Scientists take to air and sea to chart progress on greenhouse gases
Published by University of Leicester Press Office for University of Leicester in Central Government and also in Education
Measurements taken from satellite, aircraft, and ship are to help create a detailed picture of UK emissions of harmful greenhouse gases.
Scientists will use the results from the project, which starts today, to help gauge and track progress on Government targets to curb greenhouse gas emissions by 80 per cent by 2050.
The project will measure gases emitted from various UK sources, such as industry, landfill and agriculture. Tracking their movements will also help researchers improve their current understanding of how the gases affect climate change.
A team led by the University of Edinburgh will fly across the UK in a research aircraft equipped with sensors to measure carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide in the air. The team will also take samples from sensors on a North Sea ferry, and from a series of towers, several storeys high, situated across the UK.
The University of Leicester researchers are leading the work on satellite-based remote sensing of greenhouse gases. They are also deploying a new multi-gas sensor in the UK which will be used in conjunction with more traditional sensors.
Dr Hartmut Boesch of the University’s Department of Physics and Astronomy, who is leading the team at the University of Leicester, said: “Satellite will play a key role for verification of national emissions and this project provides us with a great opportunity to develop such methods and to find out how much we can already learn from existing satellites.”
Results from the four-year survey will be coupled with observations from European, US and Japanese satellites of greenhouse gas movements. Together this will give details of UK emissions to the atmosphere, in a global context, taking account of seasonal changes, such as emissions linked to agriculture.
Air sampling at the BT Tower in London, and observations at a tower to be built in south-east England, will enable the first long-term study of greenhouse gas emissions from the capital.
The study, funded by the Natural Environment Research Council, will be carried out with the Universities of Bristol, Cambridge, Leeds, Leicester and Manchester, the NERC Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, the Met Office and the STFC Rutherford Appleton Laboratory.
Professor Paul Palmer, of the University of Edinburgh’s School of GeoSciences, who is leading the project, said: “This will deliver robust greenhouse gas emissions estimates from the UK and the world, by bringing together comprehensive data and talented scientists who can make sense of it – this should help track progress towards tackling climate change.”