Arctic Methane: First science flight

Michelle Cain
August 19, 2013
View photos
Arctic Methane: Flight Saturday 17th PM

Norway's south coast, as seen from the transit flight to Kiruna (Photo credit: Jennifer Muller, University of Manchester.)


Quick update on the first science flight, which took place yesterday (Thursday 15th August). We decided that all 6(!) mission scientists would go on this flight to kick off the campaign.


We flew north from Kiruna, out over the ocean to about 73N. We flew through some clean background air (not recently polluted), and also some layers of air that had higher and more variable methane concentrations. We saw these layers 3 times at similar altitudes, and I think there were 2 distinct sources for this higher methane. We’ll need to look at the back trajectories and carbon isotopes (see this earlier post for info on what they are!)


Flying over methane-emitting, nausea-inducing regions of Finland. 18:43 on Thursday 16 August 2013. (Photo credit: Michelle Cain.)


On our way back south, we flew over Berlevaag (in Norway), where Dave Lowry was on his road trip, taking air samples. We didn’t see him from the aircraft, but he saw us!


We also saw some methane when we flew low over the forest/wetland areas. There was a clear transition between low methane over the rockier/drier areas near the northern coast, and the greener areas further south. Both Nicola and I also felt a transition between feeling fine in the north, and feeling rather queasy flying over the wetlands, where there’s a bit more warmth and a low rumble of turbulence…


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




Follow Scientific American on Twitter @SciAm and @SciamBlogs.
Visit ScientificAmerican.com for the latest in science, health and technology news.

© 2013 ScientificAmerican.com. All rights reserved.