AGU Methane Session Announcement

27th July 2010. From Andy Ridgwell, University of Bristol Dear Methane-philes, For those of you planning on attending the AGU Fall meeting this year, please consider submitting to a session (B53) that Mark Maslin and myself are holding: “The role of methane hydrates in the Earth system:`burps of death´ or seductive irrelevance?” While I *ahem* took some liberties with the title, we have at heart a weighty and critical look at methane hydrates and their potential relationship to and role in (past and future) global change. A fuller description is attached, while the overly-brief AGU-compliant text is as follows: “Aside from warming and carbon isotopic imprint, the geological record contains little solid evidence that methane hydrate destabilization has been important in the past. As the nature of modern hydrate deposits, global inventory, and likely modes of destabilization and biogeochemical fate of the liberated methane are all subject to intense debate and uncertainty, there a danger that invoking methane release from hydrates becomes a rather lazy and unsubstantiated means of explaining observed isotopic excursions. This session will critically examine the potential role of methane hydrates in past changes in climate and carbon cycling in light of modern uncertainties and gaps in knowledge.” We hope that this session may prove an antidote to the current tendency to ascribe just about any isotopic excursion seen in a lump of rock to hydrate destabalization. Such event may well be methane- related … but there may have been for a variety of reasons, no hydrate in the first place, and really: how confident are we with predicting current distributions and inventories in the first place? Andy


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