International Collaboration on Measurement of Globally-important Gases in the Atmosphere of the Tropical Maritime Continent

Lead Research Organisation: University of Cambridge
Department Name: Chemistry


Long-term measurements of the atmospheric composition are required for a full understanding of the effects of human emissions of greenhouse gases and pollutants. For historic reasons, the network of observing stations run under the auspices of the World Meteorological Organisation's Global Atmospheric Watch program has some regions which are well studied (e.g. Europe and North America) and some which are not. One region where the observing capability is limited is that part of Southeast Asia and the West Pacific known as the 'Maritime Continent'. In this project, we will work with the University of Malaya and the Malaysian Meteorological Department to develop a high-quality, long-term atmospheric monitoring program at the new field station at Bachok on the Malaysian peninsula. This site is extremely well located for studies of the outflow of the rapidly developing Southeast Asian countries, as well as for the interaction of that air with the much cleaner atmosphere in the southern hemisphere. The Universities of Cambridge and East Anglia both have experience in making long-term measurements. In particular UEA have operated a well-instrumented observing site at Weybourne on the north Norfolk coast for well over a decade. This expertise will be used to develop the existing capability in Malaysia and to design and implement a programme of long-term measurements at Bachok. The focus of the measurements in the first instance will be greenhouse gases, ozone depleting substances, and chemical pollutants. In addition we will be encouraging the involvement of other interested scientists in NCAS Composition, the UK more generally and beyond to strengthen the planned measurement program. A demonstration activity will be arranged in the winter monsoon season when the flow is strongly from Southeast Asia. This activity will have two aims: (i) ensuring high quality measurements are made at the site; and (ii) determine the characteristics of the site and its suitability for the assessment of both global and regional atmospheric composition. Many of the measurements made in this activity will then be continued in to the monitoring programme. It is important to ensure that such measurements are fully exploited, and to this end we will both collaborate with partners in Taiwan and Australia and develop a modelling strategy for the interpretation of the data in conjunction with UK modelling groups including those at Cambridge, UEA and within NCAS. Exchange visits will be used for training purposes and for the development of collaborative interpretive studies (and peer-reviewed publications). Finally, a major scientific conference will be held towards the end of the project, linking in to international programs such as WMO-GAW, IGAC or SOLAS.

Planned Impact

Having an impact on a wide community is at the heart of this project promoting International Collaboration. The workshops, conference and exchange visits will all help to achieve this. The main beneficiary will be the international organisations that provide scientific support and assessment to policy makers. Specifically this includes WMO-GAW, as an intention of this proposal is to prepare the new UK-Malaysian atmospheric observatory for possible entry in to the global GAW network. The improved scientific knowledge and understanding will also benefit the authors of international assessments and reports whether they are for intergovernmental organizations such as IPCC and WMO or for international research programmes such as IGBP-SOLAS, IGAC or WCRP-SPARC. In the UK, scientists within NCAS will be provided with early opportunities to participate in the new research programme at Bachok, and in turn the Research Directorate in NCAS is well positioned to ensure that the results can be communicated to policymakers, the public and other interested parties. A variety of electronic media will be used to promote understanding of the aims of the results of research, including social media, websites, and public talks or presentations such as in the University of Cambridge Science Week. It will directly benefit NERC through a contribution to its Themes on Climate Systems, Earth System Science and Sustainable Use of Natural Resources. The conference in Malaysia at the end of the project, as well as workshops in the UK, will provide an excellent opportunity to reach out to representatives from the policy and industrial fields. A valuable and inevitable spin-off of enhanced scientific collaborations will be improved scientific links between countries - not only will they help those directly involved, but they will also facilitate the development of new links as new areas of interest emerge.


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Description The new University of Malaya field station at Bachok, Malaysia has opened and is a very impressive facility. It has become a WMO-GAW regional site and measurements are continuing to be made there.

The measurement activity took place in Jan/Feb 2014 and investigated the outflow from SE Asia in winter while testing the capability of Bacjok to host a major campaign. The data are continuing to be analysed, but important results to date include a good characterisation of the PM10 in the area and an assessment of the importance importance of long-range transport on air quality on the Malaysian peninsular. This includes the identification of the export of short-lived chlorine compounds from NE China which could be important contributors to future stratospheric chlorine loading and hence ozone depletion.
Exploitation Route None yet - information about the SE Asian outflow should yield information about emissions in that region. Training of UM personnel is continuing. The main exploitation (a scientific meeting with day for the public) will take place near the end of the project.
Sectors Environment

Description The work developing the new atmospheric component at the UM/IOES Marine and Atmospheric Research Station will provide valuable information on the background state of the atmosphere in this undersampled part of the world, and help address issues including air quality, greenhouse gas emissions and transboundary pollution. It has further strengthened UK/Malaysian links in atmospheric science and is helping to develop the atmospheric science capability in Malaysia in physical and personal terms.
First Year Of Impact 2014
Sector Education,Environment
Impact Types Societal

Description International partnership building 
Organisation University of Malaya
Country Malaysia 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Series of group and individual meetings between PIs and development of a collaborative strategy. Meetings held in Norwich (UEA), Cambridge, Kuala Lumpur, Bachok (Malaysia), and opportunistically in New Zealand and Australia, and involving the majority of PI institutes (UEA), University of Cambridge, University of Malaya (UM), the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO, Australia), and the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA, New Zealand), as well as verbal contact with the National Central University of Taiwan. There was also a site visit to the the new research facility at Bachok, and the Malaysian Meteorology Department (MMD) weather station/radiosonde launch facility at Kota Bharu, both central to this project, with staff from UEA, Cambridge, UM and MMD. Graduate students from Malaysia are attending courses run by NCAS on atmospheric science. The collaboration continues since my move to Cranfield and we are involved with UM, UKM and MMD in the NERC Newton Fund project looking at air quality in the greater Klang Valley
Collaborator Contribution The demonstration activity held in Bachok, Malaysia in Jan/Feb 2014 successfully showed that several state-of-the-art instruments could be run in camapign mode in conjunction with the suite of instruments being installed by the University of Malaya for long-term observations.
Impact The campaign took place successfully. A joint science meeting was held in Cambridge, UK in September 2014 and a publication policy was agreed.
Start Year 2008