Water Resources Research Act Program

Details for Project ID 2016AK130B

Transport of CH4 through Open Taliks in Discontinuous Permafrost Aquifers

Institute: Alaska
Year Established: 2016 Start Date: 2016-03-01 End Date: 2017-02-28
Total Federal Funds: $17,889 Total Non-Federal Funds: $35,779

Principal Investigators: David Barnes

Abstract: Uncertainties in the budget of atmospheric methane (CH4), an important greenhouse gas released by thermokarst lakes, limit the accuracy of climate change projections. CH4 release from thermokarst lakes is typically considered to be solely derived from the lake and its talik (thaw bulb beneath the lake), while not accounting for the production, storage, and potential escape of CH4 beneath the permafrost. A rugged permafrost bottom is proposed to favor gas storage in hollow “pockets”. Methane can migrate to the lake bottom and ultimately to the lake surface by advection and diffusion as a dissolved gas and by movement as an immiscible fluid once a pathway from the pocket to an open talik underlying the lake forms. Release as an immiscible fluid may occur once an open talik forms or as the morphology of the permafrost bottom changes opening up pathways from a pocket to the open talik. We propose to investigate the potential of each transport mechanism. The proposed effort will strongly integrate with and complement a recently funded National Science Foundation project (ARCSS 1500931; 2015-2018), which pays the summer salary of MSc student Bridget Eckhardt. The funds from this proposal will support Ms. Eckhardt’s 2016 Fall semester salary, tuition and insurance, which are not covered by the existing NSF award. The proposed effort would allow Ms. Eckhardt to fully focus upon her course work and thesis research during her second year and ultimately speed-up the delivery of a quality product.