Archives for category: wetlands

It’s been a while since we posted here! After the intensity of the field work, the MAMM team has spent the last few years analysing the results, running computer models, and some of the team have even found the time to get married (not to each other!) or have a baby. Suffice to say, we have been busy.

Now the research has officially ended, we have published — or are in the process of getting published — many journal articles. Below is a list of those that are already published. Most are freely available by clicking on the title of the article.

As they are scientific articles, try as we might, they may not be the easiest to read for the uninitiated. So in time, we will post here some summary blog posts. In the interim, you can take a look at the poster below for some pretty pictures and a few highlights from MAMM without all the gory details.

If you are new here and have no idea what I’m on about, you can read a brief introduction to this blog here, or a slightly longer introduction to the project here.

 

MAMM research highlight poster

Some highlights from our Arctic Methane research.

 

Publications so far:

Nisbet, E. G., E. J. Dlugokencky, M. R. Manning, D. Lowry, R. E. Fisher, J. L. France, S. E. Michel, J. B. Miller, J. W. C. White, B. Vaughn, P. Bousquet, J. A. Pyle, N. J. Warwick, M. Cain, R. Brownlow, G. Zazzeri, M. Lanoisellé, A. C. Manning, E. Gloor, D. E. J. Worthy, E.-G. Brunke, C. Labuschagne, E. W. Wolff, A. L. Ganesan (2016), Rising atmospheric methane: 2007–2014 growth and isotopic shift, Global Biogeochem. Cycles, 30, doi:10.1002/2016GB005406.

Myhre, C. L., B. Ferré, S. M. Platt, A. Silyakova, O. Hermansen, G. Allen, I. Pisso, N. Schmidbauer, A.Stohl, J.Pitt, P.Jansson, J.Greinert, C. Percival, A.M.Fjaeraa, S.J.O’Shea, M. Gallagher, M.LeBreton, K.N.Bower, S.J.B.Bauguitte, S.Dalsøren, S. Vadakkepuliyambatta, R. E. Fisher, E.G.Nisbet, D.Lowry, G.Myhre, J.A.Pyle, M.Cain, and J. Mienert (2016), Extensive release of methane from Arctic seabed west of Svalbard during summer 2014 does not influence the atmosphere, Geophys. Res. Lett., 43, 46244631, doi:10.1002/2016GL068999.

O’Shea, S. J., Allen, G., Gallagher, M. W., Bower, K., Illingworth, S. M., Muller, J. B. A., Jones, B. T., 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. B., Manning, A. J., Friend, A. D., and Pyle, J. (2014) Methane and carbon dioxide fluxes and their regional scalability for the European Arctic wetlands during the MAMM project in summer 2012, Atmos. Chem. Phys., 14, 13159-13174, doi:10.5194/acp-14-13159-2014.

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. (2014) Atmospheric composition and thermodynamic retrievals from the ARIES airborne TIR-FTS system – Part 2: Validation and results from aircraft campaigns, Atmos. Meas. Tech., 7, 4401-4416, doi:10.5194/amt-7-4401-2014.

Pitt, J. R., Le Breton, M., Allen, G., Percival, C. J., Gallagher, M. W., Bauguitte, S. J.-B., O’Shea, S. J., Muller, J. B. A., Zahniser, M. S., Pyle, J., and Palmer, P. I. (2016) The development and evaluation of airborne in situ N2O and CH4 sampling using a quantum cascade laser absorption spectrometer (QCLAS), Atmos. Meas. Tech., 9, 63-77, doi:10.5194/amt-9-63-2016.

Jones, B. T.,  J.B.A. Muller, S. J. O’Shea, A. Bacak, M. Le Breton, T. J. Bannan, K. E. Leather, A. Murray Booth, S. Illingworth, K. Bower, M. W. Gallagher, G. Allen, D. E. Shallcross, S. J.-B. Bauguitte, J. A. Pyle, C. J. Percival (2014) Airborne measurements of HC(O)OH in the European Arctic: A winter – summer comparison, 99, 556–567, DOI:10.1016/j.atmosenv.2014.10.030.

Dinsmore, K. J., Drewer, J., Levy, P. E., George, C., Lohila, A., Aurela, M., and Skiba, U.: Growing season CH4 and N2O fluxes from a sub-arctic landscape in northern Finland, Biogeosciences Discuss., doi:10.5194/bg-2016-238, in review, 2016.

Warwick, N. J., Cain, M. L., Fisher, R., France, J. L., Lowry, D., Michel, S. E., Nisbet, E. G., Vaughn, B. H., White, J. W. C., and Pyle, J. A.: Using δ13C-CH4 and δD-CH4 to constrain Arctic methane emissions, Atmos. Chem. Phys. Discuss., doi:10.5194/acp-2016-408, in review, 2016.

A photo of wetlands from the flight featured in this paper. (Photo credit: Michelle Cain.)

A photo of wetlands from the flight featured in this paper. (Photo credit: Michelle Cain.)

Today, the MAMM team have had a new paper published based on one of our flights in July 2012. It’s quite exciting, as published papers are the end result of all our hard work, and the main way that others can find out about what we’ve been studying.

The paper is about emissions of methane and carbon dioxide from wetlands in Finland and Sweden, which is no surprise if you followed our field work! We used measurements of methane, carbon dioxide and the meteorology from the aircraft to work out how much of these greenhouse gases was coming off from the wetlands to explain the pattern we saw in the measurements.

This technique for working out the methane and carbon dioxide emissions compared really well with other methods we have of working this out from measurements on the ground or on towers just above the ground. This gives us confidence that the methods we have used are sound and the emissions we have worked out are good estimates.

We compared these emissions estimates with some computer simulations, and it turned out that our emissions were much larger than what the models simulated. This kind of comparison is a good starting point to try and improve the models and to make them more realistic, which is what we want if we are to use the models to try and test how much methane will be released under different conditions.

If you want to read the abstract and the full paper (it’s fully open access, including the peer review, which means anyone can download it), then head on over to the Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics journal:

O’Shea, S. J., Allen, G., Gallagher, M. W., Bower, K., Illingworth, S. M., Muller, J. B. A., Jones, B. T., 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. B., 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., 14, 13159-13174, doi:10.5194/acp-14-13159-2014, 2014.
http://www.atmos-chem-phys.net/14/13159/2014/acp-14-13159-2014.html

This week in Kiruna, Sweden was my first field trip and first time north of the Arctic Circle. This time of the year there is 24 hour daylight, a stark contrast to the vision I had of Santa Claus’ home – who knew that in Lapland you have to pack sunscreen! It all makes sense if you think about the reason for the field trip, the wetlands, and how as the temperature gets warmer methane is released.

On Monday afternoon I had my first flight, and not only was the science experience great but the view was spectacular!

Wetlands out of the window of my first science flight (Photo: Ines Heimann)

Wetlands out of the window of my first science flight (Photo: Ines Heimann)

We flew two different low East-West legs from Kiruna over the Finnish wetlands (most likely the more brownish areas, see photo). What I did not expect was such a bumpy ride: even with very low winds, 500 ft above ground means lots of little air holes and little bumps! Luckily, one of the science aims was to profile up to higher altitudes, to assess the local atmosphere’s vertical structure.

Inside the aircraft. (Photo: Ines Heimann)

Inside the aircraft. (Photo: Ines Heimann)

Seeing the measurements in real time while flying is definitely a wonderful experience! It took a while to get my first plots working, but afterwards, every little variation I spotted in methane was a highlight. The flight for me was therefore not as “dull” as the Mission Scientist 1 (an old hand at this) called it.

An interesting aspect of the flights was the discussions over the headphones deciding whether to continue the planned flight or to change altitude to get a better idea of concentrations or fluxes.

The flying on Monday was followed by yet another first-time experience: flight planning for Thursday – no mean feat! The office space in a hangar did help to imagine a plane journey!

Inside the hangar, where our office was based. (Photo: Ines Heimann)

Inside the hangar, where our office was based. (Photo: Ines Heimann)

It is only when I helped produce a plan that I realised how much work goes into a successful research flight and a successful measurement campaign. I learned that weather is probably the most important but also variable factor.

Considering the rain, wind and cloud forecast for Thursday, we prepared two different sortie plans, considering timings, distances and the altitudes for the measurements to ensure the fuel would bring us back to Kiruna.

Unfortunately Thursday arrived with a near constant cloud cover making flying at low altitudes impossible due to bad visibility. We tried our luck and found a gap south of Kiruna and managed to fly a quarter of our flight track at the desired altitude of 1000 ft under the clouds. Lucky me, who took an anti-sickness pill before take-off!

A cloudy day for flying over the wetlands. (Photo: Ines Heimann)

A cloudy day for flying over the wetlands. (Photo: Ines Heimann)

The rain arrived soon after the first leg and we ended up profiling up and down the atmosphere searching for different methane layers transported from other regions and sources. Analysis will show whether we got lucky!

In conclusion, this week was full of interesting and fascinating new experiences, and showed me how exciting science can be and how much we depend on our environment!

Ines Heimann (University of Cambridge)

Tuesday 1 to Wednesday 2 July 2014

For the previous 2 days of the MAGIC campaign we have carried out work around Svalbard to look for methane hydrate emissions off the west coast of the archipelago and to test a new inertial navigation system at high latitudes.

On Tuesday we left Kiruna in Northern Sweden at 0900 UTC (which is another way of saying GMT), transiting at high level before descending to 100 ft above sea level to rendezvous with the Norwegian research ship, the RV Helmer Hanssen, currently carrying out a survey of the methane above seabed bubble plumes, and looking for elevated methane in the atmosphere. We flew past the ship twice before heading to Longyearbyen to refuel and prepare for the next sortie of the day.

The second sortie was a 1400 UTC take off heading out to 10°E then to 84°N at 27000 ft. Stratospheric air was encountered at these high latitudes. Following a leg at 84°N across to 20°E and a successful navigation equipment test we headed back to the 10°E line heading for lower altitudes to look for methane emissions above leads (wide cracks) in the Arctic sea ice pack. Our descents to 100 ft were very intermittent due to low cloud cover, but lead development was seen near 81.5°N, and these became more frequent as we flew south. The edge of the ice pack was close to 80.1°N and fragments of ice from the pack were observed to 79.9°N. Methane seemed to increase very slightly after reaching open water but changes were not much above instrument measurement precision.

Ice break-up 81°N (Photo: Dave Lowry)

Ice break-up 81°N (Photo: Dave Lowry)

Melting Ice

Melting ice rafts at 80.5°N (Photo: Dave Lowry)

Edge of sea ice at 80.1°N.(Photo: Dave Lowry)

Edge of sea ice at 80.1°N.(Photo: Dave Lowry)

After debrief we headed to the centre of Longyearbyen. The taxi drivers have plenty of great stories about the town, some not appropriate for print. We stayed in the Radisson hotel, which apparently was transported from Lillehammer after the 1994 winter Olympics. The cloud cover made the town quite gloomy, not helped by the remnants and scars of coal mining on the hillsides, although residential developments do add some colour.

MAGIC leader, John Pyle,  a long way from home.

MAGIC leader, John Pyle, a long way from home.

Midnight cloud and fjord at east edge of Longyearbyen (Photo: Dave Lowry)

Midnight cloud and fjord at east edge of Longyearbyen (Photo: Dave Lowry)

Longyearbyen residents invited to contribute to biomethane project? Only joking. (Photo: Dave Lowry)

Longyearbyen residents invited to contribute to biomethane project? Only joking. (Photo: Dave Lowry)

The first sortie for Wednesday was a 0900 UTC departure aimed at surveying the hydrate bubble line west of Prins Karls Forland where the water depth is approximately 400 m. This has been the focus of extensive acoustic and geophysical study by European groups over the past decade. Many methane bubble plumes have been observed rising from the sea bed, but these tend to dissolve or be oxidized as they rise in the water column and their breaching of the surface is still hotly debated, hence our current atmospheric surveys. The data from the profiles across this zone will now be analysed to see if there is elevated methane, although first impressions are that this is not a very big source in the context of global methane emissions. Frequent sightings of whales and seals were reported back from the flight deck, but from my seat under the wing these went mostly unobserved. A low level (1000 ft) return to Lonyearbyen allowed some great views of the coastal scenery including mountains, glaciers and wetlands.

Southern tip of Prins Karls Forland (Photo: Dave Lowry)

Southern tip of Prins Karls Forland (Photo: Dave Lowry)

Thawing Svalbard wetland (Photo: Dave Lowry)

Thawing Svalbard wetland (Photo: Dave Lowry)

Another hour was spent over the bubble zone after lunch and refuel before climbing to 25,000 ft for the return transit to Kiruna. Spectacular views of the Norwegian coast were a distraction from watching the methane displays until the start of the descent into Kiruna. A plume of long-range transport of emitted methane was observed and sampled between 20,000 and 18,000 ft, and the air mass history will be analysed to interpret the source of this. We landed in Kiruna at 1700 UTC. We had flown around 13 hours in the 2 days and I had collected close to 50 samples of air for subsequent analysis back at Royal Holloway, University of London. So lots of tired crew and scientists but a very rewarding and informative trip. Hope to see a little more of the midnight sun if I get another opportunity to go up there.

Dr Dave Lowry (Royal Holloway, University of London)

It’s been a busy few days to start the MAGIC/MAMM field work, and I haven’t had a chance to write a blog about it, except the prelude in my previous post. We did have a successful flight over wetlands yesterday, and i managed to get a few good photos out of the window. So for now, here’s a couple of pictures to whet your appetite, and a link to a video so you can see the kind of land we flew over.

//

Link to a video clip from the flight by Michelle Cain.
The shadow of the research aircraft on the summertime Arctic landscape. (Photo: Michelle Cain)

The shadow of the research aircraft on the summertime Arctic landscape. (Photo: Michelle Cain)

Flying over a lake in FInland. (Photo: Michelle Cain)

Flying over a lake in FInland. (Photo: Michelle Cain)

Sun 29 June 2014

It’s 06:09am on a Sunday, and I am sitting on a train bound for London. I am glad that most people seem to be travellers who have slept and deliberately got up early for the train, and don’t look like they have been partying until dawn. I’m not sure I could handle such revelry at this previously unknown hour on a Sunday.

The only reason I am not only awake, but also out and about, is that I’m heading to Heathrow to begin my journey up to Kiruna in Northern Sweden for the final batch of field work for MAMM, which has been christened MAGIC because it’s a collaboration between several different projects (and presumably someone thought that MAGIC sounded pretty cool). Like in previous years, this is quite an epic journey. As my colleague Ines and I want to arrive reasonably early on Monday in Kiruna (so we can do the research flight in the afternoon), we are heading to Stockholm today, staying the night, and then getting an even earlier flight tomorrow to Kiruna. Luckily, we are staying over on a converted Jumbo Jet, which is pretty much at the airport. So I’ll get a lie in tomorrow.

The research flight tomorrow is to be a wetland survey. We have done these kinds of flights on previous years, so we want to repeat it to see if we get the same results this time. We are measuring methane over the wetlands, to see if different types of bogs, swamps, forests and fens give off different amounts of methane. We also want to see how the methane changes from season to season, and depending on the recent weather.

Two years ago we flew a few weeks later in July. This year will be the earliest we’ve been (the research aircraft arrives on 30 June), so you might expect it to be the coolest. I looked at the forecasts though, and it looks quite warm (possibly 15C where we’re going), so there’s a chance it’ll be warmer than some of the periods we’ve been before! I think northern Sweden is a little bit like the UK in that respect – you don’t know quite when the hottest part of the summer is going to be, and don’t be too surprised to get rain at any time!

Dr Michelle Cain, University of Cambridge

Flying over wetlands, lakes and forests last year.

Flying over wetlands, lakes and forests last year.

Stéphane and me next to the QCL (quantum cascade laser) instrument on board the Atmospheric Research Aircraft.

Stéphane and me next to the QCL (quantum cascade laser) instrument, which measures methane and nitrous oxide, on board the Atmospheric Research Aircraft. It really is a lab in the sky! Photo by Sue Nelson of Boffin Media.

A couple of weeks ago, I received an email, asking if I could take part in recording a Planet Earth podcast, with one of my colleagues (Planet Earth is the Natural Environment Research Council’s magazine). Of course I immediately agreed, as the MAMM team love sharing their work with the world!

So, a few Mondays ago, I went over to Cranfield, where the Atmospheric Research Aircraft is based when it’s not on field campaigns, to meet with Stéphane Bauguitte, one of the MAMM team who runs the fast greenhouse gas analyser and is a flight manager (amongst other things), and Sue Nelson, who was interviewing us and recording the podcast.

It was lucky that the aircraft was not only in the hangar and not out flying, but the instruments we use to measure the methane in the air were still on board. Many other projects don’t need to measure the methane, so the engineers remove the unnecessary kit, and replace it with other instruments to measure different things in the atmosphere.

We had a great time showing Sue the aircraft — I think she was suitably impressed by its size! Listen to the podcast to find out just how noisy it is on board, and to find out about our exploits in the Arctic.

Michelle.

The aircraft at home in the hangar at Cranfield. Photo by Sue Nelson of Boffin Media.

The aircraft at home in the hangar at Cranfield. Photo by Sue Nelson of Boffin Media.

Open access logo

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.

 

The ARA flying over Spitsbergen for MAMM in 2012.

Find out what it’s like to be a scientist of a research flight, like this one!

Regular readers will have a fair idea of the trials and tribulations of the MAMM field work team. Now, we’re going one step further by putting on a show for people to really find out what we get up to. 

The show is called “The Arctic science experience”, and will be put on twice at the Cambridge Science Festival on Wednesday 19th March. A full crew, including scientists, the pilot, cabin crew and the flight manager will be there, enacting a typical MAMM research flight over the Arctic wetlands. You’ll get to see a life-sized replica section of our aircraft, fitted with an instrument that measures methane. You’ll get to see what the scientists on the ground get up to, taking samples of what’s coming out of the bogs. Best of all, you’ll get to be part of the team, as one of the “mission scientists” who are consulted on decisions during the flight.

You can book (all tickets are free) for the 4pm showing (aimed at 12-18 year olds) here:

http://www.cam.ac.uk/science-festival/events-and-booking/when-scientists-fly-the-arctic-science-experience

or the 6pm showing (18+ as there will be wine available):

http://www.cam.ac.uk/science-festival/events-and-booking/out-of-this-world-the-arctic-science-experience

Be sure to book if you wish to attend, as it’s going to be a sell out! If you can’t make it, look out for tweets by @civiltalker, @jenniferbmuller, @samillingworth@camscience, @NERCscience, as we will be tweeting pics on the day. Hopefully, we will meet some of you in a few weeks!

Find out what it's like to be on board the research aircraft

Find out what it’s like to be on board the research aircraft

Sam Illingworth and Garry Hayman from the MAMM team, along with Oksana Tarasova from the World Meteorological Organisation, are convening a session at the European Geosciences Union General Assembly 2014, on the topic of Methane and other greenhouse gases in the Arctic:

http://meetingorganizer.copernicus.org/EGU2014/session/15041

The session will cover all the MAMM areas of work, and more! Follow the link for details, and do submit an abstract if this is your area of research. The deadline for abstracts is 16 January 2014, 13:00 CET.