A Study of Methanotropic Activity in the Beaufort Sea

 

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By Ben Stanford

Advised by Dr. Dean Kahl
presented 04 Nov 1996

Methane concentrations are currently rising at a rate of about 1% per year. Because methane plays an important role in the atmosphere as a greenhouse gas, it is extremely important that we identify possible methane sources and quantify their contribution to the Global Methane Budget. This research determined the fate of methane produces on the ocean floor in the Beaufort Sea of Alaska. Radiolabled carbon (C14) was used as a tracer to determine the amount of methane consumed by bacteria. The data from this experiment suggest that this area of the Beaufort Sea may be a seasonal source of methane to the atmosphere as the ice recedes during warmer months and the trapped methane is released. The data also suggest that there may be a clathrate in the area which is releasing methane into the water column.