Escaping Gas Bubbles: Rising Temperatures


Richard Moore

Original source URL:

Super Computer Predicts Rising Temperatures as Escaping Gas Bubbles Up Through 
the Sea

By Bill Blakemore

ABC News
August 4, 2006

Visualization can be a powerful aid to realization, and two such aids to 
realizing the great and imminent danger of global warming have just come to 

One paints a remarkable picture of the output of an immense supercomputer hidden
in the basement of a futuristic government building in the foothills of the 
Colorado Rockies that requires a special pass. The other reveals a scene on the 
sea floor off the coast of California, previously requiring SCUBA gear and a 
waterproof map.

Now you can see both by just clicking on the "Video -- click to watch" caption 
under the picture next to this story:

The gigantic super-computer in the basement of the National Center for 
Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colo., is so big you can walk down the aisles 
inside it, the walls of the sleek black servers at either elbow, wrapped in the 
constant hum of air coolers and countless trillions of silicon chip operations 
working day and night to calculate the climate future over the next several 
decades of the only home we've got: Earth.

"These super computers are getting more and more powerful every year," scientist
Jerry Meehl told us as he gave us the tour. "It makes the computers we were 
using for global warming predictions back in the 1980s look primitive."

And even those computers, we now know from events such as the double heat wave 
just past, were predicting accurately.

Scientists at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in Boulder 
have now figured out how to project the computer predictions -- which used to be
just rows of numbers -- in the form of changing colors on a 5-foot sphere with 
the continents outlined on it.

A number of these spheres are now being installed in museums around the United 
States and the world, so the world can see what it's in for.

With green and blue for cooler temperatures, scientists and regular folks can 
watch the digitized projectors paint the globe, starting in 1870. Along about 
1990, the globe grows yellower -- warmer -- and is entirely yellow by 2001.

Then comes the sobering part. Red, for much warmer, starts to appear in North 
America -- and other continents -- and by 2051 the United States is almost 
entirely red.

That's only 45 years from now, when today's toddlers will barely be in middle 

There Is Consensus, The Earth Is Getting Warmer, Faster

The leading climate scientists now generally agree that earth in the coming 
decades will warm another 2 degrees Fahrenheit no matter what we do -- partly 
because carbon dioxide, the major manmade greenhouse gas, stays in the 
atmosphere about a hundred years.

That's in addition to the average of 1.4 degrees Fahrenheit the Earth has 
already warmed from manmade causes -- which though it doesn't sound like much 
(remember, it's a single-number average for the entire planet) has already, say 
most scientists, given us disappearing glaciers worldwide, drought and famine, 
increasingly frequent and more intense heat waves and millions of species in 
ecosystems everywhere scrambling for cooler ground but often running into 
uncrossable highways and ever-expanding human development.

Even scarier is the other sight, about 20 meters down off the coast of Santa 
Barbara, Calif.: bubbles, millions of bubbles of methane -- 20 times more 
powerful as a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide.

The methane is bubbling up naturally from some of the enormous natural undersea 
reservoirs of the gas mostly locked into the frozen mud under the sea floor.

Scientists have just released video showing how, for the first time, they have 
been able to measure these natural up-wellings to tell whether, if large amounts
of this methane ever thawed out from its deep sea beds, it would reach the 
atmosphere, rather than being absorbed in the water, and thus make the earth 
even hotter.

The findings of oceanographer Ira Leifer et al, published in a strictly 
peer-reviewed scientific journal, are that it would do just that.

In other words, all that undersea methane is a potential "positive feedback" of 
catastrophic proportions.

If warming currents, such as those already detected by scientists at depth, 
begin to thaw these methane beds, it will make the atmosphere, and consequently 
the sea currents, even warmer, and melt out more methane.

A number of scientists tell me that would take the Earth up into temperatures 
humankind has never experienced -- and probably could not survive.

They believe it's happened for natural reasons before -- before, for example, 
the Jurassic age, when dinosaurs, but no humans, roamed the earth.

That's why they insist we must stop the unnatural burning of fossil fuels -- 
oil, coal and gas -- which risks giving such a methane mega-burp an artificial 
kick that could -- hard as this is to take in -- end civilization.

Small doses are the best way to take in such news.

Psychologists tell us that a little denial when facing truly frightening news 
can, at first, be a good thing. It helps us hold ourselves together in face of 
the threat, helps keep our "meaning systems" intact.

As long as we keep working back towards reality.

No child wants to think it can harm the basic wellbeing of a protective parent 
who provides its only world.

They can't even believe they could do such a thing.

Climate scientists are telling us we are doing just that to our own Mother 
Earth, and we should believe it.

Informant: David Sunfellow
RUDKLA - 6. AUG, 22:18

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