Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Methane measurements at low level flight: Detection of the greenhouse gas methane in the Arctic

Date:
July 26, 2012
Source:
Helmholtz Association of German Research Centres
Summary:
First time measurements of large-scale methane emissions have been taken from the extensive Arctic permafrost landscapes.

View of the Polygonal Tundra during the AIRMETH campaign.
Credit: AWI

A team of scientists from the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research in the Helmholtz Association (AWI) and the GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences has just completed an airborne measurement campaign that allowed for the first time to measure large-scale methane emissions from the extensive Arctic permafrost landscapes. The study area extended from Barrow, the northernmost settlement on the American mainland, across the entire North Slope of Alaska, to the Mackenzie Delta in the Northwest Territories of Canada.

The airborne measurements (Airborne Measurement of Methane -- AIRMETH) at a flight level of only 30 to 50 meters above ground addresses two major questions: How much methane is emitted from permafrost areas into the atmosphere? Do well known geological point sources, i.e. the leakage of gas along geologic faults, contribute significantly to the total amount or does the microbially produced methane from the upper soil layers dominate?

"First of all, with these measurements we can quantify the current emis-sions and establish baseline data. On this basis, potential future climate-related changes can be determined. In addition, our data will help to better understand the still incompletely explored carbon cycle in the Arctic," said the GFZ scientist Torsten Sachs, head of the campaign.

In order to clarify the exact relationship between older geogenic and younger biogenic methane, isotope analysis would be required. In the Mackenzie Delta, however, the location of some geological sources is well known, so that selective measurements in the immediate surroundings allow conclusions about their contribution to the total emissions. In 2002, the GFZ was already involved here in a scientific drilling program for methane hydrate research. Covered by a 600 meter thick permafrost layer, this region stores unusually highly enriched methane hydrate reservoirs. These are currently considered the world's most significant accumulations under permafrost conditions.

The research aircraft Polar 5 of the Alfred Wegener Institute served as platform for the measurements. The machine of type Basler BT-67 was fitted with a meteorological nose boom, which includes a 5-hole probe to determine the 3D wind vector and temperature and humidity sensors. Via an intake on the roof of the airplane, air was also sucked into the cabin and examined with a fast methane analyser.

An initial screening of the results showed the need for the aircraft for the vast tundra areas: "By using the plane we have measured considerable regional differences in the methane concentration. This finding is new and important: on the one hand because the point measurements on ground stations have not yielded a very detailed and representative picture of the region. On the other hand because it showed that with the airborne measurements, we can close a data gap between the ground measurements and the available satellite data," says atmospheric researcher Dr. Joerg Hartmann from the Alfred Wegener Institute.

In a next step, the data will be analyzed in detail and the detected atmospheric flow processes will be integrated in computer models. The Alfred Wegener Institute is one of the world's leading science institutions in terms of permafrost and atmospheric research. Its scientists work both in the Russian tundra, on Svalbard and in the northern regions of Canada and the United States. As the national research centre for geosciences, the GFZ explores "System Earth" worldwide, with the geological, physical, chemical and biological processes that occur in Earth's interior and on the surface. Both research institutions are Helmholtz centres.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Helmholtz Association of German Research Centres. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Helmholtz Association of German Research Centres. "Methane measurements at low level flight: Detection of the greenhouse gas methane in the Arctic." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 26 July 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/07/120726113025.htm>.
Helmholtz Association of German Research Centres. (2012, July 26). Methane measurements at low level flight: Detection of the greenhouse gas methane in the Arctic. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 2, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/07/120726113025.htm
Helmholtz Association of German Research Centres. "Methane measurements at low level flight: Detection of the greenhouse gas methane in the Arctic." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/07/120726113025.htm (accessed September 2, 2014).

Share This




More Earth & Climate News

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Iceland Lowers Aviation Alert on Volcano

Iceland Lowers Aviation Alert on Volcano

AFP (Sep. 1, 2014) Iceland has lowered its aviation alert on its largest volcano after a fresh eruption on a nearby lava field prompted authorities to enforce a flight ban for several hours. Duration: 01:07 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Lightning Hurts 3 on NYC Beach

Lightning Hurts 3 on NYC Beach

AP (Sep. 1, 2014) A lightning strike injured three people on a New York City beach on Sunday. The storms also delayed flights and interrupted play at the US Open tennis tournament. (Sept. 1) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Thailand Totters Towards Waste Crisis

Thailand Totters Towards Waste Crisis

AFP (Sep. 1, 2014) Fears are mounting in Bangkok that poor planning and lax law enforcement are tipping Thailand towards a waste crisis. Duration: 01:21 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Melting Ice Shelves Drive Rapid Antarctic Sea Level Rise

Melting Ice Shelves Drive Rapid Antarctic Sea Level Rise

Newsy (Sep. 1, 2014) A study of almost 20 years' worth of satellite images shows Antarctic sea levels are on the rise as ice shelves continue to melt. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins