Leaking methane reservoirs offshore Svalbard

Type Article
Date 2012-10
Language English
Author(s) Minshull T. A.1, Westbrook Graham1, 2, Weitemeyer K. A.1, Sinha M. C.1, Goswami B. K.1, Marsset Bruno2
Affiliation(s) 1 : University of Southampton, Southampton, UK
2 : Ifremer, Centre de Brest, Plouzane, France
Source Eos, Transactions American Geophysical Union (00963941) (American Geophysical Union (AGU)), 2012-10 , Vol. 93 , N. 42 , P. 413-414
DOI 10.1029/2012EO420001
Keyword(s) methane hydrate, Svalbard, sea floor, seismic, electromagnetic, arctic

Methane hydrate—a solid substance in which methane is trapped within ice‐like crystals—is stable at low temperatures and high pressures and may be destabilized by ocean warming on both geological and human time scales. Methane is a powerful greenhouse gas, and methane released from hydrate provides a potential positive feedback mechanism in global climate change [e.g., Archer and Buffett, 2005]—in theory, the more methane is released by the hydrates, the warmer the climate gets, causing the ocean to warm and release more methane. However, methane escaping from the seabed is oxidized and dissolved in the ocean, and insufficient methane may reach the atmosphere to affect the climate significantly. Its importance for climate change therefore depends on whether the flux from the seabed is great enough to overcome solution in the ocean and perturb atmospheric concentrations over sufficiently long time scales.

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