• Detecting Methane Ebullition In Winter From Alaskan Lakes Using Synthetic Aperture Radar Remote Sensing

      Engram, Melanie J.; Walter, Katey (2012)
      Methane (CH4) is a greenhouse gas with a high radiative forcing attribute, yet large uncertainties remain in constraining atmospheric CH4 sources and sinks. While freshwater lakes are known atmospheric CH4 sources, flux through ebullition (bubbling) is difficult to quantify in situ due to uneven spatial distribution and temporally irregular gas eruptions. This heterogeneous distribution of CH4 ebullition also creates error when scaling up field measurements for flux estimations. This thesis reviews estimates of CH4 contribution to the atmosphere by freshwater lakes presented in current literature and identifies knowledge gaps and the logistical difficulties in sampling CH 4 flux via ebullition (bubbling). My research investigates various imaging parameters of space-borne synthetic aperture radar (SAR) to constrain current CH4 emissions from northern lakes. In a GIS spatial analysis of lakes on the northern Seward Peninsula, Alaska, comparing field data of ebullition to SAR, I found that SAR L-band backscatter from lake ice was high from lakes with CH4 bubbles trapped by lake ice and low from lakes with low ebullition activity. The 'roughness' component of a Pauli polarimetric decomposition of quad-pol SAR showed a significant correlation with the percentage of lake ice area containing CH4 bubbles and with CH4 ebullition flux. This indicates that the mechanism of SAR scattering from ebullition bubbles trapped by lake ice is single bounce. I conclude that SAR remote sensing could improve our ability to quantify lake ebullition at larger spatial scales than field measurements alone, could offer between-lake comparison of CH 4 ebullition activity, and is a potential tool for developing regional estimations of lake-source CH4.