After a successful mid-way evaluation of the first phase of CAGE (2013 – 2017), we took over the Centre leadership in August 2017. Our Scientific Advisory Committee states at our last joint meeting in February 2023 that “the Centre has established itself internationally as the leading research group on topics related to gas hydrate, climate, glaciations and the linkages between past, present and future methane dynamics and geosphere-hydrosphere-atmosphere interactions”
Text by Professor Karin Andreassen (Director of CAGE), Associate Professor Monica Winsborrow and Dr. Jochen Knies (co-assistant directors)
Methane in the Arctic
Vast amounts of methane, a greenhouse gas far stronger than CO2 are trapped at shallow depths below the seafloor as gas hydrates, ice-like mixtures of gas and water. Current ocean warming makes these shallow methane reservoirs particularly vulnerable to thawing. CAGE has investigated the processes involved and implications for the Arctic climate and environment.
CAGE has integrated transdisciplinary research on methane reservoirs beneath the seafloor, conditions at the sea floor, in the water column and in the atmosphere. We have focused on enhanced understanding of the past and present, and developed models to predict future trajectories.
In numbers, our scientific staff and students have during the decade of CAGE produced 465 peer-reviewed scientific publications (62 of these in Nature and Science journals) and 33 book contributions, with contributions from 3502 scientists from over 45 different countries. The Centre has now an H-index of 50 and over 9230 citations. The success of our research builds on integrating state-of-the art empirical data with numerical modelling, and scientific collaborations with academic and industry partners.
Our location at the doorstep of the Barents Sea and access to the ice-going research vessels Helmer Hanssen and Kronprins Haakon have clearly been a strong advantage. CAGE has since its conception in 2013 led 69 scientific cruises with a cumulative ~2.5 years at sea, and we have continuously strived to use state-of-the-art technologies in data acquisition such as remotely operated vehicles, seabed- ocean-observatory networks, high-resolution 4D seismic surveys, drones and satellite images.
We have developed procedures to detect the amount of carbon stored in reservoirs of gas hydrate and free gas under the seafloor, the leakage from these carbon systems, their faith in water column and to monitor variations in gas flow with tidal and seasonal cycles and currents.
We have developed a toolbox to identify, understand, and date past methane leakage events, and we have highlighted the role of ice sheets in generating hotspots for exceptionally abundant natural seepages of gas and oil across Arctic continental shelves.
Although CAGE is history from 1st March 2023, large parts of CAGE infrastructure and research will continue and be further developed within the new Centre of Excellence, “Centre for ice, Cryosphere, Carbon and Climate – iC3”, which was recently awarded by the Research Council of Norway (RCN) to the Department of Geoscience (IG), UiT for 2023 – 2033. iC3 is led by the two CAGE scientists Jemma Wadham and Monica Winsborrow. In addition, several other research projects initiated by researchers of the Centre will continue within Department of Geoscience, UiT.
CAGE has educated 28 PhDs (14 Male/14 Female), and 69 Master students. Several young CAGE researchers have established their own research groups, with funding from The European Research Council (ERC), The Research Council of Norway (RCN) and Tromsø Research Foundation; two in Norway, two in France, and one in Sweden.
Efforts of CAGE scientists towards future scientific ocean drilling in the circum-Arctic succeeded in 2022. The last IODP science and security panels for our planned scientific drilling expeditions east of Greenland and northwest Svalbard were finally passed, and the planned Expedition #403 is now scheduled for summer 2024.
It has been a privilege to work within CAGE, it has been an amazing journey and a lot to learn. However, our scientific results would not have been possible without the generous funding from RCN and the support from UiT, the Faculty of Science and Technology and the Department of geosciences. We have further been blessed by having access to two fantastic ice-going research vessels, RV Helmer Hanssen and RV Kronprins Haakon. Finally, our largest resource has been the people working within CAGE; our PhD- and Master students, Postdoctoral fellows, Researchers, Professors, and the technical and administrative staff that have supported us. Thank you so much to you all!
Karin Andreassen Monica Winsborrow Jochen Knies