Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

International expedition investigates climate change, alternative fuels in Arctic

Date:
November 23, 2009
Source:
Naval Research Laboratory
Summary:
Biogeochemistry and geology and geophysics scientists have returned from Arctic expedition exploring methane hydrate deposits in the Beaufort Sea and spatial variation of sediment contribution to Arctic climate change.

Having the potential to provide a clean and abundant fuel alternative, deposits of methane hydrates -- frozen mixtures of hydrocarbon gas (mostly methane) and water -- occur over large areas of the ocean floor.
Credit: US Geological Society

Scientists from the Marine Biogeochemistry and Geology and Geophysics sections of the Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) organized and led a team of university and government scientists on an Arctic expedition to initiate methane hydrate exploration in the Beaufort Sea and determine the spatial variation of sediment contribution to Arctic climate change.

Utilizing the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Polar Sea as a research platform, three cross-shelf transects were surveyed and sampled off Alaska's North Slope at Hammerhead, Thetis Island and Halkett representing three regions of the Alaskan shelf. The expedition integrated expertise in coastal geophysics, sediment geochemistry, dissolved and free methane fluxes through the water column and into the atmosphere, sediment and water column microbiology and biogeochemistry and detailed characterization of the sub-seafloor geology.

"The objective of the sampling is to help determine variations in the shallow sediment and water column methane sources, methane cycling and the subsequent flux to the atmosphere," said Richard Coffin, chief scientist, NRL Chemistry Division.

The content, location and distribution of methane in hydrate is variable and controlled by geothermal gradients and biological and thermal methane production. Large deposits of methane hydrates, frozen mixtures of hydrocarbon gas (mostly methane) and water, occur over large areas of the ocean floor. International research has begun with a primary goal of obtaining the methane in these hydrates as an energy source.

During the 12-day expedition, Methane In The Arctic Shelf and Slope (MITAS-1), the crew conducted 34 conductivity-temperature-depth (CTD) water column casts using a rosette of Niskin bottles and collected sediment samples from 14 piston cores, three vibrocores and 20 multicores. Regions selected for this study were based on the review of Minerals Management Service and U.S. Geologic Survey (USGS) seismic data with specific sample locations decided onboard through review of the 3.5 Kilohertz (kHz) sub-bottom profiler data.

The MITAS-1 crew focused on six primary goals to include:

  • Acquire and integrate seismic, acoustic, temperature, geochemical, and lithostratigraphic data for evaluation of deep sediment hydrate distributions.
  • Estimate spatial variation and controls on the vertical methane flux as it relates to variations in lithostratigraphy, geologic structures, water column temperatures, heat flow, seismic and acoustic profiles, and water depth.
  • Develop and calibrate models to evaluate sediment hydrate loading, hydrate destabilization through warming, and the fate of methane after destabilization.
  • Determine and model the transport of methane from the sediment through the water column into the atmosphere.
  • Study the control of total methane emissions by microbial methane consumption in the sediment and in the water column.
  • Study the contribution of methane to the benthic and pelagic carbon cycling.

The expedition was supported by NRL, Office of Naval Research (ONR), Department of Energy (DoE), Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research (NIOZ), French Research Institute for Exploitation of the Sea (IFREMER) and the German Leibniz Institute of Marine Sciences (IFM-Geomar). Future expeditions will also include scientists from Scotland's Herriot-Watt University, Norway's University of Bergen and GNS Science of New Zealand.

"Our project is intended to initiate a long-term collaboration in future expeditions in the Beaufort Sea and other regions of the Arctic Ocean," said Coffin.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Naval Research Laboratory. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Naval Research Laboratory. "International expedition investigates climate change, alternative fuels in Arctic." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 23 November 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/11/091122095413.htm>.
Naval Research Laboratory. (2009, November 23). International expedition investigates climate change, alternative fuels in Arctic. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 24, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/11/091122095413.htm
Naval Research Laboratory. "International expedition investigates climate change, alternative fuels in Arctic." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/11/091122095413.htm (accessed July 24, 2014).

Share This




More Earth & Climate News

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Observation Boat to Protect Cetaceans During Ship Transfer

Observation Boat to Protect Cetaceans During Ship Transfer

AFP (July 22, 2014) As part of the 14-ship convoy that will accompany the Costa Concordia from the port of Giglio to the port of Genoa, there will be a boat carrying experts to look out for dolphins and whales from crossing the path of the Concordia. Duration: 01:02 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
New Orleans Plans to Recycle Cigarette Butts

New Orleans Plans to Recycle Cigarette Butts

AP (July 21, 2014) New Orleans is the first U.S. city to participate in a large-scale recycling effort for cigarette butts. The city is rolling out dozens of containers for smokers to use when they discard their butts. (July 21) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Shark Sightings a Big Catch for Cape Tourism

Shark Sightings a Big Catch for Cape Tourism

AP (July 21, 2014) A rise in shark sightings along the shores of Chatham, Massachusetts is driving a surge of eager vacationers to the beach town looking to catch a glimpse of a great white. (July 21) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Spectacular Lightning Storm Hits London

Spectacular Lightning Storm Hits London

AFP (July 19, 2014) A spectaCular lightning storm struck the UK overnight Friday. Images of lightning strikes over the Shard and Tower Bridge in central London. Duration: 00:23 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins