In 1999 Whitley Strieber and Art Bell predicted that events like this were going to happen if we ignored the reality of climate change. A changing Gulf Stream off the East Coast has destabilized frozen methane deposits trapped under nearly 4,000 square miles of the seafloor, and since methane is even more potent a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide, any large-scale release like this could have a major impact on the climate.
Methane hydrates are "frozen" methane that nature stores in vast quantities on the floor of our colder oceans. If those hydrates melt the methane is released as gas and bubbles up into the atmosphere where it becomes a gas that traps 10 times as much heat as carbon dioxide.
It breaks down over a period of years, but during those years, as has happened in the past, temperatures shoot up. Once the methane is gone, a cooler climate regime reasserts itself, and there is evidence that this process is accompanied by extraordinary storms--what has come to be called the Superstorm Scenario.
On NBC News, Miguel Llanos quotes climate scientist Ben Phrampus as saying, "It is unlikely that the western North Atlantic margin is the only area experiencing changing ocean currents. Our estimate may therefore represent only a fraction of the methane hydrate currently destabilizing globally."
We may be approaching a turning point from a warming driven by man-made carbon dioxide to a warming driven by methane. Llanos quotes geologist Jurgen Mienert as saying, "The interactions between the warming Arctic Ocean and the potentially huge methane-ice reservoirs beneath the Arctic Ocean floor point towards increasing instability."
It may be hard to believe, but Whitley Strieber had never heard of climate change before but the Master of the Key burst into his hotel room in Toronto and told him all about it, which led to the hit movie "The Day After Tomorrow."