Escape of methane gas from the seabed along the West Spitsbergen continental margin

Westbrook, G. K. and Thatcher, K. E. and Rohling, E. J. and Piotrowski, A. M. and Pälike, H. and Osborne, A. H. and Nisbet, E. G. and Minshull, T. A. and Lanoisellé, M. and James, R. H. and Hühnerbach, V. and Green, D. and Fisher, R. E. and Crocker, A. J. and Chabert, A. and Bolton, C. and Beszczynska-Möller, A. and Berndt, C. and Aquilina, A. (2009) Escape of methane gas from the seabed along the West Spitsbergen continental margin. Geophysical Research Letters, 36. L15608. DOI 10.1029/2009GL039191

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Abstract

More than 250 plumes of gas bubbles have been discovered emanating from the seabed of the West Spitsbergen continental margin, in a depth range of 150–400 m, at and above the present upper limit of the gas hydrate stability zone (GHSZ). Some of the plumes extend upward to within 50 m of the sea surface. The gas is predominantly methane. Warming of the northward-flowing West Spitsbergen current by 1°C over the last thirty years is likely to have increased the release of methane from the seabed by reducing the extent of the GHSZ, causing the liberation of methane from decomposing hydrate. If this process becomes widespread along Arctic continental margins, tens of Teragrams of methane per year could be released into the ocean.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: 09AREP; IA58;
Subjects: 01 - Climate Change and Earth-Ocean Atmosphere Systems
Divisions: 01 - Climate Change and Earth-Ocean Atmosphere Systems
Journal or Publication Title: Geophysical Research Letters
Volume: 36
Page Range: L15608
Identification Number: 10.1029/2009GL039191
Depositing User: Sarah Humbert
Date Deposited: 11 Aug 2009 11:34
Last Modified: 23 Jul 2013 09:55
URI: http://eprints.esc.cam.ac.uk/id/eprint/1124

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