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Free Content A model of methane concentration profiles in the open ocean

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Methane-bearing particulate matter formed in the upper ocean layer is allowed to settle and degrade, releasing methane into the water column as a source in one-dimensional advection-diffusion equations. Predicted carbon and methane particulate fluxes are in good agreement with sediment trap data, using parameters of expected magnitude and particulate methane production well within the mixed layer. This suggests a rapid pathway to the atmosphere and reduced effects on methane concentrations below. Vertical advection rates yielding a good fit between methane concentration calculations and data are larger than expected unless methane oxidation is included. This confirms the significance of methane oxidation in shaping open-ocean methane concentration profiles in spite of turnover times of decades. Predictions of the isotopic composition of dissolved methane 13 C with the one-dimensional model are more difficult, although trends in measured vertical profiles can be reproduced. While this work does not shed light on the purported mechanism of methane generation in the upper ocean, it shows that methane of particulate origin is sufficient to explain observed open-ocean methane concentrations.

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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: July 1, 2006

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  • The Journal of Marine Research, one of the oldest journals in American marine science, publishes peer-reviewed research articles covering a broad array of topics in physical, biological and chemical oceanography. Articles that deal with processes, as well as those that report significant observations, are welcome. Biological studies involving coupling between ecological and physical processes are preferred over those that report systematics. The editors strive always to serve authors and readers in the academic oceanographic community by publishing papers vital to the marine research in the long and rich tradition of the Sears Foundation for Marine Research. We welcome you to the Journal of Marine Research.
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