is best. There is lots of space and it keeps us warm/stops ice ages

Edited by moosetea

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I wondered whether the more scientifically minded amongst us (no, not you andy) could comment on the following that I noticed in the latest New Scientist;

http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg2022...ossil-fuel.html

I keep hearing how there's shedloads of this stuff under the Ocean, which if true could mean we avoid energy poverty for a whole lot longer. Great news for the less developed parts of China, India and all of Africa, maybe they can join the party after all.

A risk with these "frozen" reserves is that they self-extract as temperatures increase, wasting the resource and potentially leading to thermal runaway:

To make matters worse, the methane itself could exacerbate global warming if it starts leaking from the reserves. Methane is, molecule for molecule, 20 times as powerful at warming the air as CO2. Rising sea temperatures could melt some undersea clathrate reserves even without extraction projects disturbing them, triggering a release of this potent greenhouse gas. A decade ago, Peter Brewer of the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute in Moss Landing, California, showed how clathrates on the seabed just off the coast of California disappeared after an El Niño event raised ocean temperatures by 1 °C.

USGS:

Hydrates store immense amounts of methane, with major implications for energy resources and climate, but the natural controls on hydrates and their impacts on the environment are very poorly understood.

Gas hydrates occur abundantly in nature, both in Arctic regions and in marine sediments. Gas hydrate is a crystalline solid consisting of gas molecules, usually methane, each surrounded by a cage of water molecules. It looks very much like water ice. Methane hydrate is stable in ocean floor sediments at water depths greater than 300 meters, and where it occurs, it is known to cement loose sediments in a surface layer several hundred meters thick.

The worldwide amounts of carbon bound in gas hydrates is conservatively estimated to total twice the amount of carbon to be found in all known fossil fuels on Earth.

This estimate is made with minimal information from U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and other studies. Extraction of methane from hydrates could provide an enormous energy and petroleum feedstock resource. Additionally, conventional gas resources appear to be trapped beneath methane hydrate layers in ocean sediments.

...

Methane, a "greenhouse" gas, is 10 times more effective than carbon dioxide in causing climate warming.

Methane bound in hydrates amounts to approximately 3,000 times the volume of methane in the atmosphere. There is insufficient information to judge what geological processes might most affect the stability of hydrates in sediments and the possible release of methane into the atmosphere. Methane released as a result of landslides caused by a sea-level fall would warm the Earth, as would methane released from gas hydrates in Arctic sediments as they become warmed during a sea-level rise. This global warming might counteract cooling trends and thereby stabilize climatic fluctuation, or it could exacerbate climatic warming and thereby destabilize the climate.

I daresay we'll decide the risks are acceptable when the time comes though, and that the crowd that whines about how their parent's generation ate their future, will take their own places at table and proceed to gorge themselves ;)

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Generally people find that puting the Co2 into the atmosphere is best. There is lots of space and it keeps us warm/stops ice ages

Indeed, without the Greenhouse effect the worlds temperature would be 33c lower than today, and all the worlds oceans would be permanently frozen.

As they say, Global warming is an inconvenience, Global cooling would be a disaster.

That being said, im off to sit in the sun for a few hours.

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You can make methane (natural gas) by the anaerobic digestion of slurry/crops.

Almost every village in Nepal has a dome they fill with animal waste and food scraps and the gas that is produced supplies enough gas to cook their evening meal.

We used to have it here and it was called town gas.

A simple technology that should be more widely used.

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There is no real need for this natural gas as we have a surplus of the stuff.

Natural gas is now cheaper than coal in some US states.

So this will not work unless the cost of production is a low lower than current fields.

But then again, the Japanese would love to have a domestic energy source.

Edited by cells

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You can make methane (natural gas) by the anaerobic digestion of slurry/crops.

Almost every village in Nepal has a dome they fill with animal waste and food scraps and the gas that is produced supplies enough gas to cook their evening meal.

We used to have it here and it was called town gas.

A simple technology that should be more widely used.

No, we didn't (there would just not be enough feedstock); this is what we had:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coal_gas

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You can make methane (natural gas) by the anaerobic digestion of slurry/crops.

Almost every village in Nepal has a dome they fill with animal waste and food scraps and the gas that is produced supplies enough gas to cook their evening meal.

We used to have it here and it was called town gas.

A simple technology that should be more widely used.

I love this idea! :)

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Guest Steve Cook
I wondered whether the more scientifically minded amongst us (no, not you andy) could comment on the following that I noticed in the latest New Scientist;

http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg2022...ossil-fuel.html

I keep hearing how there's shedloads of this stuff under the Ocean, which if true could mean we avoid energy poverty for a whole lot longer. Great news for the less developed parts of China, India and all of Africa, maybe they can join the party after all.

I am well aware of the potential of methane clathrates.

Welcome to Venus...... :lol::lol:

F*ck me you gotta laugh

The Earth has "burped" these deposits up a couple of times in the past. Usually as a consequence of rising global temperatures. This has meant that the methane has been rapidly released in huge quantities once a critical thermal threshold has been breached. On each occasion, such geological activity has been accompanied in short order by AMEE. If we start to tap into these deposits we may well find we won't get to do it for very long.

Nice

Edited by Steve Cook

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Guest Steve Cook
Steve you spoilsport, you mean we're not saved after all?

We starve alone or we burn along with the rest of the biosphere.

Some choice

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Correct Steve, our culture as a whole and most of it's members are insane. The culture we have is driven by a death urge, and an urge to destroy life. We hate life, that is why we are busy destroying it.

The longer we wait for civilisation (based on the latin word civitas) to crash, or the longer we wait before we bring it down ourselves, the messier the crash will be.

The natural world in which we live is the basis of our economic system. To live in conflict with the natural world is to disassociate yourself from the physical world.

When you have this disconnect you can safely say that you are "insane".

Unfortunately our collective insanity is seen as the norm. The most bonkers are people like Cells and Hamish who are so far removed from reality that I actually wonder if they acknowledge it's existence..........

We are all stuck in the asylum with little chance of escaping unscathed.

Edited by SMAC67

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Guest Steve Cook

<h2 class="article-title"></h2>

<h2 class="article-title">A sleeping giant?</h2>As the planet warms, vast stores of methane — a potent greenhouse gas — could be released from frozen deposits on land and under the ocean. Amanda Leigh Mascarelli reports on the race to understand a ticking time bomb.

climate.2009.24-i1.jpgArctic permafrost known as yedoma is beginning to release its rich store of ice-age organic carbon as the ground thaws.

KATEY WALTER

In 2007, scientists scouting the icy waters of the Arctic Ocean began to notice some troubling signs. In about half of their seawater chemistry samples, the concentration of dissolved methane was two to ten times higher than in samples taken during previous years from the same locations. Then, last summer, they observed large rings of gas — sometimes as wide as 30 centimetres in diameter — trapped in ice, as well as methane plumes bubbling to the surface over hundreds of square kilometres of the shallow waters along the Siberian Shelf.

The team, from Russia and other nations, presented their results at the American Geophysical Union's Fall Meeting in December, where scientists cautiously voiced their concerns that large quantities of methane are becoming destabilized as the planet — and the ocean — heat up. Researchers have long speculated that warming could unleash vast stores of the greenhouse gas from where it lies frozen beneath the sea floor and locked up in Arctic soils. If those deposits were to melt, it would almost certainly trigger abrupt climate change. Methane heats the atmosphere with an efficiency 25 times that of carbon dioxide, and its release could put in motion a positive feedback loop in which warming releases methane, causing further warming, which liberates even more of the gas. Whether that's already happening is anyone's guess. Scientists are quick to point out that the Arctic methane plumes could be anomalous or simply part of a longer-term trend. Natalia Shakhova, a biogeochemist at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks, and one of the leaders of the Siberian Shelf study, says, "Two years is nothing in geologic time scales." James Kennett, an Earth scientist at the University of California, Santa Barbara, agrees and says it is very possible that the Arctic methane releases "just simply weren't observed before."

But the findings are part of a growing trend in which scientists are turning their attention to a threat conceivably worse than carbon dioxide. Though human activity has boosted atmospheric concentrations of methane by 150 per cent since the Industrial Revolution — mostly through agriculture and farming, the creation of landfills, biomass burning and fossil fuel use — that's nothing compared with the quantities that could be released from frozen deposits in the ground. "These deposits rival fossil fuels in terms of their size. It's like having a whole additional supply of coal, oil and natural gas out there that we can't control," says James White, a geochemist at the University of Colorado, Boulder.

Some of these deposits take the form of gas trapped within icy lattices of hydrogen bonds, known as hydrates or clathrates, that are tucked into pores of sediment below the sea floor. In shallow marine sediments such as those along the Siberian Shelf, hydrates are covered by a layer of frozen soil, called permafrost, that further protects them from melting. Both here and on land, permafrost stores vast quantities of carbon that could be converted to methane. Rich in organic material from dead plant and animal matter, thawed-out permafrost becomes alive with methane-producing microbes, which release the gas to the atmosphere. Some have compared it to unplugging a giant freezer: Warming temperatures could free up ancient carbon that's been safely tucked away for many thousands of years. "We've been putting carbon in this bank for 10,000 years," says White. "It's so cold that it doesn't decay away. But as the climate warms up, you start to take it out of the bank."

"These deposits rival fossil fuels in terms of their size. It's like having a whole additional supply of coal, oil and natural gas out there that we can't control."

James White

Although the rapid release of methane may sound like science fiction, it is not wholly far-fetched: methane has been suspected in nearly all of the dramatic warming spells in Earth's history. What's troubling to some is how little is currently known about the gas and its potential response to warming. "It's frightening that we can't even say what the background is," says Martin Kennedy, a geologist from the University of California, Riverside. "That's what's so alarming about the state of the field right now."

<h4 class="norm">Loosening the lid</h4>The Siberian Shelf alone harbours an estimated 1,400 billion tonnes of methane in gas hydrates, about twice as much carbon as is contained in all the trees, grasses and flowers on the planet. If just one per cent of this escaped into the atmosphere within a few decades, it would be enough to cause abrupt climate change, says Shakhova. "When hydrates are destabilized, gas is released under very high pressure," she says. "So emissions could be massive and non-gradual." Shakhova and her colleague Igor Semiletov of the University of Alaska, Fairbanks, believe the plumes they've observed confirm previous reports that the permafrost cap is beginning to destabilize, allowing methane to escape from the frozen hydrates below. "Subsea permafrost is like a rock," explains Semiletov. "It works like a lid to prevent escape of any gas. We believe that the subsea permafrost is failing to seal the ancient carbon pool." But Carolyn Ruppel, a geophysicist with the US Geological Survey in Woods Hole, Massachusetts, isn't yet ready to attribute the methane plumes to a breakdown in methane hydrates in the subsea permafrost. "We have proof from studies that have been carried out in the past few years that there's a lot of methane in certain shallow marine environments offshore in the Arctic," says Ruppel. "But can we prove that the methane comes from methane hydrates? That is a critical question."

Although methane hydrates are perhaps the biggest wild card in the system, scientists are equally, if not more, concerned about thawing permafrost in the Arctic, where changes are already underway. Permafrost in the Northern Hemisphere is thought to contain some 950 billion tonnes of carbon; a little less than half of that is stored in highly organic-rich permafrost known as yedoma, much of which has been frozen since the Pleistocene, 10,000 years ago. Yedoma occupies about one million square kilometres of land, mostly in Siberia, where Katey Walter, an ecologist from the University of Alaska, Fairbanks, navigates rivers and lakes, frozen soil and even protruding mammoth bones to study methane emanating from the thawing ground. "We find that we get a lot more methane seeps where there's permafrost thawing," says Walter.

Between 1974 and 2000, methane emissions increased by 58 per cent in the part of northern Siberia where Walter's team have focused their research. In a paper in Nature, they attributed this increase to melting permafrost, which forms ponds and lakes on the land surfacePubMed | Rigby, M. et al. Geophys. Res. Lett. doi: doi:10.1029/2008GL036037 (2008). | Article |

Reagan, M. T. & Moridis, G. J. J. Geophys. Res. 113, C12023, doi:doi:10.1029/2008JC004938 (2008).
Archer, A., Buffett, B. & Brovkin, V. Proc. Nat. Acad. Sci. USA doi/doi:10.1073/pnas.0800885105 (2008). | Article |
Lamarque, J. Geophys. Res. Lett. 35, L19806 (2008).
Froese, D. G., Westgate, J. A., Reyes, A. V., Enkin, R. J. & Preece, S. J. Science 321, 1648 (2008). | Article | http://' target="_blank">Kennedy, M., Mrofka, D. & von der Borch, C. Nature 453, 642–645 (2008). |

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Guest Steve Cook
Correct Steve, our culture as a whole and most of it's members are insane. The culture we have is driven by a death urge, and an urge to destroy life. We hate life, that is why we are busy destroying it.

The longer we wait for civilisation (based on the latin word civitas) to crash, or the longer we wait before we bring it down ourselves, the messier the crash will be.

The natural world in which we live is the basis of our economic system. To live in conflict with the natural world is to disassociate yourself from the physical world.

When you have this disconnect you can safely say that you are "insane".

Unfortunately our collective insanity is seen as the norm. The most bonkers are people like Cells and Hamish who are so far removed from reality that I actually wonder if they acknowledge it's existence..........

We are all stuck in the asylum with little chance of escaping unscathed.

A death urge....an urge to destroy life......yes

God help us all.

And that's saying something...given I'm a bloody atheist....

The truth is I've given up on the vast majority of of the people in our civilisation doing anything other than continuing merrily heading for the cliff-edge. The thing that pissess me off though, is that those of us who would like to take a different journey are swept along with the madness whether we like it or not.

The good will suffer with the bad. Nature has no favourites. At least not in the short to medium term.

Edited by Steve Cook

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Totally OT but three cheers for Steve!

He's the HPC forums equivalent of the schientist in 50's B movies. Every time we think the crisis over, he has a new chart of doom.

Hip hip

Hurrah!

Here he is in the bottom left, hard at work -

daytheworldended.jpg

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Ah yes, the incomprehensible fear of the unknown strikes again. We’re our own down fall, we’ll be wiped out, blah blah.

So what! Why this care for our own self-importance?

Well over 90% of species that have been on this planet have been wiped out and they were all pretty much one with nature far more than we ever were, so lets just do it, why the worry?

If we don’t, the planets going to do it for us anyway. I’m afraid the odds just aren’t that good people.

link

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Guest Steve Cook
Ah yes, the incomprehensible fear of the unknown strikes again. We’re our own down fall, we’ll be wiped out, blah blah.

So what! Why this care for our own self-importance?

Well over 90% of species that have been on this planet have been wiped out and they were all pretty much one with nature far more than we ever were, so lets just do it, why the worry?

If we don’t, the planets going to do it for us anyway. I’m afraid the odds just aren’t that good people.

link

You be cavalier with your own prospects of continued existence if you wish. Personally, I would be very pleased if you left mine (and those of my descendants) alone.

But of course you wont. And, lets face it, there are more of you than there are of me.

Hey ho

Edited by Steve Cook

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Guest Steve Cook
I'm assuming the MEE is "Mass Extinction Event", but what does the A stand for, Steve?

"A" stands for A

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