Methane emissions on large scales

Beswick, K. M.; Simpson, T. W.; Fowler, D.; Choularton, T. W.; Gallagher, M. W.; Hargreaves, K. J.; Sutton, M. A.; Kaye, A.. 1998 Methane emissions on large scales. Atmospheric Environment, 32 (19). 3283-3291.

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Two separate studies have been undertaken to improve estimates of methane emissions on a landscape scale. The first study took place over a palsa mire in northern Finland in August 1995. A tethered balloon and a tunable diode laser were used to measure profiles of methane in the nocturnal boundary layer. Using a simple box method or the flux gradient technique fluxes ranging from 18.5 to 658 μmol m−2 h−1 were calculated. The large fluxes may be caused by advection of methane pockets across the measurement site, reflecting the heterogeneous nature of methane source strengths in the surrounding area. Under suitable conditions, comparison with nearby ground-based eddy-correlation results suggested that the balloon techniques could successfully measure fluxes on field scales. The second study was carried out by the NERC Scientific Services Atmospheric Research Airborne Support Facility using the Hercules C130 operated by the United Kingdom Meteorological Research Flight. A flight path around the northern coastline of Britain under steady West-East wind conditions enabled the measurement of methane concentrations up- and down-wind of northern Britain. Using a simple one-dimensional, constant-source diffusion model, the difference between the upwind and downwind concentrations was accounted for by methane emission from the surface. The contribution to methane emissions from livestock was also modelled. Modelled non-agricultural methane emissions decreased with increasing latitude with fluxes in northern England being a factor of 4 greater than those in northern Scotland. Since the only major methane source in northern Scotland was peat bogs, these results indicated that emissions over northern England were dominated by anthropogenic sources. Emissions from livestock accounted for 12% of the total flux over northern England, decreasing to 4% in southern Scotland and becoming negligible in northern Scotland. The total methane flux over northern Scotland was consistent with previous results from the area, indicating that this method of data analysis provided good estimates of large scale methane emissions.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
Programmes: CEH Programmes pre-2009 publications > Biogeochemistry
UKCEH and CEH Sections/Science Areas: _ Atmospheric Sciences
ISSN: 1352-2310
Additional Keywords: Atmospheric composition, Methane, Gas emissions, Laser applications, Semiconductor lasers, Tethered balloon technique
NORA Subject Terms: Atmospheric Sciences
Date made live: 08 Sep 2008 14:59 +0 (UTC)

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