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Methane and nitrous oxide in surface water along the North-West Passage, Arctic Ocean

Vassilis Kitidis Leif G. Anderson R ...see all

Marine Chemistry (2010)

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Abstract

Dissolved methane and nitrous oxide in seawater were measured along a 6700 km transect of the North-West Passage between the North Atlantic Ocean and Beaufort Sea in the Arctic Ocean. Over- and under-saturation with respect to atmospheric equilibrium were observed for both gases. Methane and nitrous oxide were in the range of 58–528% and 82–181% saturation, respectively. Under-saturation was attributed to melt-water with low methane and nitrous oxide, while over-saturation was found under multi-year sea-ice. Elevated methane was also found in the vicinity of the marginal ice zones and the Mackenzie River plume. Our data support both water column and sedimentary sources of methane and nitrous oxide. We found first-order methane oxidation in surface seawater with a rate constant of 3.8 × 10−3 h−1. Based on these results and a conceptual model, we suggest that future sea-ice retreat may decrease the residence times of methane and nitrous oxide in the surface Arctic Ocean and thus enhance the sea–air flux of these climatically active gases.

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Authors

  • Robert C Upstill-Goddard Vassilis Kitidis Leif G. Anderson

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