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Sunday, January 29, 2012

Dynamic response of oceanic hydrate deposits to ocean temperature change by Matthew T. Reagan & George J. Moridis, JGR 113 (2008); doi: 10.1029/2008JC004938

Journal of Geophysical Research, 113 (2008) C12023; doi: 10.1029/2008JC004938
Dynamic response of oceanic hydrate deposits to ocean temperature change
Matthew T. Reagan and George J. Moridis  (Earth Sciences Division, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Berkeley, CA, U.S.A.)

Vast quantities of methane are trapped in oceanic hydrate deposits. Because methane is a powerful greenhouse gas (about 26 times more effective than CO2), there is considerable concern that a rise in the temperature of the oceans will induce dissociation of oceanic hydrate accumulations, potentially releasing large amounts of carbon into the atmosphere. Such a release could have dramatic climatic consequences because it could amplify atmospheric and oceanic warming and possibly accelerate dissociation of the remaining hydrates. This study assesses the stability of three types of hydrates (case I, deep-ocean deposits; case II, shallow, warm deposits; and case III, shallow, cold deposits) and simulates the dynamic behavior of these deposits under the influence of moderate ocean temperature increases. The results indicate that deep-ocean hydrates are stable under the influence of moderate increases in ocean temperature; however, shallow deposits can be very unstable and release significant quantities of methane under the influence of as little as 1 °C of seafloor temperature increase. Less permeable sediments, or burial underneath layers of hydrate-free sediment, affect both the rate of hydrate dissociation and methane transport to the seafloor but may not prevent methane release. Higher-saturation deposits can produce larger methane fluxes with the thermodynamics of hydrate dissociation retarding the rate of recession of the upper hydrate interface. These results suggest possible worst case scenarios for climate-change-induced methane release and point toward the need for detailed assessment of the hydrate hazard and the coupling of hydrate-derived methane to regional and global ecosystems.
Received 30 May 2008; accepted 13 October 2008; published 24 December 2008.
Citation: Reagan, M. T., and G. J. Moridis (2008), Dynamic response of oceanic hydrate deposits to ocean temperature changeJ. Geophys. Res.113, C12023, doi: 10.1029/2008JC004938.

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