Methane and other greenhouse gases in the Arctic - measurements, process studies and modelling (MAMM)

Lead Research Organisation: NERC Centre for Ecology and Hydrology
Department Name: Dise

Abstract

The Arctic is a major source of atmospheric methane and other greenhouse gases, with both natural and anthropogenic emissions. Arctic greenhouse gas sources have the potential to be important globally, changing radiative forcing and atmospheric oxidizing capacity. Moreover, both palaeorecords and present-day studies suggest some sources, such as wetlands and methane hydrates, may show strong positive feedbacks [Nisbet and Chappellaz, 2009], so that the warming feeds the warming. It is urgent that Arctic greenhouse gas sources should be quantified, by strength, geographic location, character (e.g. wetland, gasfield, clathrate), and by temporal variation (summer, winter, day, night), and their vulnerability to change assessed.
We will address these issues by an integrated program of measurement and modelling. Analysis of gas mixing ratios (concentrations), isotopic character, and source fluxes, will be made both from the ground and aircraft. Both past and new measurements will be modelled using a suite of techniques. Fluxes will be implemented into the JULES land surface model. Atmospheric modelling, including trajectory and inverse modelling will improve understanding on the local/regional scale, placing the role of Arctic emissions in large scale global atmospheric change.

Planned Impact

Greenhouse warming is a highly significant social, political and scientific issue. Any scientific study that seeks to increase our understanding of greenhouse gases (GHG) potentially has wide ranging impact. The MAMM project will therefore have significant impact across a wide spectrum of stakeholders.

Who will benefit from this research?

Scientific community. This work will be of significant scientific interest nationally and internationally. The cross-disciplinary nature of the project will ensure the results are relevant to atmospheric scientists, geologists and land-surface scientists.

Policymakers. The Arctic is a region of rapid change and currently much uncertainty exists about its role in contributing to growth in GHG, underlining the need for investment in Arctic research. This project will have a direct bearing on understanding the role of the Arctic in global warming for policymaking purposes. Therefore, policymakers in government and scientific bodies (such as IPCC) will all be users of the project outcomes.

Business. The UK Met Office will benefit from the close links with this project through collaborations for provision of modelling capability and measurements. Instrument companies have expressed interest in collaborating with MAMM scientists.

General public / media. There has been significant publicity in recent years on GHG and the Arctic. However, confusion is still apparent; for example, in a recent school visit 3 out of 4 6th form students thought the most abundant greenhouse gas was methane.

How will they benefit?

Scientific community. There is a lack of observations of GHG, particularly CH4 isotopic data, in the Arctic so the dataset gathered by this project will be important for the scientific community. Improvements to instruments during and after this project are likely. Improved national modelling capability will result that may enhance our ability to model polar climate change in Earth System Models. Project results will be widely reported in publications, international conferences, and an Arctic themed national conference as well as existing projects and collaborations such as MethaneNet, EU-GEOmon, etc. Project results will feed into future IPCC assessments.

Policymakers. Project PIs have provided advice to the UK government, contributed to EU policy committees, as well as to IPCC and WMO panels and assessments. Many opportunities exist for MAMM scientists to raise awareness of the role of the Arctic and of NERC's Arctic programme at the policy level, influencing legislation. In addition, project PDRAs will be encouraged to participate in the various 'science into policy' schemes that exist with the Royal Society and NERC.

Business. The UK Met Office is a key beneficiary of the MAMM project. They are providing the ARIES instrument during field campaigns and will benefit from field tests, leading to improved radiation modelling for the Met Office. They will also benefit from access to the new data and improvements to modelling capability through the UKCA and JULES projects. Instrument manufacturers will also benefit from advertising their involvement in a high profile scientific campaign and field testing of equipment e.g. Aerodyne Inc have expressed a wish to test their new instrument during the campaign.

General public / media. Our aim will be to raise awareness of the role of the Arctic and improve scientific understanding surrounding greenhouse warming. We will do this by media interviews and press releases during the project. Articles for popular science magazines will also be produced. A project website will be established along with a website aimed at presenting Arctic science to schoolchildren. Through podcasts and other web technologies we will aim to reach a wide audience. Local events such as national science week and presentations to local schools enhance the outreach from this project.
 
Description Our data have shown the importance of vegetation type and water table on the greenhouse gas fluxes, methane and nitrous oxide, from arctic wetlands. Methane and nitrous oxide emissions were considerably smaller from a neighboring forest. The data from our work in Sodankyla, Finland have been published (Dinsmore et al, 2017). The data from our work in Abisko, Sweden have been analysed and the paper is in preparation.
Exploitation Route Our growing season CH4 and N2O flux measurements from a sub-arctic landscape in northern Finland have shown that it is important to consider the heterogeneity of the landscape when upscaling from the plot to the landscape scale, in order not to underestimate the flux. We adopted a multiple regression modelling approach to describe CH4 emissions based on spectral data from PLEIADES PA1 satellite imagery across the 2 x 2 km landscape.
Sectors Education,Environment

URL http://arp.arctic.ac.uk/projects/methane-and-other-greenhouse-gases-arctic-measurem/
 
Description We have presented our data at the EGU conferences 2013 / 2014 and at project meetings and in 2015 at the Sheffield UK Arctic Science Conference (Sept 2015). Presentation 'Methane and other greenhouse gases in the Arctic - measurements, process studies and modelling (MAMM): Overview' by Garry Hayman and 'Comparing soil GHG fluxes from sub-arctic wetlands and forests in Finland and Sweden; and upscaling from plot to landscape' by Ute Skiba. Abstracts are published on http://www.arctic.ac.uk/wp-content/uploads/sites/8/sites/8/2015/01/UK-ARCTIC-SCIENCE-CONFERENCE-2015_Book-of-Abstracts_14.09.15.pdf We provided input to the MAMM blog and in April 2014 we contributed to the Cambridge Science Festival, with the show 'The Arctic Experience' In this show we demonstrated the different ways to measure methane (airborne and from the ground) and informed the public why it is important to study greenhouse gases, and especially methane emissions from the Arctic. We repeated this show in the Royal Botanic Gardens, Edinburgh in Oct 2015 and added to it interactive displays to show the audience a range of methane sources and how they are measured. This was done in collaboration with the NERC GREENGRASS and GAUGE projects. Our (CEH) findings are now published in 3 publications on (1) upscaling from plot to landscape (O'Shea, 2014), (2) processes and upscaling of methane and nitrous oxide fluxes in subarctic Finland (Dinsmore, K, 2017), (3) methane sources (Fischer, R, Global Biogeochemical Cycles, accepted), (4) analysis of the processes of methane and nitrous oxide fluxes in subarctic Sweden, to be submitted autumn 2018
First Year Of Impact 2014
Sector Education,Environment
Impact Types Policy & public services

 
Description MAMM 
Organisation Finnish Meteorological Institute
Country Finland 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution In the MAMM project we collaborated with FMI (Finnish Met Office) and Lund University, Sweden by using their measurements sites and sharing data. Joint publications are under development. Our contribution was 2 campaigns in Finland and 3 campaigns in Sweden of static chamber measurements located in the footprint of our partners Eddy Covariance Instruments. We provided information of the spatial heterogeneity of the methane, nitrous oxide and soil respiration rates along wetland gradients and also in an adjacent forest
Collaborator Contribution Our partners provided their infrastructure, historic data, meteorological and eddy covariance CO2 (and CH4 at FMI) data. FMI was a TNA partner in the FP7 EU network project ingos, which enabled us to claim some of our travel and subsistence fees from this EU project.
Impact Three joint papers are under development. The third paper was submitted to a peer reviewed journal, we are awaiting their decision Presentation of the joint work at the 2015 UK arctic Meeting in Sheffield
Start Year 2012
 
Description MAMM 
Organisation Lund University
Country Sweden 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution In the MAMM project we collaborated with FMI (Finnish Met Office) and Lund University, Sweden by using their measurements sites and sharing data. Joint publications are under development. Our contribution was 2 campaigns in Finland and 3 campaigns in Sweden of static chamber measurements located in the footprint of our partners Eddy Covariance Instruments. We provided information of the spatial heterogeneity of the methane, nitrous oxide and soil respiration rates along wetland gradients and also in an adjacent forest
Collaborator Contribution Our partners provided their infrastructure, historic data, meteorological and eddy covariance CO2 (and CH4 at FMI) data. FMI was a TNA partner in the FP7 EU network project ingos, which enabled us to claim some of our travel and subsistence fees from this EU project.
Impact Three joint papers are under development. The third paper was submitted to a peer reviewed journal, we are awaiting their decision Presentation of the joint work at the 2015 UK arctic Meeting in Sheffield
Start Year 2012
 
Description Greenhouse Gas Science Show 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact We repeated the 'Arctic Show' at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Edinburgh, and invited schools and the general public to look at posters, listen to a show of 'what it is like to be a research scientist' (featuring the FAMM mock aircraft, aircraft and ground based methane measurements in the Arctic), and interactive displays (i.e. how much methane do you emit?, what soil types, composts have largest methane emissions etc). This was a 2.5 day event and co-organised with the Edinburgh University GAUGE and GREENHOUSE projects
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
 
Description Outreach at science festivals 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact We presented out joint MAMM work at the Polar Science Festival in Cambridge 2014 and at the Royal Botanic Gardens in Edinburgh Oct 2015. We combined acting out airborne and field based measurement collection of GHG in several shows each lasting 50 min or less for the primary pupils. We used the mock FAMM aircraft as backdrop, and had a range of interactive displays to instil scientific curiosity and educate on GHG fluxes and their sources. There was plenty of interesting discussions with the audiences of all ages after the show.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014,2015