Articles | Volume 5, issue 4
05 Aug 2008
 | 05 Aug 2008

Methane emissions from the upwelling area off Mauritania (NW Africa)

A. Kock, S. Gebhardt, and H. W. Bange

Abstract. Coastal upwelling regions have been identified as sites of enhanced CH4 emissions to the atmosphere. The coastal upwelling area off Mauritania (NW Africa) is one of the most biologically productive regions of the world's ocean but its CH4 emissions have not been quantified so far. More than 1000 measurements of atmospheric and dissolved CH4 in the surface layer in the upwelling area off Mauritania were performed as part of the German SOPRAN (Surface Ocean Processes in the Anthropocene) study during two cruises in March/April 2005 (P320/1) and February 2007 (P348). During P348 enhanced CH4 saturations of up to 200% were found close to the coast and were associated with upwelling of South Atlantic Central Water. An area-weighted, seasonally adjusted estimate yielded overall annual CH4 emissions in the range from 1.6 to 2.9 Gg CH4. Thus the upwelling area off Mauritania represents a regional hot spot of CH4 emissions but seems to be of minor importance for the global oceanic CH4 emissions.

Final-revised paper