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Arctic Methane: Flight Sunday 18th PM

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


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As the Red Team member who was co-ordinating with the Blue Team during their flight, I must emphasise the crucial role I played in using the chat room to keep up to date with the Blue Team and their new plans, and then making a phone call to the TCCON site manager. Yes, that was about all I did, and I feel very proud of myself.

As I write this (on Monday afternoon), on a commercial flight home, the ARA will be flying around gas fields in the North Sea, and will then fly over East Anglia to hopefully sample some agricultural or landfill emissions. That will be the final flight for this campaign, until our next one in September. But back to yesterday afternoon’s flight, which followed on from the surprise hit that was the morning flight. Coming off the aircraft, the Blue Team were positively glowing with excitement at how well it had gone. We could not be out done, so we were determined to see ours through as well as we possibly could.

The University of Lund’s Sky Arrow, getting ready for take off. (Photo credit: Michelle Cain.)

The University of Lund’s Sky Arrow, getting ready for take off. (Photo credit: Michelle Cain.)

I was wearing my Michelle “Sticks to the Plan”  Cain t-shirt (from a previous campaign), and that is pretty much what we did. And it worked very well too. We flew the same path as the morning’s flight (except for the TCCON part), and I think we saw the build up of methane form the day’s wetland emissions. Until we have calibrated the methane measurements, we won’t know if this is the case, but from the information we have so far, we think there was more methane in the afternoon. We should then be able to work out how much was added to the atmosphere over the course of the day, which is one of the project’s aims.

The University of Lund’s Sky Arrow also flew today. They took off shortly after us, and flew the first section of our flight plan. The Sky Arrow is a lightweight aircraft, with room for the pilot and either one other person, or some kit to make measurements. Clearly, they took the latter! They also flew over to Abisko, where we have some ground measurements ongoing. We are all keen to find out what their measurements are and how they compare to our own.

Most of the August detachment MAMM team, on the last full day of flying. Don’t despair — we’ll be back in September! (Photo credit: John Pyle.)

Most of the August detachment MAMM team, on the last full day of flying. Don’t despair — we’ll be back in September! (Photo credit: John Pyle.)

Overall, I felt that this was a great day to end on — for me at least, some others are still out there! In between the two flights, we gathered everyone who was around to have a group photo, so we will all have a little reminder of the campaign.

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
Arctic Methane: Flight Saturday 17th PM
Arctic Methane: Flight Sunday 18th 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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