1 Department of Bioscience - Arctic Research Centre, Department of Bioscience, Science and Technology, Aarhus University2 unknown3 Department of Bioscience - Arctic Research Centre, Department of Bioscience, Science and Technology, Aarhus University
We report on methane (CH4) dynamics in landfast sea ice, brine and under-ice seawater at Barrow in 2009. The CH4 concentrations in under-ice water ranged between 25.9 and 116.4 nmol L−1sw, indicating a superaturation of 700 to 3100% relative to the atmosphere. In comparison, the CH4 concentrations in ice, ranged between 3.4 and 17.2 nmol L−1ice, and the deduced CH4 concentrations in brine, between 13.2 and 677.7 nmol L−1br. We investigated on the processes explaining the difference in CH4 concentrations between sea ice, brine and the under-ice water, and suggest that two physical processes regulated the storage of CH4 in sea ice: bubble formation and sea ice permeability. Gas bubble formation from solubility changes had favoured the accumulation of CH4 in the ice at the beginning of ice growth. CH4 retention in sea ice was then twice as efficient as that of salt; this also explains the overall higher CH4 concentrations in brine than in the under-ice water. As sea ice thickened, gas bubble formation became less efficient so that CH4 was then mainly trapped in the dissolved state. The increase of sea ice permeability during ice melt marks the end of CH4 storage.