Rising Arctic Ocean temperatures cause gas hydrate destabilization and ocean acidification

Rüpke, Lars H., Biastoch, Arne, Treude, Tina, Riebesell, Ulf, Roth, Christina, Burwicz, Ewa B., Park, Wonsun, Latif, Mojib, Böning, Claus W., Wallmann, Klaus and Madec, Gurvan (2012) Rising Arctic Ocean temperatures cause gas hydrate destabilization and ocean acidification [Talk] In: Arctic Frontiers 2012 – ‘Energies of the High North’, 22. - 27.01.2012, Tromsø, Norway.

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Abstract

Formed under low temperature – high pressure conditions vast amounts of methane hydrates are considered to be locked up in sediments of continental margins including the Arctic shelf regions [1, 2]. Because the Arctic has warmed considerably during the recent decades and because climate models predict accelerated warming if global greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise, it is debated whether shallow Arctic hydrate deposits could be destabilized in the near future [3, 4]. Methane (CH4), a greenhouse gas with a global warming potential about 25 times higher than CO2, could be released from the melting hydrates and enter the water column and atmosphere with uncertain consequences for the environment. Here we present the results of a recent comprehensive study of the future fate of Arctic methane hydrates [5]. Our multi-disciplinary analysis provides a closer look into regional developments of submarine Arctic gas hydrate deposits under future global warming scenarios and reveals where and over which time scales gas hydrates could be destabilized and affect oceanic pH, oxygen, and atmospheric methane. Arctic bottom water temperatures and their future evolution are projected by a climate model. Predicted bottom water warming is spatially inhomogeneous, with strongest impact on shallow regions affected by Atlantic inflow. Within the next 100 years, the warming affects 25% of shallow and mid-depth regions (water depth < 600 m) containing methane hydrates. We have quantified methane release from melting hydrates using transient models resolving the change in stability zone thickness. Due to slow heat diffusion rates, the change in stability zone thickness over the next 100 years is small and methane release limited. Even if these methane emissions were to reach the atmosphere, their climatic impact would be negligible as a climate model run confirms. However, the released methane, if dissolved into the water column, may contribute to ocean acidification and oxygen depletion in the water column.
[1] Hester, K.C. and P.G. Brewer, Clathrate Hydrates in Nature. Annual Review of Marine Science, 2009. 1: p. 303-327.
[2] Buffett, B.A. and D. Archer, Global inventory of methane clathrate: Sensitivity to changes in the deep ocean. Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 2004. 227: p. 185 - 199.
[3] Reagan, M.T. and G.J. Moridis, Oceanic gas hydrate instability and dissociation under climate change scenarios. 2007. 34: p. L22709.
[4] Kerr, R.A., 'Arctic Armageddon'Needs More Science, Less Hype. Science, 2010. 329: p. 620.
[5] Biastoch, A., et al., Rising Artic ocean temperatures cause gas hydrate destabilization and ocean acidification. Geophysical Research Letters, 2011. 38(L08602).

Document Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Talk)
Keywords: Meereswissenschaften; Gas hydrates; Marine chemistry; Meeresgeologie; Oceanography; Climatology; gas hydrate, ocean acidification, Arctic Ocean
Research affiliation: OceanRep > GEOMAR > FB4 Dynamics of the Ocean Floor > FB4-JRG-B3 Seabed Resources
OceanRep > GEOMAR > FB2 Marine Biogeochemistry > FB2-MG Marine Geosystems
OceanRep > GEOMAR > FB1 Ocean Circulation and Climate Dynamics > FB1-TM Theory and Modeling
OceanRep > GEOMAR > FB1 Ocean Circulation and Climate Dynamics > FB1-ME Maritime Meteorology
OceanRep > GEOMAR > FB1 Ocean Circulation and Climate Dynamics > FB1-PO Physical Oceanography
OceanRep > GEOMAR > FB2 Marine Biogeochemistry > FB2-BI Biological Oceanography
Date Deposited: 17 Apr 2012 06:38
Last Modified: 17 Jan 2013 13:07
URI: http://eprints.uni-kiel.de/id/eprint/14196

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