Is the extent of glaciation limited by marine gas-hydrates?

Geophysical Research Letters
By: , and 

Links

Abstract

Methane may have been released to the atmosphere during the Quaternary from Arctic shelf gas-hydrates as a result of thermal decomposition caused by climatic warming and rising sea-level; this release of methane (a greenhouse gas) may represent a positive feedback on global warming [Revelle, 1983; Kvenvolden, 1988a; Nisbet, 1990]. We consider the response to sea-level changes by the immense amount of gas-hydrate that exists in continental rise sediments, and suggest that the reverse situation may apply—that release of methane trapped in the deep-sea sediments as gas-hydrates may provide a negative feedback to advancing glaciation. Methane is likely to be released from deep-sea gas-hydrates as sea-level falls because methane gas-hydrates decompose with pressure decrease. Methane would be released to sediment pore space at shallow sub-bottom depths (100's of meters beneath the seafloor, commonly at water depths of 500 to 4,000 m) producing zones of markedly decreased sediment strength, leading to slumping [Carpenter, 1981; Kayen, 1988] and abrupt release of the gas. Methane is likely to be released to the atmosphere in spikes that become larger and more frequent as glaciation progresses. Because addition of methane to the atmosphere warms the planet, this process provides a negative feedback to glaciation, and could trigger deglaciation.

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Is the extent of glaciation limited by marine gas-hydrates?
Series title Geophysical Research Letters
DOI 10.1029/91GL00351
Volume 18
Issue 3
Year Published 1991
Language English
Publisher American Geophysical Union
Contributing office(s) Coastal and Marine Geology Program, Woods Hole Coastal and Marine Science Center
Description 3 p.
First page 432
Last page 434
Online Only (Y/N) N
Additional Online Files (Y/N) N
Google Analytic Metrics Metrics page
Additional metadata about this publication, not found in other parts of the page is in this table