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Data and calculations to support the study of the sea-air flux of methane and carbon dioxide on the West Spitsbergen margin in June 2014

March 29, 2017

A critical question for assessing global greenhouse gas budgets is how much of the methane that escapes from seafloor cold seep sites to the overlying water column eventually crosses the sea-air interface and reaches the atmosphere. The issue is particularly important in Arctic Ocean waters since rapid warming there increases the likelihood that gas hydrate--an ice-like form of methane and water stable at particular pressure and temperature conditions within marine sediments--will break down and release its methane to the overlying ocean. Some researchers have even proposed the possibility of an Arctic methane catastrophe characterized by wholesale breakdown of gas hydrates in marine sediments and release of the methane to the atmosphere as climate warms. This dataset collected on the West Spitsbergen margin during U.S. Geological Survey Coastal and Marine Geology Program Field Activity 2014-013-FA, which was carried out in conjunction with the University of Tromso and the GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel on the R/V Helmer Hanssen, records 30-second-gridded methane and carbon dioxide concentrations in near-surface seawater and the atmospheric marine boundary layer, the carbon-13 isotopic composition of methane and carbon dioxide in the near-surface waters, and also environmental parameters (e.g., seawater salinity, wind speed, water and air temperatures). The results of calculations required to determine the sea-air flux of methane and carbon dioxide are also provided.