Contribution of oceanic gas hydrate dissociation to the formation of Arctic Ocean methane plumes

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Vast quantities of methane are trapped in oceanic hydrate deposits, and there is concern that a rise in the ocean temperature will induce dissociation of these hydrate accumulations, potentially releasing large amounts of carbon into the atmosphere. Because methane is a powerful greenhouse gas, such a release could have dramatic climatic consequences. The recent discovery of active methane gas venting along the landward limit of the gas hydrate stability zone (GHSZ) on the shallow continental slope (150 m - 400 m) west of Svalbard suggests that this process may already have begun, but the source of the methane has not ... continued below

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Reagan, M.; Moridis, G.; Elliott, S. & Maltrud, M. June 1, 2011.

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Vast quantities of methane are trapped in oceanic hydrate deposits, and there is concern that a rise in the ocean temperature will induce dissociation of these hydrate accumulations, potentially releasing large amounts of carbon into the atmosphere. Because methane is a powerful greenhouse gas, such a release could have dramatic climatic consequences. The recent discovery of active methane gas venting along the landward limit of the gas hydrate stability zone (GHSZ) on the shallow continental slope (150 m - 400 m) west of Svalbard suggests that this process may already have begun, but the source of the methane has not yet been determined. This study performs 2-D simulations of hydrate dissociation in conditions representative of the Arctic Ocean margin to assess whether such hydrates could contribute to the observed gas release. The results show that shallow, low-saturation hydrate deposits, if subjected to recently observed or future predicted temperature changes at the seafloor, can release quantities of methane at the magnitudes similar to what has been observed, and that the releases will be localized near the landward limit of the GHSZ. Both gradual and rapid warming is simulated, along with a parametric sensitivity analysis, and localized gas release is observed for most of the cases. These results resemble the recently published observations and strongly suggest that hydrate dissociation and methane release as a result of climate change may be a real phenomenon, that it could occur on decadal timescales, and that it already may be occurring.

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  • Journal Name: Journal of Geophysical Research?Oceans; Journal Volume: 116; Journal Issue: C9; Related Information: Journal Publication Date: 2011

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  • Report No.: LBNL-5145E
  • Grant Number: DE-AC02-05CH11231
  • DOI: 10.1029/2011JC007189 | External Link
  • Office of Scientific & Technical Information Report Number: 1051648
  • Archival Resource Key: ark:/67531/metadc827823

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Office of Scientific & Technical Information Technical Reports

Reports, articles and other documents harvested from the Office of Scientific and Technical Information.

Office of Scientific and Technical Information (OSTI) is the Department of Energy (DOE) office that collects, preserves, and disseminates DOE-sponsored research and development (R&D) results that are the outcomes of R&D projects or other funded activities at DOE labs and facilities nationwide and grantees at universities and other institutions.

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  • June 1, 2011

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  • May 19, 2016, 9:45 a.m.

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  • Sept. 29, 2017, 4:21 p.m.

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Reagan, M.; Moridis, G.; Elliott, S. & Maltrud, M. Contribution of oceanic gas hydrate dissociation to the formation of Arctic Ocean methane plumes, article, June 1, 2011; Berkeley, California. (https://digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc827823/: accessed April 18, 2019), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, https://digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.