Wosis then? Is it the sea ice? Ah, no. Someone else wants in on the limelight: “Parts of Arctic Siberia are releasing ten times more carbon into the atmosphere than previously thought, a University of Manchester scientist and an international team of researchers have found.”
Its the usual stuff:
much more greenhouse gas is being released into the atmosphere than previously calculated, from and ancient an large carbon pool held in a permafrost along the 7,000 km desolate coast of northernmost Siberian Arctic – dramatically increasing global warming. As the temperature climbs carbon, stored in vast ice walls along this Arctic coast called Yedoma, covering about one million km2 (four times the area of the UK), is pouring into the Arctic Ocean in one of the world’s most remote and desolate regions. This region is experiencing twice the global average of climate warming. While satellite images reveal thousands of kilometers of milky-cloudy waters along the Arctic coast, suggesting a massive influx of material, the Yedoma has remained understudied largely due to the region’s inaccessibility. By studying the thaw-eroding slopes of a disappearing island, the team found that the tens-of-thousands year old coastal Yedoma carbon is rapidly converted to CO2 and methane, even before being washed into the sea
and so on. It is honest enough to say quietly that the present rate of carbon release from the NE Siberian coast is not substantially affecting the CO2 levels in the global atmosphere yet – but then how can you possibly reconcile that with the headline? Or indeed the following text the scale of the release of both CO2 and methane into the atmosphere will have a huge effect. This will have consequences for the temperatures all over the world. There are various nutters pushing the “methane emergency” line. And although that in itself doesn’t discredit more serious people, the serious people need to talk sense and not just grab headlines, if they want to be taken seriously.
None of which says anything about the quality of the science, which sits quietly paywalled by Nurture. Its quite likely a valuable, if minor, contribution to our knowledge of carbon fluxes in the Arctic. It just doesn’t deserve the headlines it is offering.
And speaking of, errm, overenthusiasm, don’t get me started on Wadhams The entire ice cover is now on the point of collapse… It is truly the case that it will be all gone by 2015. No, it won’t be.