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We combine state-of-the-art marine geophysics with high-resolution ice sheet modelling, to providing extraordinary insight into the long-term variability of methane storage and release forced by glacial advance and retreat over the past 2.7 million years.

About

Today, vast quantities of methane are sequestered as shallow gas hydrates across the Barents Sea shelf. Deep thermogenic sources continually feed these gas hydrate reservoirs, which exist within a narrow envelope of temperature and pressure conditions determined by the gas hydrate stability zone (GHSZ). We propose that these hydrate reservoirs were much thicker and more extensive during the extreme conditions of past ice ages, when the growth of massive ice sheets created persistently high pressure and low temperature subglacial regimes.

Our goal is to provide new information and improve our understanding of the role of ice ages in driving the variability of methane release in the Arctic during the last 2.7 million years. Close collaboration of modelling expertise with partners at ARCEx, UiT and Equinor enable us to constrain and address questions on how hydrocarbon systems in the Barents Sea evolved and responded to multiple phases of glacial loading and erosion, and how former Arctic ice sheets reacted to extreme transitions in ocean and climate forcing. These empirical and model-based insights are crucial to improving the prediction of present and future greenhouse gas release from beneath today’s Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets.

Main questions

  • How do ice sheets affect fluid flow and gas hydrate systems?
  • How does the thickness, extent and volume of gas hydrates change through the ice ages?
  • What impact did glaciations have on the Arctic environment

Major aims

  • Determine, through modelling and empirical observations, the key processes and feedbacks between gas hydrates, fluid flow and ice sheet glaciation.
  • Model the long-term impact of past glacial cycles on the Eurasian Arctic, both within and beyond formerly ice-covered regions.
  • Isolate critical subglacial controls on past ice sheet and ice stream behaviour and dynamics.
  • Develop stratigraphic and environmental frameworks for key CAGE study areas.