Sources and Fluxes of Atmospheric Methane from Lakes in the Alaskan Arctic
Wednesday, 17 December 2014: 2:40 PM
Climate warming in the Arctic may result in release of carbon dioxide and/or methane from thawing permafrost soils, resulting in a positive feedback to warming. Permafrost thaw may also result in release of methane from previously trapped natural gas. The Arctic landscape is approximately 50% covered by shallow permafrost lakes, and these environments may serve as bellwethers for climate change – carbon cycle feedbacks, since permafrost thaw is generally deeper under lakes than tundra soils. Since 2011, the Circum-Arctic Lakes Observation Network (CALON) project has documented landscape-scale variability in physical and biogeochemical processes of Arctic lakes in permafrost terrain, including carbon cycle feedbacks to climate warming. Here we present a dataset of concentrations, isotope ratios (13C and 2H), and atmospheric fluxes of methane from lakes in Arctic Alaska. Concentrations of methane in lake water ranged from 0.3 to 43 micrograms per liter, or between 6 and 750 times supersaturated with respect to air. Isotopic measurements of dissolved methane indicated that most of the lakes had methane derived from anaerobic organic matter decomposition, but that some lakes may have a small source of methane from fossil fuel sources such as natural gas or coal beds. Concurrent measurements of methane fluxes and dissolved methane concentrations in summer of 2014 will aid in translating routine dissolved measurements into fluxes, and will also elucidate the relative importance of diffusive versus ebulliative fluxes. It is essential that measurements of methane emissions from Arctic lakes be continued long-term to determine whether methane emissions are on the rise, and whether warming of the lakes leads to increased venting of fossil fuel methane from enhanced thaw of permafrost beneath the lakes.