Prof. Thomas Roeckmann is a professor at Utrecht University, the Netherlands, where he is currently the chair of atmospheric physics and chemistry. Thomas has a long history of working in greenhouse gas research where his interests include development of devices for sampling atmospheric trace gases, global trace gas budgets, stratospheric chemistry and exchanges, development of isotopic measurement techniques, investigation of isotopic effects, and paleo-atmospheric research.
Thomas is the scientific coordinator of the European MEMO2 project, a training network for developing mobile methane measurements and modelling at different scales.
Mitigation of climate change as targeted in the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris (COP21) requires massive reductions of greenhouse gas emissions, far beyond the Intended Nationally Determined Contributions. Natural gas is one of Europe's most important sources of energy, and CH4 emissions are a major contributor to Europe's global warming impact. With a rather short lifetime of 10 years, methane (CH4) is an attractive target for short- and medium-term climate change mitigation. In particular CH4 emission reductions related to natural gas production and distribution are considered "no-regret" solutions, since they represent both an economic loss and a threat for climate, and can often be realized in a cost-effective way.
On global and continental scales, the scientific community assesses atmospheric CH4 by in situ monitoring programs, which provide precise "top-down" quantification of emissions on a large scale, but is by design not sensitive to local emissions from individual sources. In contrast, emission reductions happen at the local scale, where emission estimates usually rely on "bottom-up" assessments which are not independently confirmed by top-down measurements and models. The recent development of mobile high-precision methane monitors present new opportunities to quantify methane emissions from local sources.
Within the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Initial Training network MEMO2 (Methane goes Mobile - Measurements and Modelling) we develop and apply innovative experimental and modelling tools, based on recently developed mobile analysers, on state-of-the-art isotope techniques, and on a hierarchy of models, to identify and quantify methane emissions from local sources of CH4 in Europe. The project specifically includes cross-sectoral collaboration between the scientific and the industrial sector. In addition, within MEMO2 we educate a generation of young scientists that will be able to effectively develop and use novel measurement and modelling tools in an interdisciplinary and intersectoral context.
We have now built up significant measurement and modelling capacity in several European countries, where individual groups help quantifying and reducing CH4 emissions on the local and regional scale. In addition, the MEMO2 consortium collaborates with numerous analysers and modelling tools in larger projects to target larger emission regions. I will highlight a few examples of CH4 of successful emission detection, attribution and quantification from the MEMO2 activities.