Instruments at the Ocean Networks Canada study sites in Barkley Canyon on the continental slope indicate high concentrations of gas hydrates at and beneath the seafloor. If seawater temperatures warm, these hydrates will sublimate (transform from solid phase to gas), permitting methane—a potent greenhouse gas—to escape from the seafloor into the ocean and potentially into the atmosphere.
Measurements of methane at 870 m are collected by Wally, an Internet-controlled seafloor crawler connected to the Barkley Canyon hydrates instrument platform by a 70 m tether. Combined with current meter measurements, these data indicate that methane release increases when bottom currents strengthen, such as during storms, which may be increasing in frequency due to climate change.
See also the Gas Hydrate Working Group page.
To learn more, contact staff scientist Martin Scherwath.