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    What a way to start off the season! @UCSBMensSoccer tops No.5 Stanford 1-0 Friday. RECAP >>> http://t.co/gPhjHwqFP0 http://t.co/z7Z90RLG5D
    10 hours 38 min ago
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    The Gauchos start the 2015 season off in style, hold No. 8 Stanford scoreless to win 1-0. @UCSBMensSoccer first win over Stanford since 2004
    11 hours 48 min ago
  • UCSBgauchos twitter avatar
    Stanford trying desperately to get on the board but UCSB's backline can't be beat. Gauchos lead 1-0 with 5 minutes to go
    11 hours 55 min ago
  • UCSBgauchos twitter avatar
    Ahinga Selemani beats his defender to set up Geoffrey Acheampong beautifully in the box, but the lefty's shot goes wide of the post
    12 hours 21 min ago
  • UCSBgauchos twitter avatar
    Stanford with a pair of good chances with just under 30 minutes to go but UCSB still finds a way to keep them off the board and lead 1-0
    12 hours 27 min ago
  • UCSBgauchos twitter avatar
    .@UCSBMensSoccer leading No. 8 Stanford 1-0 at the half thanks to a goal by who else, Nick DePuy. Great first half for the Gauchos
    12 hours 55 min ago
  • UCSBgauchos twitter avatar
    GOAL! Seo-In Kim sends a cross far post and Nick DePuy heads it in to put the Gauchos up 1-0 with 3 minutes left in the half
    13 hours 3 min ago
  • UCSBgauchos twitter avatar
    Women's Soccer: San Jose State 1, UC Santa Barbara 1 (Final - 2OT) UCSB, San Jose State Battle to 1-1 Tie http://t.co/KolrGPE4AY
    13 hours 15 min ago
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    Big save by Vom Steeg to keep the game scoreless! 25 min left in 1st half @UCSBMensSoccer
    13 hours 27 min ago
  • UCSBgauchos twitter avatar
    Stanford has the advantage in the run of play through 10 minutes but it's still 0-0. @UCSBMensSoccer
    13 hours 36 min ago
  • UCSBgauchos twitter avatar
    WVB: UCSB Opens Season with Back-to-Back Sweeps! #GoGauchos http://t.co/yye1PtugDW
    14 hours 4 min ago
  • UCSBgauchos twitter avatar
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    14 hours 4 min ago
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    14 hours 12 min ago
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    14 hours 21 min ago
  • UCSBgauchos twitter avatar
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    14 hours 55 min ago

Scientists Find Good News About Methane Bubbling Up From the Ocean Floor Near Santa Barbara

Thursday, December 20, 2007 - 16:00
Santa Barbara, CA

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Methane bubbles escaping from the ocean floor.

Photo Credit: 

David Valentine

Methane, a potent greenhouse gas, is emitted in great quantities as bubbles from seeps on the ocean floor near Santa Barbara. About half of these bubbles dissolve into the ocean, but the fate of this dissolved methane remains uncertain. Researchers at the University of California, Santa Barbara have discovered that only one percent of this dissolved methane escapes into the air –– good news for the Earth's atmosphere.

Coal Oil Point (COP), one of the world's largest and best studied seep regions, is located along the northern margin of the Santa Barbara Channel. Thousands of seep fields exist in the ocean bottom around the world, according to David Valentine, associate professor of Earth Science at UC Santa Barbara. Valentine along with other members of UCSB's seeps group studied the plume of methane bubbles that flows from the seeps at COP.

Their results will soon be published as the cover story in Volume 34 of Geophysical Research Letters. This research effort is the first time that the gas that dissolves and moves away from COP, the plume, has been studied.

The amount of methane release from COP seeps is around two million cubic feet per day, according to Valentine. About 100 barrels of oil oozes out of this area as well. Methane warms the Earth 23 times more than carbon dioxide when averaged over a century. Thus the fate of the methane bubbles from the seeps is an important environmental question.

"We found that the ocean has an amazing capacity to take up methane that is released into it –– even when it is released into shallow water," said Valentine. "Huge amounts of gas are coming up here, creating a giant gas plume. Until now, no one had measured the gas that dissolves and moves away, the plume."

Valentine hypothesized that the methane is oxidized by microbial activity in the ocean, thus relieving the ocean of the methane "burden."

To arrive at this hypothesis, Valentine and lead author Susan Mau, a postdoctoral fellow in Valentine's lab, tracked the plume down current from the seeps at 79 surface stations in a 280 square kilometer study area. They found that the methane plume spread over 70 square kilometers.

By boat, the authors sampled the water on a monthly basis.

They found variable methane concentrations that corresponded with changes in surface currents. They also found that more wind releases more methane into the atmosphere. Overall, they discovered that about one percent of the dissolved methane escapes into the atmosphere in the area they studied, a long-term average. This lead the authors to hypothesize that most of the methane is transported below the ocean's surface –– away from the seep area. Then it is oxidized by microbial activity.

To back up their findings of their surface sampling of the water, the scientists used a mass spectrometer hauled behind the boat as well. This equipment allowed for very high-resolution chemical information about the methane. This effort showed no significant difference in the numbers.

"We showed that the currents control the fate of the gas and supply it to bacteria in a way that allows them to destroy the methane," said Valentine.

Valentine said that while the seeps at COP are among the largest in the world, they can be found just about anywhere.

After reading this article I feel