Ideas and perspectives: A strategic assessment of methane and nitrous oxide measurements in the marine environment

Samuel T. Wilson1, Alia N. Al-Haj2, Annie Bourbonnais3, Claudia Frey4, Robinson W. Fulweiler2,5, John D. Kessler6, Hannah K. Marchant7, Jana Milucka7, Nicholas E. Ray5, Parv Suntharalingham8, Brett F. Thornton9, Robert C. Upstill-Goddard10, Thomas S. Weber6, Damian L. Arévalo-Martínez11, Hermann W. Bange11, Heather M. Benway12, Daniele Bianchi13, Alberto V. Borges14, Bonnie X. Chang15,16, Patrick M. Crill9, Daniela A. del Valle17, Laura Farías18, Samantha B. Joye19, Annette Kock11, Jabrane Labidi20, Cara C. Manning21,a, John W. Pohlman22, Gregor Rehder23, Katy J. Sparrow24, Philippe D. Tortell21, Tina Treude13,20, David L. Valentine25, Bess B. Ward26, Simon Yang13, and Leonid N. Yurganov27

1University of Hawai'i at Manoa, Daniel K. Inouye Center for Microbial Oceanography: Research and Education (C-MORE), Honolulu, Hawai'i, USA
2Department of Earth and Environment, Boston University, Boston, Massachusetts, USA
3University of South Carolina, School of the Earth, Ocean and Environment, Columbia, South Carolina, USA
4Department of Environmental Science, University of Basel, Basel, Switzerland
5Department of Biology, Boston University, Boston, Massachusetts, USA
6Department of Earth and Environmental Science, University of Rochester, Rochester, New York, USA
7Department of Biogeochemistry, Max Planck Institute for Marine Microbiology, Bremen, Germany
8School of Environmental Sciences, University of East Anglia, Norwich, UK
9Department of Geological Sciences and Bolin Centre for Climate Research, Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden
10School of Natural and Environmental Sciences, Newcastle University, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK
11GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel, Düsternbrooker Weg 20, 24105 Kiel, Germany
12Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Marine Chemistry and Geochemistry, Boston, Massachusetts, USA
13Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences, University of California Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California, USA
14University of Liège, Chemical Oceanography Unit, Liège, Belgium
15University of Washington, Joint Institute for the Study of the Atmosphere and Ocean, Seattle, Washington, USA
16National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory, Seattle, Washington, USA
17University of Southern Mississippi, Division of Marine Science, Hattiesburg, Mississippi, USA
18Department of Oceanography and Center for Climate Research and Resilience (CR2), University of Concepción, Concepción, Chile
19Department of Marine Sciences, Georgia, University of Georgia, Athens, USA
20Department of Earth, Planetary, and Space Sciences, University of California Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California, USA
21Department of Earth, Ocean and Atmospheric Sciences, University of British Columbia, British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada
22U.S. Geological Survey, Woods Hole Coastal and Marine Science Center, Woods Hole, USA
23Leibniz Institute for Baltic Sea Research Warnemünde, Rostock, Germany
24Department of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Science, Florida State University, Tallahassee, Florida, USA
25Department of Earth Science, University of California Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara, California, USA
26Geoscience Department, Princeton University, Princeton, New Jersey, USA
27Joint Center for Earth Systems Technology, University of Maryland Baltimore County, Baltimore, Maryland, USA
acurrent address: Plymouth Marine Laboratory, Plymouth, UK, 2020

In the current era of rapid climate change, accurate characterization of climate-relevant gas dynamics – namely production, consumption, and net emissions – is required for all biomes, especially those ecosystems most susceptible to the impact of change. Marine environments include regions that act as net sources or sinks for numerous climate-active trace gases including methane (CH4) and nitrous oxide (N2O). The temporal and spatial distributions of CH4 and N2O are controlled by the interaction of complex biogeochemical and physical processes. To evaluate and quantify how these mechanisms affect marine CH4 and N2O cycling requires a combination of traditional scientific disciplines including oceanography, microbiology, and numerical modeling. Fundamental to these efforts is ensuring that the datasets produced by independent scientists are comparable and interoperable. Equally critical is transparent communication within the research community about the technical improvements required to increase our collective understanding of marine CH4 and N2O. A workshop sponsored by Ocean Carbon and Biogeochemistry (OCB) was organized to enhance dialogue and collaborations pertaining to marine CH4 and N2O. Here, we summarize the outcomes from the workshop to describe the challenges and opportunities for near-future CH4 and N2O research in the marine environment.