This document summarises the outcomes from the various activities and discussions, collating the notes provided by facilitators, discussion chairs and rapporteurs. Several key areas for future research are identified to enable the community to develop these suggestions into concrete strategy documents and project proposals.

Download: Results, notes and transcripts (PDF, 1.0 MB).

Background

The NERC-funded Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Feedback (GHG) Programme organised a 2-day "Greenhouse Gas Townhall Meeting", hosted at the National Oceanography Centre (NOC) in Southampton, a bottom-up community strategy meeting that brought together 63 scientists from the atmospheric, terrestrial and oceanographic research communities and identify key areas for future greenhouse gas research in the UK. Besides members of the GHG Programme partner projects (GAUGE, GREENHOUSE and RAGNARoCC), we invited active researchers who are not part of these projects, aiming to cover the whole range of UK research.

Recognising that different communities have different traditions, the main focus of the meeting were activities and structured discussions to enable productive networking between the diverse communities and identify concrete research gaps and priorities for the future in a bottom-up approach, based on the experience and ideas of all participants.

This document summarises the outcomes from the various activities and discussions, collating the notes provided by facilitators, discussion chairs and rapporteurs. Several key areas for future research are identified to enable the community to develop these suggestions into concrete strategy documents and project proposals.

Aims and structure of the meeting

The meeting had two aims: to bring the diverse research communities in the UK together, and to identify research gaps and priorities for the future. We used a bottom-up approach, encouraging all participants to contribute their experience, ideas and thoughts freely, and avoided the top-down approach of prescribing topics or promoting particular priorities. This was achieved by a series of structured activities and breakout discussions, starting with a general knowledge- and ideas-pooling activity that fed into two rounds of increasingly specific breakout discussions.

To give participants an opportunity to present their own research, the discussions were complemented by a poster session and a “2-minute-madness” session, in which 18 individual researchers and research groups highlighted their work in 2-minute teaser presentations. A few selected keynote talks provided background information. The presentations are available for download.

Suggested themes and key areas for research

Some common research themes can be identified from the discussions, and we suggest some of these should be developed into ideas for strategic research to the NERC SPAG. The list is vaguely grouped into related areas for easier reading (comments in brackets refer to sections in the notes):

Specific regions or systems

  • Methane in the Arctic, in ESM (Breakout 2-1), processes and monitoring (Breakout 2-3)
  • Methane in the tropics, in ESM (Breakout 2-1), processes and monitoring (Breakout 2-3)
  • N2O focussed campaign in South Asia (Breakout 2-3) (links to “methane in tropics” above)
  • Tropical rainforest feedback with climate (Breakout 2-3)
  • Catchment to shelf (rivers, estuaries) process studies (Breakout 2-2) and land-ocean C&N fluxes (Breakout 2-4)
  • Industrial offshore infrastructure: Impacts (Breakout 2-2), but also opportunities to use as research platforms at the sea-air interface (Carousel F)

Cycles and stores

  • N-C cycle, impacts on GHG in ESM (Breakout 2-1), N&C land-ocean fluxes (Breakout 2-4)
  • Temporal variability of sources and sinks (in ESM) (Breakout 2-1)
  • Stability of global C stores (Breakout 2-4)
  • Carbon cycle global synthesis (Breakout 2-3)
  • UK GHG budget monitoring (Breakout 2-3)

Processes and mechanisms

  • Other GHGs (besides CO2, CH4, N2O), their representation in ESM (Breakout 2-1) and monitoring (Breakout 2-3, Carousel G)
  • Dynamic ecosystems in ESM (Breakout 2-1) and consequences of ecosystem shifts/biome changes (Breakout 2-4)
  • Methane oxidation (Breakout 2-4)
  • Biomass burning as GHG drivers (Breakout 2-2)

Techniques

  • Metrics (Breakout 2-1)
  • Isotopic and molecular/chemical tracers (Breakout 2-4)
  • Autonomous (robotic) sampling of GHG (Breakout 2-3, Carousel F and G)

One breakout group (2-4) also suggested general “Rules” or “tests” for considering the scope of project suggestions in order to interest a wide array of scientists:

  1. The proposal could be applicable at all scales (from molecular to global)
  2. The proposal could cross all subject domains (i.e. terrestrial, fresh water, marine and atmospheric sciences).

For more details and background for these general ideas, see the full notes and transcripts (PDF, 1.0 MB).