Methane release and coastal environment in the East Siberian Arctic shelf

N. Shakhova, I. Semiletov

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

78 Citations (Scopus)


In this paper we present 2 years of data obtained during the late summer period (September 2003 and September 2004) for the East Siberian Arctic shelf (ESAS). According to our data, the surface layer of shelf water was supersaturated up to 2500% relative to the present average atmospheric methane content of 1.85 ppm, pointing to the rivers as a strong source of dissolved methane which comes from watersheds which are underlain with permafrost. Anomalously high concentrations (up to 154 nM or 4400% supersaturation) of dissolved methane in the bottom layer of shelf water at a few sites suggest that the bottom layer is somehow affected by near-bottom sources. The net flux of methane from this area of the East Siberian Arctic shelf can reach up to 13.7 × 104 g CH4 km- 2 from plume areas during the period of ice free water, and thus is in the upper range of the estimated global marine methane release. Ongoing environmental change might affect the methane marine cycle since significant changes in the thermal regime of bottom sediments within a few sites were registered. Correlation between calculated methane storage within the water column and both integrated salinity values (r = 0.61) and integrated values of dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC) (r = 0.62) suggest that higher concentrations of dissolved methane were mostly derived from the marine environment, likely due to in-situ production or release from decaying submarine gas hydrates deposits. The calculated late summer potential methane emissions tend to vary from year to year, reflecting most likely the effect of changing hydrological and meteorological conditions (temperature, wind) on the ESAS rather than riverine export of dissolved methane. We point out additional sources of methane in this region such as submarine taliks, ice complex retreat, submarine permafrost itself and decaying gas hydrates deposits.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)227-243
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Marine Systems
Issue number1-4
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2007
Externally publishedYes


  • East Siberian Arctic shelf
  • Marine methane cycle
  • Methane flux
  • Methane plumes
  • Methane storage

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oceanography
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Aquatic Science

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