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Arctic Methane: AIRS videos

by on January 13, 2012

AIRS Methane 2006-2009

Chris R writes: Arctic Methane: AIRS videos.
There’s been a flurry of activity on the ‘net about methane and the Arctic recently. This seems to be related to the AGU poster by Semilitov & Shakhova and new research from them due for publication this year. The ever-excellent Realclimate have posted two articles by Dr David Archer, here and here. Neven’s Sea-Ice blog (also excellent) addresses the issue here.

I’m busy reading up on the subject. In the meantime Dr Leonid Yurganov has been kind enough to give permission for me to put some of his satellite images into videos. The images are derived from NASA’s Atmospheric Infra-red Sounder (AIRS), info and data. Version 5 of the retrieval algorithm is used. The images are available here. Those interested may want to read Dr Yurganov’s presentation to a London symposium on Arctic methane (pdf – right click and ‘save as’), it’s informative and well worth spending time on.

There are 12 videos each covering the full set of data for one month. Due to the large intra-annual variability this seemed the best approach. I’ll be referring to these in due course but for now they’re posted so that anyone who’s interested can make use of them. They’re done as links because the Blogger video interface is too small (and I can’t be bothered manually editing all the html entries).

Bear in mind that these show methane at 400mbar height so any large surface fluxes will be mixed unless plumed up into the atmosphere. For example the AIRS website has a graphic of a plume of methane at 200mbar implying signifcantly higher concentrations at the surface. That page also states AIRS is most sensitive around 200mbar with an accuracy of 1.2 to 1.5%.













I’ll keep an eye on their viewing statistics to see if it’s worth updating them as time goes by, if you find them useful and want me to update regularly just ask.

  1. Chris R,

    Thanks for your work on these animations. They are most helpful.

    I wonder how difficult it would be to construct an animation of the entire sequence, month-by-month, beginning in 2003 and continuing to the present.

    I do some blogging on climate change. Methane in the Arctic is certainly getting some attention lately. I’m pretty sure that such an animation would be an eye-opener – as it should be.

  2. Whilst I strongly disagree with some of your conclusions about Arctic methane (I’m with Archer – chronic not catastrophic). I think you should be aware that December and January have now been updated. So you’ll need to update this page with the correct URLs each month. Sorry about this, but it’s the only way as I need to delete videos and replace with the updated version.
    I shall continue to update due to the popularity of these videos. However won’t be declaring this at my blog or elsewhere.

    Updates shall continue indefinitely, however Dr Yurganov may change the algorithm to including the ascending path, which may make inter-month comparison meaningless. Furthermore the AIRS product will update to the next version this year, again that may make such comparisons meaningless. I hope that this will not be the case, and the continuity will be maintained, however if I decide not to update due to such changes I will announce at my blog, keep an eye on the tag ‘Arctic Methane’ over at my blog for updates.

    As usual I can be contacted at my blog.

    • Hi Chris R., what are these conclusions you disagree with? I did not made “any”, just quoted your post… Thanks for keeping me updated!


      • I hope Dr. Goldberg is successful at finnidg an energy efficient means to make the conversion. We’re going to need a lot of methanol for spinning reserves (on-line back up power sources). Either natural gas or nuclear power (or both) are the only base load energy sources that can make solar and wind even remotely viable over the next several decades. Until a new energy storage technology is invented the best we can do is mix renewable energy with traditional, more reliable energy technologies.

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. The Daisyworld Model « The Climax
  2. 1 Gt of methane in the Arctic? What would be the impact of such a release? « The Climax

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