CH1: Bristol Research Influences Global Response to Ozone-Depleting and Greenhouse Gases
Submitting InstitutionUniversity of Bristol
Unit of AssessmentChemistry
Summary Impact TypeEnvironmental
Research Subject Area(s)
Chemical Sciences: Other Chemical Sciences
Earth Sciences: Atmospheric Sciences
Summary of the impact
Successful policy formulation and effective action on ozone depletion and
climate change, both of
which have profound environmental implications, depend on the availability
of credible data on
atmospheric gases. Research conducted in the School of Chemistry at the
University of Bristol
between 1992 and 2013 has played a leading role in global efforts to
achieve reliable, long-term
measurement of climatically important gases such as CO2, CH4
and N2O. When combined with
models of atmospheric gas transport, these observations provide an
independent means of
assessing natural and man-made emissions. This work is used by the UK's
Department of Energy
and Climate Change (DECC) for monitoring compliance with international and
identifying priorities for improving inventory accuracy, assessing the
UK's progress towards targets
set in the Montreal and Kyoto Protocols, evaluating the impact of policy,
and informing international
negotiations. These data have been central to recent World Meteorological
Office (WMO) Scientific
Assessments of Ozone Depletion produced between 2007 and 2010 and to the
Inter Governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Assessment of Climate
published in 2007.
The work carried out at the University of Bristol's Atmospheric
Chemistry Research Group
(ACRG) furthers understanding of emissions of climatically important gases
at both regional and
global scales. Globally, the analysis of long-term measurements of key
radiatively and chemically
active gases in the atmosphere generates insights into the role of these
gases in global climate
change and ozone depletion in the stratosphere. The observatories making
these long-term (1987-present),
high-frequency measurements are part of an internationally recognised
global network of
10 observing stations called the Advanced Global Atmospheric Gases
O'Doherty, Professor of Atmospheric Chemistry, and head of the ACRG
measurement group is a
Co-Investigator of the AGAGE programme and lead scientist in charge of two
of the AGAGE
stations, Mace Head in Ireland and Ragged Point in Barbados. Since joining
the network in 1991,
O'Doherty has pioneered novel analytical techniques that now make
AGAGE the only global
network capable of measuring the full suite of substances regulated under
the Montreal and Kyoto
Protocols. Funded through a NERC Advanced Fellowship, Rigby (also
in the ACRG) is developing
methods for understanding global greenhouse gas emissions using AGAGE
chemical transport models.
The scientific highlights of Bristol's involvement with AGAGE, which are
important in furthering our
understanding of changes in global atmospheric composition, are summarised
below, with links to
the scientific outputs listed in Section 3 in brackets:
- The determination, from atmospheric observations, of global and
regional rates of emission
and destruction of natural and anthropogenic compounds that contribute
to climate change
and stratospheric ozone depletion (1-6).
- Improved accuracy in our understanding of the global distributions and
temporal behaviours of
natural and anthropogenic gases in the global atmosphere (1-3,5).
- The identification and accurate measurement of new greenhouse gases
substances in the global atmosphere (eg the recently discovered
SO2F2, and high accuracy
measurement of NF3, C4F10, C5F12,
C6F14, C7F16 and C8F18)
- Quantification of the oxidising capacity of the troposphere (5).
The information derived from observational networks such as AGAGE has
resulted in regulation of
the production and use of ozone-depleting substances (ODSs) under the
Montreal Protocol. The
rate of recovery of the ozone layer will depend critically on the rate of
decrease of ODSs, which will
be measured and interpreted by the AGAGE global network.
To support global climate legislation, it has been recognised that we
must develop the capability to
monitor greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions at national scales. The School of
Chemistry at Bristol, in
collaboration with the Met Office, is at the very forefront of this
effort. The UK DECC Network, led
by O'Doherty and funded by DECC, is a unique national GHG
monitoring system, comprising four
stations (with two more being added in 2013) making high-frequency
measurements of key
atmospheric trace gases. Since 2010, GHGs have been measured at tall-tower
sampling sites at
Tacolneston (Norfolk, UK), Angus (Dundee, Scotland) and Ridge Hill
complementing the long-term record from Mace Head in Ireland. Analysis and
these observations using state-of-the-art "inverse" modelling techniques
enables the independent
assessment of the UK's adherence to the Montreal Protocol as implemented
by the Environmental
Protection (Controls on Ozone-Depleting Substances) Regulations (2011).
improves emissions estimation to UK Devolved Administration (DA) level and
of the UK GHG emission inventories submitted annually to the United
Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) under the Kyoto Protocol.
References to the research
(1) Global and regional emissions of HFC-125 (CHF2CF3)
from in situ and air archive
atmospheric observations at AGAGE and SOGE observatories, S. O'Doherty, D.
Cunnold, B. R. Miller, J. Mühle, A. McCulloch, P.G. Simmonds, A. J.
Manning, S. Reimann,
M. K. Vollmer, B. R. Greally, R. G. Prinn, P. J. Fraser, L. P. Steele, P.
B. Krummel, B. L.,
Dunse, L. W. Porter, C. R. Lunder, N. Schmidbauer, O. Hermansen, P. K.
Salameh, C. M.
Harth, R. H. J. Wang and R. F. Weiss, J. Geophys. Res., 2009, 114,
(2) A new analytical inversion method for determining regional and
global emissions of
greenhouse gases: sensitivity studies and application to halocarbons, A.
Stohl, P. Seibert,
J. Arduini, S. Eckhardt, P. Fraser, B. R. Greally, M. Maione, S.
O'Doherty, R. G. Prinn, S.
Reimann, T. Saito, N. Schmidbauer, P. G. Simmonds, M. K. Vollmer, R. F.
Weiss, and Y.
Yokouchi, Atmos. Chem. Phys., 2009, 9, 1597-1620, DOI:
(3) A 15 year record of high-frequency, in situ measurements of
hydrogen at Mace Head,
Ireland, A. Grant, C. S. Witham, P. G. Simmonds, A. J. Manning, and S.
Chem. Phys., 2010, 10, 1203-1214, DOI:
(4) Inverse modelling of European CH4 emissions
2001-2006, P. Bergamaschi, M. Krol, J. F.
Meirink, F. Dentener, A. Segers, J. van Aardenne, S. Monni, A. T.
Vermeulen, M. Schmidt,
M. Ramonet, C. Yver, F. Meinhardt, E. G. Nisbet, R. E. Fisher, S.
O'Doherty, and E. J.
Dlugokencky, J. Geophys. Res., 2010, 115, D22309, DOI:
(5) Ozone Depleting Substances (ODSs) and Related Chemicals,
Chapter 1 in Scientific
Assessment of Ozone Depletion: 2010, S. A Montzka and S. Reimann
Authors), A. Engel, K. Kruger, S. O'Doherty, W.T. Sturges, Global
Ozone Research and
Monitoring Project-Report, 2011, No.52, 516, World
Meteorological Organization, Geneva,
(6) Estimating UK methane and nitrous oxide emissions from 1990 to
2007 using an inversion
modelling approach, A. Manning, S. O'Doherty, A. R. Jones, P. G. Simmonds
and R. G.
Derwent, J. Geophys. Res., 2011, 116, D0230, DOI:
2013-2017 Natural Environmental Research Council (NERC), Greenhouse gAs
Uk and Global
Emissions (GAUGE), £974,180 (of £3m consortium proposal); Co-I
2012-2017 Towards treaty verification for non-CO2 greenhouse
gases, NERC Advanced
Research Fellowship, £460,196; PI is Rigby.
2011-2015 EU, InGOS, €518,225; PI is O'Doherty.
2011-2014 Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC), Extension of
Atmospheric Measurements of Trace Gases, £1,901,000; PI is
2011-2016 National Space and Atmospheric Administration (NASA), AGAGE
Project, $712,049; PI is O'Doherty.
2010-2011 Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC), Extension of
Atmospheric Measurements of Trace Gases, £230,000; PI is
2009-2014 National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), AGAGE
in Barbados, $325,666; PI is O'Doherty.
2008-2011 Irish EPA, Measurement of Trace Gases at Carnsore Point, €564,860;
2007-2010 Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC), Measurements at
£623,244; PI is O'Doherty.
2006-2009 EU, Eurohydros, €124,000; PI is O`Doherty.
2005-2008 NERC; Surface Ocean — Layer Atmosphere Study (SOLAS), £165,395;
2005-2007 Defra, Advanced Global Atmospheric Gases Experiment (AGAGE), £282,469;
Principal Scientist is O'Doherty.
2005-2009 Marie Curie Action, Early Stage Training, BREATHE, €1,064,360;
2003-2007 National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), Advanced
Atmospheric Gases Experiment (AGAGE), $490,551; Principal
Details of the impact
Monitoring of atmospheric concentrations of gases is important in
assessing the impact of
international policies related to the atmospheric environment and sources
(Section 5) are indicated
in brackets. The work carried out at Bristol provides, for the first time,
an independent scientific
verification of UK emissions (a) submitted by Parties to the
Convention reporting under the
UNFCCC and its Kyoto Protocol. A verification section written by O'Doherty
is included in the
UNFCCC documentation (b). The UK, Australia and Switzerland are the
only countries to provide
such verification. This type of research was identified as an area of
importance at the UNFCCC,
Conference of the Parties (COP15), the Copenhagen Accord, where parties
were urged to "ensure
sustained long-term operation of essential in situ networks through
provision of necessary
Long-term monitoring of this kind is similarly important in assessing the
impact of international
policies related to control measures on chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), halons
hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs) introduced under the Montreal Protocol of
Deplete the Ozone Layer. The effect of worldwide CFC controls can be seen
by decreases in the
long-term concentrations. Continued monitoring is required to assess the
overall success of the
Protocol leading to the recovery of the ozone layer, and the implications
for atmospheric levels of
replacement compounds such as HFCs (c).
The UK and international GHG reduction commitments, of which the
provide independent verification, translate into sector and company level
obligations which impact
across all regions of the UK. For example, there are a number of GHG
applicable to businesses operating in the UK, such as the EU Emissions
Trading System and the
CRC Energy Efficiency Scheme (a).
The atmospheric observations have helped DECC prioritise research to
improve the GHG
inventory. For example, emissions derived from measurements of N2O
have resulted in a large
research programme in Defra to better understand agricultural emissions
that result from the
application of man-made fertilizers. This gas is a potent GHG, with the
fourth largest climate effect
after CO2, CH4 and CFC-12 (d).
The information derived from this research will continue to inform
governments responsible for
formulating policies on climate change mitigation and adaption. In
addition, a much wider range of
organisations that are responsible for planning climate-sensitive
activities and investments will
benefit. For example, NERC recently funded an £8.1m programme, "Greenhouse
and feedbacks" (O'Doherty and Rigby are co-investigators of
this multi-University consortium), to
increase the UK's ability to measure and predict sources and sinks of the
greenhouse gases. The DECC Network forms a central part of this national
Identification by AGAGE, of new ozone-depleting or global-warming
substances of potential policy
interest have been provided to DECC/Defra. For example, the analysis of
NF3 (a powerful GHG showing a steady growth in the atmosphere)
was used by DECC as an
evidence base for international negotiations. NF3 was
subsequently included in the list of possible
new Kyoto Protocol gases due to its rapidly rising concentration and high
The Mace Head measurements have been used in a large number of
publications. This is widely
regarded as the `Gold Standard' dataset of European measurements. As such,
it has been central
to many European Union projects on verification of GHG emissions, such as
NitroEurope, Geomon, Eurohydros, ICOS, ACTRIS and InGOS. The work detailed
document continues to play a key role in the WMO Assessments of Ozone
Depletion for which
O'Doherty served as a lead author in the 2010 report and O'Doherty
and Rigby will serve as
contributing authors in 2014. The University of Bristol also plays a key
role in IPCC Assessment
Reports with O'Doherty being a contributor to the 2007 report
Working Group 1, Chapter 2 and
Rigby being a contributor to the 2013 report. Of the first nine
figures and tables in Chapter 2 of the
2007 report, seven showed, or were in part based on, AGAGE data (f).
The Bristol researchers are continuing to communicate the importance of
global and regional GHG
emissions verification to policymakers at the highest level. The work of O'Doherty
and the ACRG
featured prominently in a recent Parliamentary Office of Science and
Technology POSTNote, to be
read by members of parliament, entitled "Reporting Greenhouse Gas
Sources to corroborate the impact
(a) Annual and final reports written for DECC are made public and
can be accessed from the
DECC website (https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/uk-greenhouse-gas-emissions-monitoring-and-verification/)
and also Met Office website
(b) UNFCCC UK National Inventory Submission (NIR), Section 1.6.2
and Annex 10.
(c) Data from the AGAGE network are available at the Carbon
Dioxide Information Analysis
Center (CDIAC); this is the primary climate-change data and analysis
centre of the US
Department of Energy (http://cdiac.ornl.gov/).
Data are also made available to the World
Data Centre for Greenhouse Gases; this is a WDC under the GAW programme
(Prinn and Weiss)
(d) DECC's Earth Observation strategy:
(e) Greenhouse gases UK project website (http://www.greenhouse-gases.org.uk).
(f) Data from AGAGE is included in World Meteorological
Organisation (WMO) Scientific
Assessment of Ozone Depletion and Intergovernmental Panel on Climate
assessments; these documents can be accessed from the following websites:
(g) The work at Mace Head has been selected by the Parliamentary
Office of Science and
Technology for inclusion in POSTNOTE No. 420, Jan. 2013 "Reporting GHG
(h) Statements about the importance of the funded work can be
obtained from different
agencies: DECC ((Champion), NASA (Prinn and Weiss), NOAA (Butler).