The major objective of this proof of concept study is to evaluate the contribution of Subterranean Groundwater Discharge (SGD) in the Arctic to the global methane budget. Methane is a potent greenhouse gas and large natural reservoirs exist in Arctic soils and permafrost. The working hypothesis is that methane released from thawing permafrost in the Arctic is transported via groundwater flow (above and below the permafrost layer) and enters the atmosphere via coastal waters and lakes. This source of methane may be realized as an important source of natural methane to the atmosphere and may provide a positive feedback to global warming. The objectives of the study are: 1) To estimate the magnitude of subterranean groundwater discharge and associated methane flux into lakes and coastal waters in Alaska at three representative sites. 2) To evaluate methane evasion rates from the water column to the atmosphere. 3) To determine if the contribution of methane input from subterranean groundwater discharge to the global methane budget is significant, and if so 4) To use the preliminary data to design a more through research plan that will enable precise estimates of fluxes and provide a basis for global extrapolation of results such that the contribution of this source to current and future climate changes and the global methane budget will be possible. The project will support a graduate student full time for two years. Undergraduate students in the ACCESS program and the California Alliance for Minority Participation in Science, Engineering and Mathematics program at UCSC will also participate in the proposed work. The PIs will work with COSEE Alaska to ntegrate this work in their outreach and education activities including teacher workshops, symposia, and work with local communities in Alaska.

National Science Foundation (NSF)
Division of Polar Programs (PLR)
Standard Grant (Standard)
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Henrietta N. Edmonds
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University of California Santa Cruz
Santa Cruz
United States
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