EGU General Assembly 2020
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Cold seep hibernation in the Arctic sediments during cold bottom water conditions

Bénédicte Ferré1, Pär G. Jansson1, Manuel Mosser1, Pavel Serov1, Alexey Portnov1,2, Carolyn Graves3,4, Giuliana Panieri1, Friederike Gründger1, Christian Berndt5, Moritz Lehmann6, and Helge Niemann1,6,7
Bénédicte Ferré et al.
  • 1University of Tromsø, CAGE, Institute of Geosciences, Tromsoe, Norway (
  • 2School of Earth Sciences, The Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio 43210, USA.
  • 3Baltic Sea Research Institute, IOW, 18119 Rostock-Warnemuende, Germany
  • 4Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (Cefas), Lowestoft, Suffolk, NR33 0HT, UK
  • 5GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel, 24148 Kiel, Germany
  • 6Department of Environmental Science, University of Basel, 4056 Basel, Switzerland
  • 7NIOZ Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research, Department of Marine Microbiology & Biogeochemistry, and Utrecht University, 1797 SZ 't Horntje, the Netherlands

Large amounts of methane are trapped within gas hydrate in sub-seabed sediments in the Arctic Ocean, and bottom-water warming may induce the release of methane from the seafloor. Yet, the effect of seasonal temperature variations on methane seepage activity remains unknown, as surveys in Arctic seas are mainly conducted in summer. Here, we compare the activity of cold seeps along the gas hydrate stability limit offshore Svalbard during cold (May 2016) and warm (August 2012) seasons. Hydro-acoustic surveys revealed a substantially decreased seepage activity during cold bottom-water conditions, corresponding to a 43 % reduction of total cold seeps and methane release rates compared to warmer conditions. We demonstrate that cold seeps hibernate during cold seasons, when more methane gas becomes trapped in the sub-seabed sediments. Such a greenhouse gas capacitor increases the potential for methane release during summer months. Seasonal bottom-water temperature variations are common on the Arctic continental shelves. We infer that methane-seep hibernation is a widespread phenomenon that is underappreciated in global methane budgets, leading to overestimates in current calculations.

This research is part of the Centre for Arctic Gas Hydrate, Environment and Climate (CAGE) and is supported by the Research Council of Norway through its Centres of Excellence funding scheme grant No. 223259 and UiT.

How to cite: Ferré, B., Jansson, P. G., Mosser, M., Serov, P., Portnov, A., Graves, C., Panieri, G., Gründger, F., Berndt, C., Lehmann, M., and Niemann, H.: Cold seep hibernation in the Arctic sediments during cold bottom water conditions, EGU General Assembly 2020, Online, 4–8 May 2020, EGU2020-4919,, 2020


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