Fugitive Methane Emissions in the UK and their Impacts on the Urban Atmosphere

Theme: Environmental Pollution

Main Supervisor:

David Lowry Lowry

Earth Sciences, RHUL

Second Supervisor:

Euan Nisbet

Earth Sciences, RHUL

Project Description:

Methane is an important greenhouse gas, but many of its emissions have the potential to be greatly reduced. Sources in urban England are dominated by gas leaks, and in peripheral areas by landfills, coal mines and ruminant emissions. These methane sources can be identified by their carbon isotopic ratios (13C/12C), which distinguish hot combustion and fossil fuel processes from cooler biological processes.

The RHUL greenhouse gas laboratory has a mobile laser-based analyser and GPS for continuous measurement of plumes emitting from sources and mass spectrometers for isotopic measurement. Field campaigns will identify the main emission sources and profile methane upwind and downwind, while collecting samples for laboratory analysis. Measurements will be compared with inventory estimates of emissions.

The student will be expected to work on development of a flux measurement module for the vehicle and use dispersion models to estimate fluxes from identified point sources.

Policy Impact of Research:

Project uses recently developed mobile laser analyser to measure methane, identifying leaks to be reduced and verifying emission inventories.

Fits with NERC greenhouse gas emissions research theme aiming “to develop the capability to measure sources of major anthropogenic greenhouse gases.”


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