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Plans afoot for UK’s first purpose-built greenhouse gas observatory in Scotland

Computer impression of the proposed GHG observatory at Balruddery farm
“Science was at the heart of COP26, providing evidence of how much damage was being done due to climate warming from greenhouse gases but there are still contested issues about exactly how much GHG are being produced from land and a need to know if planned mitigations will work”

Following on the back of COP26, planning proposals are being put forward to build the UK’s first purpose-built tall tower for directly measuring greenhouse gases from land at the James Hutton Institute’s Balruddery Farm, in Angus near Dundee.

The state-of-the-art facility is designed as a £1m, 100-metre-tall tower. It will enable the UK to monitor and so mitigate climate change by allowing scientists to measure the composition of greenhouse gases directly and then to model changes mathematically over the coming years and decades.

The design allows air samples to be collected from the top of the tower at 100m, where air arrives from right across Scotland on prevailing winds. Instruments and sensors at ground level would then measure concentrations of the gases responsible for climate change, and changes in the levels of these gases will be interpreted by scientists across the UK to calculate greenhouse gas emissions from the land.

Tracking whether emissions are deviating from expected declines will provide an early indicator of whether actions and policies are having the required effect or not and allow governments to adjust their plans.

Dr Jagadeesh Yeluripati, a research leader at the James Hutton Institute and co-lead of the project to build the observatory, said: “At COP26 in Glasgow, nations agreed that climate change is the biggest problem facing humanity and that decarbonisation of the global economy needs to begin immediately. The Scottish Government has also set an ambitious target for Scotland to become ‘net-zero’ in greenhouse gas emissions by 2045.

“Science was at the heart of COP26, providing evidence of how much damage was being done due to climate warming from greenhouse gases but there are still contested issues about exactly how much GHG are being produced from land and a need to know if planned mitigations will work.”

Dr Tim Arnold, lead of the project and an atmospheric scientist at the University of Edinburgh, added: “Objective scientific evidence is needed to verify progress towards the net-zero emissions target. Our state-of-the-art new monitoring system will aid in this verification by allowing the effect of Scotland’s climate actions to be monitored closely by continuous measurement of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. This monitoring will help local and national policymakers to decide the best course of action to reach our climate goals. Currently there is no atmospheric greenhouse gas sampling in Scotland that can support this national action.

“Balruddery’s location in eastern Scotland and dominant westerly winds means that measuring gases in the atmosphere here allows emissions from right across Scotland to be tracked, including emissions from agriculture.”

The proposed development has been designed with considerations in place to minimise local disturbance. A ‘free-standing’ tower structure has been chosen over a guy-wired version to reduce ground disturbance, visual impact and ecological disruption and increase security and safety.

The project is a collaboration between the University of Edinburgh and the James Hutton Institute, with policy support from the Scottish Government and additional backing from the Met Office, the National Physical Laboratory and the universities of Bristol and Strathclyde. It is completely financed through UK Research and Innovation’s Natural Environment Research Council to support climate science in the UK.

More information about the project can be found at https://blogs.ed.ac.uk/soar/.

Press and media enquiries: 

Bernardo Rodriguez-Salcedo, Media Manager, James Hutton Institute Tel: +44 (0)1224 395089 (direct line), +44 (0)344 928 5428 (switchboard) or +44 (0)7791 193918 (mobile).


Printed from /news/plans-afoot-uk%E2%80%99s-first-purpose-built-greenhouse-gas-observatory-scotland on 26/05/22 05:45:59 PM

The James Hutton Research Institute is the result of the merger in April 2011 of MLURI and SCRI. This merger formed a new powerhouse for research into food, land use, and climate change.