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Scientists Raise Alarm About Methane From Melting Arctic Sea Ice

Arctic Sea Ice 2012

A group of concerned scientists is raising alarm about melting Arctic sea ice and calling for last ditch efforts to save the world from a planetary emergency.

Arctic Sea Ice 1980

Professor Stephen Salter and the Arctic Methane Emergency Group (AMEG) warned U.K. MP’s that melting Arctic sea ice is leading to the release of methane, which is a much more potent greenhouse gas than carbon-dioxide. If the Arctic becomes completely ice-free in the summer, it could trigger a massive release of methane, thus exacerbating climate change and increasing global temperatures to dangerous new heights.

The AMEG claims that we could be seeing a large-scale release of methane as early as 2015.

Unfortunately, Arctic sea-ice has been melting substantially over the past decade. In particular, for each of the last four years, minimum September levels have seen about two-thirds of the average cover as was seen in 1979-2000. Ice has melted so much that new ice-free shipping lanes have opened up between Europe and Asia.

In response, Salter and the AMEG are calling for “technical fixes” or “geo-engineering” to reverse the effects of climate change in the region.

An initial plan was to bring ships into the Arctic Ocean to spray whitening clouds into the air to reflect incoming solar radiation back into space. But now Salter feels that we don’t have time to build the ships, and instead suggests the construction of towers to spray tiny water droplets into the sky.

However, some have expressed concern that geo-engineering could only make matters worse. For instance, some scientists have argued that spraying the wrong size water particles into the sky (under the cloud-whitening solution) could in fact increase global warming.

And still other scientists remain reluctant to accept that Arctic methane will release as quickly as the AMEG suggests.

Meteorologist Lord (Julian) Hunt, who chaired the meeting of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Climate Change, stated that a sudden release of methane was not inevitable and that it was instead an “an issue for scientific debate”.

What are your thoughts on melting sea-ice in the Arctic? Would you support geo-engineering solutions to counteract the effects of global warming?

Image courtesy of NASA

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