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Our aim is to determine and understand the potential transport processes of hydrocarbon gasses from the seabed to the atmosphere through the water column. Various measurements, along with modelling analysis, provide the link between elevated methane concentrations and the reason for fluctuations.

About

The effects of methane release on underwater ecosystems and our global climate are still unclear. Methane transport in Arctic oceans takes place via bubbles or in dissolved form that originate from gas hydrates beneath the seabed and travel vertically towards the ocean surface. However, continuously shifting water dynamics due to changing seasons and other factors can limit vertical methane migration. By understanding the constant evolution of the ocean and the related variability of methane release on a time scale that ranges from hours to years, we can quantify local and regional methane leakages as well as methane transport in the water column over time. This ultimately helps us to determine what effect, if any, this methane has on underwater ecosystems and climate change.

To achieve this we use oceanography and geochemistry data obtained from the water column, as well as hydro-acoustic methods for detecting and measuring gas bubbles. Collaboration with UiB to use the ROV Ægir has allowed us to perform real time measurements at methane leakage sites in the Arctic Ocean and Barents Sea, providing unprecedented physical and chemical oceanographic measurements taken directly from the source.

Main questions

  • How much of the methane released from the seafloor reaches the upper water column and/or the atmosphere?
  • Over what horizontal and vertical distances do ocean currents transport methane plumes?
  • What is the variability of the methane release and what are the processes involved?
  • What are the interactions between the physical, chemical and biological processes that affect methane transport?
  • What is the effect of methane seeps on the Arctic Ocean biogeochemistry?

Major aims

  • Observe and model the transport of methane plumes.
  • Determine the amount of dissolved methane beneath the seafloor boundary layer.
  • Determine and model methane fluxes from the seafloor to the sea surface.
  • Determine physical and chemical boundary conditions of the bottom water that modify methane seep activities.
  • Investigate and compare water column biogeochemistry at and around active methane flares
Team members

Anna Silyakova
Researcher

Helge Niemann
Professor II

Knut Ola Dølven
PhD candidate

Manuel Moser
PhD candidate