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Open access

There are currently a couple of papers from the MAMM project under open review. This means that anyone can access them, and anyone can review then and post their comments! Once the review process is over, if any issues are addressed and the official reviewers are happy, the papers are published fully. They are still free to access, although there are no comments on the final papers.

Check them out (and review them if you like!) here:

O’Shea, S. J., Allen, G., Gallagher, M. W., Bower, K., Illingworth, S. M., Muller, J. B. A., Jones, B., Percival, C. J., Bauguitte, S. J-B., Cain, M., Warwick, N., Quiquet, A., Skiba, U., Drewer, J., Dinsmore, K., Nisbet, E. G., Lowry, D., Fisher, R. E., France, J. L., Aurela, M., Lohila, A., Hayman, G., George, C., Clark, D., Manning, A. J., Friend, A. D., and Pyle, J.: Methane and carbon dioxide fluxes and their regional scalability for the European Arctic wetlands during the MAMM project in summer 2012, Atmos. Chem. Phys. Discuss., 14, 8455-8494, doi:10.5194/acpd-14-8455-2014, 2014.

Allen, G., Illingworth, S. M., O’Shea, S. J., Newman, S., Vance, A., Bauguitte, S. J.-B., Marenco, F., Kent, J., Bower, K., Gallagher, M. W., Muller, J., Percival, C. J., Harlow, C., Lee, J., and Taylor, J. P.: Atmospheric composition and thermodynamic retrievals from the ARIES airborne TIR-FTS system – Part 2: Validation and results from aircraft campaigns, Atmos. Meas. Tech. Discuss., 7, 3397-3441, doi:10.5194/amtd-7-3397-2014, 2014.


A slightly delayed post about Sunday’s flights, as we were all travelling home yesterday!

18th August 2013 – morning flight

Today marks the end of the August flying campaign for MAMM, a whilst there will be a transit back to the UK tomorrow (as well as hopefully some methane measurements over the off shore oil rigs in the North Sea), today’s flights are the last to be making methane measurements over the Arctic wetlands.

As the Blue Team began their morning flight things didn’t look to great weather-wise, and it was feared that we wouldn’t get the opportunity to descend through the cloud layer to make the necessary low level measurements. However, the pilots spotted a gap in the clouds just North of the Gulf of Bothnia and took us down. From there the weather kept on getting better, and there was a sufficient break in the cloud layer to enable us to add an additional leg to the flight plan, making box measurements over the Total Carbon Column Observing Network (TCCON) site in Sodankylä, Finland, which will be used for intercomparison work.

This was an excellent example of superb communication between the instrument scientists, the mission scientists, and the pilots, which meant that we were able to adapt our original aims to take advantage of the conditions. It was of course further proof that the Blue/Azure/Green team were top dog (although the help that we received from Red Team in terms of coordinating with the TCCON site to inform them of our intended flight path was also vital to our success, and definitely deserves a mention, albeit grudgingly and definitely in parenthesis).

–Dr Sam Illingworth, University of Manchester

18th August 2013 – afternoon flight

As the Red Team member who was co-ordinating with the Blue Team during their flight, I must emphasise the crucial role I played in using the chat room to keep up to date with the Blue Team and their new plans, and then making a phone call to the TCCON site manager. Yes, that was about all I did, and I feel very proud of myself.

As I write this (on Monday afternoon), on a commercial flight home, the ARA will be flying around gas fields in the North Sea, and will then fly over East Anglia to hopefully sample some agricultural or landfill emissions. That will be the final flight for this campaign, until our next one in September. But back to yesterday afternoon’s flight, which followed on from the surprise hit that was the morning flight. Coming off the aircraft, the Blue Team were positively glowing with excitement at how well it had gone. We could not be out done, so we were determined to see ours through as well as we possibly could.

I was wearing my Michelle “Sticks to the Plan” Cain t-shirt (from a previous campaign), and that is pretty much what we did. And it worked very well too. We flew the same path as the morning’s flight (except for the TCCON part), and I think we saw the build up of methane form the day’s wetland emissions. Until we have calibrated the methane measurements, we won’t know if this is the case, but from the information we have so far, we think there was more methane in the afternoon. We should then be able to work out how much was added to the atmosphere over the course of the day, which is one of the project’s aims.

The University of Lund's Sky Arrow, getting ready for take off. (Photo credit: Michelle Cain.)

The University of Lund’s Sky Arrow, getting ready for take off. (Photo credit: Michelle Cain.)

The University of Lund’s Sky Arrow also flew today. They took off shortly after us, and flew the first section of our flight plan. The Sky Arrow is a lightweight aircraft, with room for the pilot and either one other person, or some kit to make measurements. Clearly, they took the latter! They also flew over to Abisko, where we have some ground measurements ongoing. We are all keen to find out what their measurements are and how they compare to our own.

Overall, I felt that this was a great day to end on — for me at least, some others are still out there! In between the two flights, we gathered everyone who was around to have a group photo, so we will all have a little reminder of the campaign.

–Dr Michelle Cain, University of Cambridge

Most of the August detachment MAMM team, on the last full day of flying. (Photo credit: John Pyle.)

Most of the August detachment MAMM team, on the last full day of flying. Don’t despair — we’ll be back in September! (Photo credit: John Pyle.)

“Hey there mister blue, we’re so pleased to be with you. Look around see what you do, everybody smiles at you”

During the (all too rapidly) approaching August and September MAMM flight campaigns I’ll be working as a mission scientist, a fascinating role that involves flight planning, communicating between the pilots and the instrument scientists, and evaluating meteorological forecasts. Depending on the type of science that is being conducted, the weather can play a great part in deciding which particular flight patterns are able to be conducted on which particular days, and as such it is imperative that we are provided with not only up-to-the-minute weather maps, but also with accurate medium to long range forecasts of what the atmospheric conditions will be like throughout the duration of the campaign.

Speaking with my ‘mission scientist’ hat on it would be great if we got lots of dry and cloud-free days, as these are perfect flying conditions that would allow us to fly near to the surface, where most of the interesting methane related chemistry is taking place. Speaking with my ‘dramatic postdoctoral researcher’ hat on it would be disastrous if we didn’t get lots of dry and cloud-free days, as these are the only conditions in which the data from the instrument that I do most of my work with, the Airborne Research Interferometer Evaluation System (ARIES), is useable in my research.

Predicted cloud cover for midday on 14th August 2013. Data courtesy of the Finnish Meteorological Institute ( Source: “Kiruna.” 67°49'28.88"N, 20°20'22.94"E. Google Earth.  April 10, 2013. August 13, 2013.

Predicted cloud cover for midday on 14th August 2013. Data courtesy of the Finnish Meteorological Institute ( Source: “Kiruna.” 67°49’28.88″N, 20°20’22.94″E. Google Earth. April 10, 2013. August 13, 2013.

ARIES makes measurements of the upwelling radiance (heat) detected at the FAAM aircraft, which is a combination of the radiance emitted by the Earth and that emitted by the atmosphere, as well as a small amount that comes directly from the sun and is reflected (without absorption) at the Earth’s surface.  My research is concerned with converting that measured radiance signal into a number of quantities which tell us about the composition of the atmosphere directly below the aircraft, primarily information relating to the temperature, water vapour, and greenhouse gas concentrations.

In the presence of clouds (between the aircraft and the ground) two things can happen to this upwelling radiation: the cloud can either be sufficiently thick so as to block it entirely, creating a new ‘surface’ at the cloud top height; or the cloud is thin enough so as to let the radiation through, but alters its properties (via absorption and scattering processes) before it is detected by the ARIES instrument, meaning that it is difficult to differentiate between what could be possible changes in the atmospheric quantities that we are interested in, and what is simply cloud. Either way for the research that I am conducting: cloud equals bad.

The medium range weather forecasts for the start of the campaign don’t look too promising, but this area of the world is notoriously difficult for the modellers to get right, and so I am still hopeful of sunny days. Fingers crossed though that this isn’t just blue-sky thinking.

— Dr Sam Illingworth, The University of Manchester. Find me on twitter @samillingworth, and striving for the Booker Prize at: