From: Andy Soos, ENN
Published November 19, 2012 12:26 PM

Tall Tower Green House Measurements

A network of integrated greenhouse gas measurements in the UK and Ireland – the first of its kind in Europe – has been established by researchers at the University of Bristol. The UK DECC (Deriving Emissions linked to Climate Change) Network consists of a network of four stations in the UK and Ireland which make high-frequency measurements of all major greenhouse gases from tall towers. Measurements made from the UK DECC Network are used by the Met Office to assess and verify atmospheric trends and UK emissions of these greenhouse gases. They are set tall to avoid ground level effects. Similar tall towers exist on continental Europe.


In 2011, Simon O'Doherty, Professor of Atmospheric Chemistry in the University’s Atmospheric Chemistry Research Group, was awarded funding of £1.9 million from the UK's Department of Energy and Climate Change to create a network of atmospheric observations in order to deliver increased spatial and temporal resolution of the estimated emissions.

The methodology chosen to achieve this was to build on the long-term measurements from Mace Head in Ireland and establish two new tall tower observation sites based in Ridge Hill (Herefordshire) and Tacolneston (Norfolk), and to adopt an existing station: Angus (Scotland).

Measuring gases from tall towers rather than at ground level enables researchers to see a larger footprint of emissions. The new network of measurement stations were set-up by Dr Aoife Grant over the past year.

Dr Grant said: "It’s really exciting to be involved in the first tall tower greenhouse gas network in Europe. Setting up measurements on the tall towers in the last year has been a real roller coaster: exciting, challenging and rewarding! Now the new stations are up and running we’re really looking forward to seeing modelling results using the increased density of measurements across the UK. They will be the highest spatially resolved greenhouse gas emission estimates and help to pin-point unknown or unreported emission sources."

The University of Bristol has been running a program of atmospheric monitoring of trace gases at Mace Head in the Republic of Ireland since 1987, with the UK Met Office carrying out interpretation of these data. Measurements from the new UK DECC Network will improve the accuracy of emissions estimates of harmful greenhouse gases.

Since 1992 semi-continuous in-situ observations of greenhouse gas concentrations have been performed at the tall tower of Cabauw in the Netherlands. Through 1992 up to now, the measurement system has been gradually extended and improved in precision, starting with CO2 and CH4 concentrations in 1992 to vertical gradients at 4 levels of the gases CO2, CH4, SF6, N2O, H2, CO.

The observations at Cabauw show a complex pattern caused by the influence of sources and sinks from a large area around the tower with significant contributions of sources and sinks at distances up to 500–700 km. The concentration footprint area of Cabauw is one the most intensive and complex source areas of greenhouse gases in the world.

For further information see Tower Measurements.

Tall Tower image by Aolfe Grant via University of Bristol.

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