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Response of the Black Sea methane budget to massive short-term submarine inputs of methane

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Author(s): O. Schmale | M. Haeckel | D. F. McGinnis

Journal: Biogeosciences
ISSN 1726-4170

Volume: 8;
Issue: 4;
Start page: 911;
Date: 2011;
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ABSTRACT
A steady state box model was developed to estimate the methane input into the Black Sea water column at various water depths. Our model results reveal a total input of methane of 4.7 Tg yr−1. The model predicts that the input of methane is largest at water depths between 600 and 700 m (7% of the total input), suggesting that the dissociation of methane gas hydrates at water depths equivalent to their upper stability limit may represent an important source of methane into the water column. In addition we discuss the effects of massive short-term methane inputs (e.g. through eruptions of deep-water mud volcanoes or submarine landslides at intermediate water depths) on the water column methane distribution and the resulting methane emission to the atmosphere. Our non-steady state simulations predict that these inputs will be effectively buffered by intense microbial methane consumption and that the upward flux of methane is strongly hampered by the pronounced density stratification of the Black Sea water column. For instance, an assumed input of methane of 179 Tg CH4 d−1 (equivalent to the amount of methane released by 1000 mud volcano eruptions) at a water depth of 700 m will only marginally influence the sea/air methane flux increasing it by only 3%.
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