Greenhouse Gas Instrumentation System for Aquatic Ecosystems (GHG-Aqua)

Lead Research Organisation: UK Ctr for Ecology & Hydrology fr 011219
Department Name: Soils and Land Use (Bangor)

Abstract

Land-use and agriculture are responsible for around one quarter of all human greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. While some of the activities that contribute to these emissions, such as deforestation, are readily observable, others are not. It is now recognised that freshwater ecosystems are active components of the global carbon cycle; rivers and lakes process the organic matter and nutrients they receive from their catchments, emit carbon dioxide (CO2) and methane to the atmosphere, sequester CO2 through aquatic primary production, and bury carbon in their sediments. Human activities such as nutrient and organic matter pollution from agriculture and urban wastewater, modification of drainage networks, and the widespread creation of new water bodies, from farm ponds to hydro-electric and water supply reservoirs, have greatly modified natural aquatic biogeochemical processes. In some inland waters, this has led to large GHG emissions to the atmosphere. However these emissions are highly variable in time and space, occur via a range of pathways, and are consequently exceptionally hard to measure on the temporal and spatial scales required. Advances in technology, including high-frequency monitoring systems, autonomous boat-mounted sensors and novel, low-cost automated systems that can be operated remotely across multiple locations, now offer the potential to capture these important but poorly understood emissions.

In the GHG-Aqua project we will establish an integrated, UK-wide system for measuring aquatic GHG emissions, combining a core of highly instrumented 'Sentinel' sites with a distributed, community-run network of low-cost sensor systems deployed across UK inland waters to measure emissions from rivers, lakes, ponds, canals and reservoirs across gradients of human disturbance. A mobile instrument suite will enable detailed campaign-based assessment of vertical and spatial variations in fluxes and underlying processes. This globally unique and highly integrated measurement system will transform our capability to quantify aquatic GHG emissions from inland waters. With the support of a large community of researchers it will help to make the UK a world-leader in the field, and will facilitate future national and international scientific research to understand the role of natural and constructed waterbodies as active zones of carbon cycling, and sources and sinks for GHGs. We will work with government to include these fluxes in the UK's national emissions inventory; with the water industry to support their operational climate change mitigation targets; and with charities, agencies and others engaged in protecting and restoring freshwater environments to ensure that the climate change mitigation benefits of their activities can be captured, reported and sustained through effectively targeted investment.

Organisations

Publications

10 25 50
 
Description NERC Short Term Funding - Net Zero
Amount £562,000 (GBP)
Organisation Natural Environment Research Council 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 06/2021 
End 03/2022
 
Description GHG Aqua - Broads Authority 
Organisation Broads Authority
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution The GHG Aqua team have collaborated with the Broads Authority to conduct an initial survey of GHGs in water bodies across the area, that took place in July 2021. We have since been in touch with our results and have been discussing options for future research in the area using the GHG Aqua platform.
Collaborator Contribution Facilitation of site access and an enthusiasm about the research area and how they can engage with GHG Aqua.
Impact Presentation of GHGs from water bodies across the Broads given to the Broads Authority partners by Amy Pickard on 10 Jan 2022. First data set on GHGs from water bodies across the Broads.
Start Year 2021
 
Description GHG Aqua - DCWW 
Organisation Welsh Water
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution We have outlined the opportunities presented by GHG Aqua to DCWW in a number of meetings, and have confirmed with them that Llyn Cefni is a site of interest - hopefully as one of our sentinel sites. We are now scoping the site and preparing logistics for installation of equipment.
Collaborator Contribution Identifying infrastructure available for GHG Aqua equipment, including a buoy, contacting relevant local stakeholders and engaging in a collaborative manner towards GHG Aqua aims.
Impact None yet - 2 pager outlining plans in process.
Start Year 2021
 
Description GHG Aqua - Linkoping University 
Organisation Linkoping University
Country Sweden 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution GHG Aqua are taking forward Linkoping's AFC design within the project, and are in touch with the Linkoping team to discuss scaling up AFC outputs as well as enhancing usability for non-scientists.
Collaborator Contribution Linkoping have shared the AFC design and helped to identify suitable supply chains to keep the build costs low.
Impact AFC training sessions with Thanh Duc Nguyen. Identification of suitable sub-contractor for the AFC build.
Start Year 2021
 
Description GHG Aqua - National Trust 
Organisation National Trust
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution We have been in touch with the NT to take forward Esthwaite Water as one of our sentinel sites for GHG Aqua. We have delivered site scoping plans and details of our monitoring to relevant partners, and are now drawing up a licence for the deployment.
Collaborator Contribution NT are arranging a licence for our activities, and have joined us on a site visit to identify a suitable deployment locaiton at Esthwaite.
Impact None yet - licence pending.
Start Year 2021
 
Description GHG Aqua - Severn Trent Water 
Organisation Severn Trent Water
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution The GHG Aqua team have delivered an outline proposal to Severn Trent Water about how they can benefit from the GHG Aqua platform, with particular respect to quantifying emissions from their reservoirs and downstream of their waste water treatment plants.
Collaborator Contribution The Severn Trent team have provided data on reservoirs of interest, including their trophic state and other ongoing monitoring efforts at these sites.
Impact Delivery of outline proposal on GHG Aqua opportunities to the Severn Trent Water team.
Start Year 2021
 
Description GHG Aqua - UKCEH/National Trust/University of Birmingham CENTA DTP proposal 
Organisation National Trust
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution The GHG Aqua team conceived a study to measure GHGs from ornamental ponds owned and managed by the NT, which may be a large source of GHGs as they can be nutrient impacted.
Collaborator Contribution Contribution to the PhD proposal, and enthusiasm about GHG Aqua.
Impact Unfortunately the PhD proposal did not receive any applications, however we are taking forward discussions for future work on ornamental ponds with the NT.
Start Year 2021
 
Description GHG Aqua - UKCEH/National Trust/University of Birmingham CENTA DTP proposal 
Organisation University of Birmingham
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution The GHG Aqua team conceived a study to measure GHGs from ornamental ponds owned and managed by the NT, which may be a large source of GHGs as they can be nutrient impacted.
Collaborator Contribution Contribution to the PhD proposal, and enthusiasm about GHG Aqua.
Impact Unfortunately the PhD proposal did not receive any applications, however we are taking forward discussions for future work on ornamental ponds with the NT.
Start Year 2021
 
Description GHG-Aqua - Collaboration with University of Johannesburg 
Organisation University of Johannesburg
Country South Africa 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Partnership established to establish aquatic GHG measurements on reservoirs and ponds in South Africa using GHG Aqua methods and designs.
Collaborator Contribution Establishment of field programme, liaison with local manufacturers to build GHG sensor systems, collaborative funding proposals.
Impact Field research programme currently being developed, so no outputs yet. Awaiting outcome of funding application for GHG-Aqua aligned equipment in S Africa.
Start Year 2021
 
Description GHG Aqua Project partner information newsletter July 2021 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact The GHG Aqua team put together a newsletter to provide a partner update and to request that stakeholders get in touch about sites of interest to take forward as part of the GHG Aqua platform. Following the newsletter, we communicated with Severn Trent Water and have put together an outline proposal for them, which they are seeking internal funds to support.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021
 
Description GHG Aqua presentation to Broads Authority 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact The GHG Aqua team presented the project to the catchment team at the Broads Authority and summarised the findings of the UKCEH led sampling campaign that took place in July 2021, presenting a first order estimate of aquatic emissions from water bodies across the Broads.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2022