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Estimates of future warming-induced methane emissions from hydrate offshore west Svalbard for a range of climate models

Marin-Moreno, Héctor; Minshull, Timothy A.; Westbrook, Graham K.; Sinha, Bablu. 2015 Estimates of future warming-induced methane emissions from hydrate offshore west Svalbard for a range of climate models. Geochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems, 16 (5). 1307-1323. https://doi.org/10.1002/2015GC005737

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Abstract/Summary

Methane hydrate close to the hydrate stability limit in seafloor sediment could represent an important source of methane to the oceans and atmosphere as the oceans warm. We investigate the extent to which patterns of past and future ocean-temperature fluctuations influence hydrate stability in a region offshore West Svalbard where active gas venting has been observed. We model the transient behavior of the gas hydrate stability zone at 400–500 m water depth (mwd) in response to past temperature changes inferred from historical measurements and proxy data and we model future changes predicted by seven climate models and two climate-forcing scenarios (Representative Concentration Pathways RCPs 2.6 and 8.5). We show that over the past 2000 year, a combination of annual and decadal temperature fluctuations could have triggered multiple hydrate-sourced methane emissions from seabed shallower than 400 mwd during episodes when the multidecadal average temperature was similar to that over the last century (∼2.6°C). These temperature fluctuations can explain current methane emissions at 400 mwd, but decades to centuries of ocean warming are required to generate emissions in water deeper than 420 m. In the venting area, future methane emissions are relatively insensitive to the choice of climate model and RCP scenario until 2050 year, but are more sensitive to the RCP scenario after 2050 year. By 2100 CE, we estimate an ocean uptake of 97–1050 TgC from marine Arctic hydrate-sourced methane emissions, which is 0.06–0.67% of the ocean uptake from anthropogenic CO2 emissions for the period 1750–2011.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI): https://doi.org/10.1002/2015GC005737
ISSN: 15252027
Additional Keywords: gas hydrates; ocean warming; global climate models; modeling
NORA Subject Terms: Marine Sciences
Date made live: 11 May 2015 09:34 +0 (UTC)
URI: http://nora.nerc.ac.uk/id/eprint/510768

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