Basin scale assessment of gas hydrate dissociation in response to climate change

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Paleooceanographic evidence has been used to postulate that methane from oceanic hydrates may have had a significant role in regulating climate. However, the behavior of contemporary oceanic methane hydrate deposits subjected to rapid temperature changes, like those now occurring in the arctic and those predicted under future climate change scenarios, has only recently been investigated. Field investigations have discovered substantial methane gas plumes exiting the seafloor along the Arctic Ocean margin, and the plumes appear at depths corresponding to the upper limit of a receding gas hydrate stability zone. It has been suggested that these plumes may be the first ... continued below

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Reagan, M.; Moridis, G.; Elliott, S.; Maltrud, M. & Cameron-Smith, P. July 1, 2011.

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Paleooceanographic evidence has been used to postulate that methane from oceanic hydrates may have had a significant role in regulating climate. However, the behavior of contemporary oceanic methane hydrate deposits subjected to rapid temperature changes, like those now occurring in the arctic and those predicted under future climate change scenarios, has only recently been investigated. Field investigations have discovered substantial methane gas plumes exiting the seafloor along the Arctic Ocean margin, and the plumes appear at depths corresponding to the upper limit of a receding gas hydrate stability zone. It has been suggested that these plumes may be the first visible signs of the dissociation of shallow hydrate deposits due to ongoing climate change in the arctic. We simulate the release of methane from oceanic deposits, including the effects of fully-coupled heat transfer, fluid flow, hydrate dissociation, and other thermodynamic processes, for systems representative of segments of the Arctic Ocean margins. The modeling encompasses a range of shallow hydrate deposits from the landward limit of the hydrate stability zone down to water depths beyond the expected range of century-scale temperature changes. We impose temperature changes corresponding to predicted rates of climate change-related ocean warming and examine the possibility of hydrate dissociation and the release of methane. The assessment is performed at local-, regional-, and basin-scales. The simulation results are consistent with the hypothesis that dissociating shallow hydrates alone can result in significant methane fluxes at the seafloor. However, the methane release is likely to be confined to a narrow region of high dissociation susceptibility, defined by depth and temperature, and that any release will be continuous and controlled, rather than explosive. This modeling also establishes the first realistic bounds for methane release along the arctic continental shelf for potential hydrate dissociation scenarios, and ongoing work may help confirm whether climate change is already impacting the stability of the vast oceanic hydrate reservoir.

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  • 7th International Conference on Gas Hydrates (ICGH 2011), Edinburgh, UK, July 17-21, 2011

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  • Report No.: LBNL-5144E
  • Grant Number: DE-AC02-05CH11231
  • Office of Scientific & Technical Information Report Number: 1051649
  • Archival Resource Key: ark:/67531/metadc838442

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  • July 1, 2011

Added to The UNT Digital Library

  • May 19, 2016, 9:45 a.m.

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  • Sept. 29, 2017, 4:10 p.m.

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Reagan, M.; Moridis, G.; Elliott, S.; Maltrud, M. & Cameron-Smith, P. Basin scale assessment of gas hydrate dissociation in response to climate change, article, July 1, 2011; Berkeley, California. (https://digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc838442/: accessed April 20, 2019), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, https://digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.