First calibrated methane bubble wintertime observations in the Siberian Arctic seas: selected results from the fast ice
This paper presents the results of an acoustic survey carried out from the fast ice in the shallow waters of the East Siberian Arctic Shelf (ESAS) using a single beam echosounder. The aim of this paper is to demonstrate an improved approach to study seafloor seepages in the Arctic coastal zone with an echosounder calibrated on site. During wintertime field observations of natural rising gas bubbles, we recorded three periods of their increased activity with a total of 63 short-term ejections of bubbles from the seabed. This study presents quantitative estimates of the methane (CH4 ) flux obtained in wintertime at two levels of the water column: (1) at the bottom/water interface and (2) at the water/sea ice interface. In winter, the flux of CH4 transported by rising bubbles to the bottom water in the shallow part of the ESAS was estimated at ~19 g·m−2 per day, while the flux reaching the water/sea ice interface was calculated as ~15 g·m−2 per day taking into account the diffusion of CH4 in the surrounding water and the enrichment of rising bubbles with nitrogen and oxygen. We suggest that this bubble-transported CH4 flux reaching the water /sea ice interface can be emitted into the atmosphere through numerous ice trenches, leads, and polynyas. This CH4 ebullition value detected at the water/sea ice interface is in the mid high range of CH4 ebullition value estimated for the entire ESAS, and two orders higher than the upper range of CH4 ebullition from the northern thermocarst lakes, which are considered as a significant source to the atmospheric methane budget.