Shrinking Florida Coastlines

Tallahassee - June 14, 2012 - 10:5pm

FSU Department of Earth, Ocean and Atmospheric Science --
The ancient reserves of methane gas seeping from the melting Arctic ice cap told Jeff Chanton and fellow researchers what they already knew: As the permafrost thaws, there is a release of methane, a powerful greenhouse gas that causes climate warming.

The trick was figuring out how much, said Chanton, the John W. Winchester Professor of Oceanography at Florida State University.

The four-member team — whose findings were published in the respected journal Nature Geoscience — documented a large number of gas seep sites in the Arctic where permafrost is thawing and glaciers receding (they found 77 previously undocumented seep sites, comprising 150,000 vents to the atmosphere). Until recently, the cryosphere (frozen soil and ice) has served to plug or block these vents. But thawing conditions have allowed the conduits to open, and deep geologic methane now escapes.

The team studied the link between natural gas seepage and the melting ice cap, using aerial photos and field data to figure out the number — and location — of seep holes.

So, here’s the rub: The more the ice cap melts, the more methane is released into the atmosphere — and the more the climate warms.

Why should this matter to you?

People who live in coastal areas of Florida could be directly affected, said Chanton, who analyzed the methane and dated it to more than 40,000 years old.

All this seeping methane causes more melting ice, Chanton said, which causes sea levels to rise and could affect coastal real estate values — sooner rather than later.

How soon?

Possibly over the next 50 to 100 years, Chanton said.

“Methane is a very strong greenhouse gas that’s grown three times faster than carbon dioxide since the industrial era,” Chanton said. “As the Arctic warms, the ice caps melt and the fissures open, so methane escapes and causes more warming.”

This phenomenon causes sea levels to rise, which is particularly problematic in Florida:

“Along the flat Florida coastline, a 1-foot rise in sea level could cause anywhere from 10 to 100 feet of shoreline retreat — erosion,” Chanton said. “For us here in Florida, this is really important because we can expect the coast to recede.”

That beach house, he warned, might be in peril: “It may not be there for your grandchildren.”


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Comments are posted from viewers like you and do not always reflect the views of this station.
  • by Carrabelle on Jun 16, 2012 at 04:59 AM
    Al Gore ????????????????????????
  • by i can not afford it anyway. Location: ga on Jun 15, 2012 at 08:46 PM
    who cares if god wants the shoreline to wash into the ocean so be it. homes and condows on every inch of ocean front is destructive to nature anyway.GOD HAS A WAY OF REPAIRING HIS BEAUTIFUL EARTH.HURRICANES ARE FOR A REASON SO ARE FLOODS AND FIRES. MAN DONT RULE THE EARTH.
  • by J on Jun 15, 2012 at 02:35 PM
    Give it up people. When you can't find proof of man-made global warming then I guess you have to start blaming it on dinosaur farts and trapped methane gas. The global warming concept is nothing more then a money laundring scheme.
  • by Travis Location: Boca Raton on Jun 15, 2012 at 11:13 AM
    Came here looking for belligerent low IQ comments. Was not disappointed.
    • reply
      by Hmmm.... on Jun 15, 2012 at 12:33 PM in reply to Travis
      So were you attempting to raise the bar by adding your drivel?
    • reply
      by Anonymous on Jun 15, 2012 at 01:36 PM in reply to Travis
      well then, you shouldn't be disappointed by reading your own post.
    • reply
      by Willard on Jun 15, 2012 at 01:45 PM in reply to Travis
      So nice of you to drop in, Jasper! How ARE things down in the "Mouth of the Rat?"
    • reply
      by Bubba III on Jun 15, 2012 at 04:23 PM in reply to Travis
      So Travis, bubie, you live in Boca, at sea level? Hope your trailer is mobile.
    • reply
      by jules ottie on Jun 15, 2012 at 08:42 PM in reply to Travis
      tarvis who?
  • by Fisherman on Jun 15, 2012 at 11:08 AM
    The bright side is that there is more open water for boating
  • by Willard on Jun 15, 2012 at 09:10 AM
    Oh, dear. The grand kids will not get Pop Pop's beach house. How terribly sad.
  • by Joe Location: Tally on Jun 15, 2012 at 08:10 AM
    Not true, this whole story is a lie.
    • reply
      by Birther on Jun 15, 2012 at 11:09 AM in reply to Joe
      sure is, a conspiracy by environmentalist, communist, socialist Obama supporters from Kenya
      • reply
        by truth on Jun 15, 2012 at 06:27 PM in reply to Birther
        naw more of the tea party republican bull, to scare you to sell so they can buy!!!
  • by Anonymous on Jun 15, 2012 at 07:33 AM
    Sleeping arctic methane ????????
    • reply
      by BP Rep on Jun 15, 2012 at 06:20 PM in reply to
      We are piping it in now...
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