skip to primary navigationskip to content

C311: The global methane budget (Lead Supervisor: John Pyle, Chemistry)

Supervisors: John Pyle (Chemistry) and Alex Archibald (Chemistry)

Importance of the area of research:

Methane is the second most important greenhouse gas. Its concentration in the atmosphere has followed a very variable and poorly understood upward trajectory during the last few decades. Its natural sources include wetlands, termites and animal emissions, with possible large future sources as the high Arctic warms. Anthropogenic sources include gas extraction, including unconventional sources.  If we are to confidently predict future climate change, it is crucial that the budget of methane is understood. This information is also crucial for effective policy advice, and an area of expertise of the supervisors.

Project summary:

Measurements of methane, and its isotopes, will be combined with numerical modelling simulations to improve our understanding of the global methane budget. Existing and new measurements will be combined to provide a time-varying global estimate of recent change. Numerical simulations, with sources varying by type and region, will be iterated to reach agreement with the observations. In this way, we will provide new constraints on methane emission strength and distribution.

What the student will do:

You will contribute to an improved understanding of the methane budget by combining new measurements of methane, and its isotopes, with numerical modelling.  The new data will come from field projects in which the project supervisors are involved, and in which you will play a role. The modelling tools include regional inversion models and the UKCA chemistry-climate model, which we have helped develop.

Please contact the lead supervisor directly for further information relating to what the successful applicant will be expected to do, training to be provided, and any specific educational background requirements.


O'Shea, S. J. et al., Methane and carbon dioxide fluxes and their regional scalability for the European Arctic wetlands during the MAMM project in summer 2012, Atmos. Chem. Phys., 14, 13159-13174, doi:10.5194/acp-14-13159-2014, 2014.

A Quiquet, AT Archibald, AD Friend, J Chappellaz, JG Levine, EJ Stone, PJ Telford, JA Pyle – The relative importance of methane sources and sinks over the Last Interglacial period and into the last glaciation, Quaternary Science Reviews (2015) 112, 1 (DOI: 10.1016/j.quascirev.2015.01.004)

Nisbet, E.G; Dlugokencky, E.J.; Bousquet, P., Methane on the Rise-Again, Science, Vol. 343, No. 6170, 493-495, 2014.

Follow this link to find out about how to apply for this project. 


Filed under: