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Arctic Methane: Flight Saturday 17th PM

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Norway's south coast, as seen from the transit flight to Kiruna (Photo credit: Jennifer Muller, University of Manchester.)

Norway's south coast, as seen from the transit flight to Kiruna (Photo credit: Jennifer Muller, University of Manchester.)

In this afternoon’s flight, we started off flying similar E-W transects to the latter part of this morning’s flight, to see what had changed in the intervening few hours. I think we saw some similar patterns to the blue team (aka the green team) this morning, although we have had less sickness on the flight. We should maybe rename ourselves the iron (or ferrum) team, in honour of both our iron stomachs and as a tribute to Kiruna (which only really exists because of a huge iron mine in the vicinity).

In any case, we saw more methane today than we saw yesterday, again with a nice gradient E-W. We also saw some high-methane levels aloft over the ocean. This means we might have seen methane from several different sources, but we’ll have to wait for the isotope analysis and back trajectory calculations to confirm that. Sam’s suggestion of Russian and European anthropogenic emissions is consistent with some of the forecast modelling we did, so I’ll go with that as a working hypothesis.

Aside from the excitement of the methane during the flight, we continued to get a running commentary from the pilots about the few caravans and cars they see in the wilds of northern Norway, the occasional Sami tent, whether the cows are small or far away, and various illusions that the terrain can play on pilot’s eyes to confuse them. Not the most reassuring topic of in-flight conversation. We also heard about “mission 1 finger”, which afflicts mission scientist one (in this case Keith), as they have to keep their finger on a switch to speak on the intercom. Possibly this is a clue that Keith should do less talking…

Previously in this series:

Arctic Methane: Hello and welcome to the MAMM blog
Arctic methane: What’s the story?
Methane and Mosquitoes – Blogging Bogs
Arctic Methane: Mr Blue Sky
Arctic Methane: And in the blue corner…
Arctic Methane: Transiting to Kiruna
Arctic Methane: First science flight
Arctic Methane: A night in Stordalen wetland, Abisko
Arctic Methane: Flight Friday 16th AM
Arctic Methane: Flight Friday 16th PM
Arctic Methane: Flight Saturday 17th AM

Michelle Cain About the Author: Michelle Cain is a postdoctoral researcher at the Centre for Atmospheric Science in the Department of Chemistry at the University of Cambridge, UK, and a Natural Environment Research Council policy placement fellow at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, UK. She completed her doctorate at the Department of Meteorology at the University of Reading, where she used both computer models and measurement data to study the transport of pollutants in the atmosphere. She is currently using these techniques to study pollutants in the atmosphere globally, including methane emissions in the Arctic. Posts will come from both Michelle and her colleagues working on the Arctic field work. Follow on Twitter @civiltalker.

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.

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