|Massive marine methane emissions from near-shore shallow coastal areas|Borges, A.V; Champenois, W.; Gypens, N.; Delille, B.; Harlay, J. (2016). Massive marine methane emissions from near-shore shallow coastal areas. NPG Scientific Reports 6(27908): 8 pp. hdl.handle.net/10.1038/srep27908
In: Scientific Reports (Nature Publishing Group). Nature Publishing Group: London. ISSN 2045-2322, more
Carbon cycle; Marine chemistry; Marine
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Methane is the second most important greenhouse gas contributing to climate warming. The open ocean is a minor source of methane to the atmosphere. We report intense methane emissions from the near-shore southern region of the North Sea characterized by the presence of extensive areas with gassy sediments. The average flux intensities (~130 µmol m-2 d-1) are one order of magnitude higher than values characteristic of continental shelves (~30µmol m-2 d-1) and three orders of magnitude higher than values characteristic of the open ocean (~0.4 µmol m-2 d-1). The high methane concentrations (up to 1,128 nmol L-1) that sustain these fluxes are related to the shallow and well-mixed water column that allows an efficient transfer of methane from the seafloor to surface waters. This differs from deeper and stratified seep areas where there is a large decrease of methane between bottom and surface by microbial oxidation or physical transport. Shallow well-mixed continental shelves represent about 33% of the total continental shelf area, so that marine coastal methane emissions are probably under-estimated. Near-shore and shallow seep areas are hot spots of methane emission, and our data also suggest that emissions could increase in response to warming of surface waters.