Farewell to Permafrost: Nick at Orkney’s International Science Festival

By Nick Morrison

Prof WadhamProf Peter Wadhams of Cambridge University outlined the growing methane {CH4} emissions and their effects on current and future climate change.

There are huge deposits of methane hydrates [(CH4)8 (H2O) 46]  both underneath the Arctic permafrost and on the continental shelf of the Arctic sea. Methane hydrate is not thermally stable. Global warming is causing it to breakdown releasing methane.

Arctic sea ice which has been keeping the arctic sea cool has been getting less and less each year. As a result of this parts of the Arctic sea are at 11degC– that’s the same as the sea off Scarborough. Locals in Siberia recently were awoken by a large bang. On investigation a large crater was found where a build up of methane had burst through the upper layers. It is happening in Canada as well. Satellite images identify over 7000 “bulges” in the Siberian peninsula which are the start of more craters.

Why is this relevant?

Methane is 25 times more potent as a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide and is set to take over from CO2 as the major greenhouse gas.  A direct result of global warming is sea level rise to which we here in Orkney are vulnerable.

The Met office records show a steady increase since 1900 and the rate of ice disappearance appears to be accelerating. Sea level rise, not constant throughout the world is already making some Islands on the eastern seaboard of America uninhabitable. Over 100 million people live within 1 meter of high tide. London is merely one of 8 major cities at risk.

In order to stop emitting CO2 we need to substantially reduce,if not stop our dependence on fossil fuels and accelerate our use of renewable s and in particular Hydrogen. So to the good people at that world leading  Campus in Stromness  – keep doing what you are doing!


2 replies »

Leave a Reply