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Observing Carbon Dioxide Emissions at Regional Scales

Final Report Summary - OCDERS (Observing Carbon Dioxide Emissions at Regional Scales)

Project Objectives:
Dr Heather Graven is a lecturer at Imperial College London, UK with expertise in observations and modelling of atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2), its isotopic composition, and related tracers in climate and carbon cycle science. She worked previously at Scripps Institution of Oceanography in California, USA. The CIG has supported her integration into the UK and Europe, in particular the establishment of new research directions and collaboration in Europe.

Main research themes involve the investigation of emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) from fossil fuel combustion, which account for the vast majority of greenhouse gas emissions, and their impacts on the global carbon cycle using atmospheric observations. Dr Graven is developing the use of atmospheric observation and modelling to distinguish CO2 derived from fossil fuel emissions and quantify fossil fuel emission rates and their uncertainties. She is also investigating how present and future CO2 emissions are affecting carbon reservoirs and ecosystems on land and in the ocean. Other research is focused on emissions of methane (CH4) and the use of atmospheric observation and modelling to distinguish emissions from fossil fuel and biogenic sources.

Main Results:
In the last four years, Dr Graven has continued collaborative work in the US and initiated new collaborations in the UK and Europe. She has authored or coauthored 12 papers, with 4 in review. She has been awarded research funding from the UK Royal Society, the UK Natural Environment Research Council and the European Research Council. The CIG funding has supported travel, research and publication costs.

Dr Graven’s position at Imperial College London is permanent and she is currently under consideration for promotion. Over the last four years she has attended several training workshops, gained teaching experience, and received mentoring from senior colleagues in her department. She has also been active in outreach; she participated in several events with the public and policymakers including the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, she wrote a feature article in Physics Today magazine, she co-authored two topical briefing papers for non-scientists, and there have been 100+ articles in the media featuring her work.

Development of several proposals and publications have received key support from the CIG funds, including a successful ERC Starting Grant proposal and a sole-authored publication in the Proceedings of the US National Academy of Science. The funding allowed her to participate in meetings planning the biogeochemical simulations for the 6th Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP6), where she led the compilation of isotopic data for atmospheric CO2 (Graven et al. GMD 2017), and co-authored two protocol papers (Orr et al. GMD 2017, Jones et al. GMD 2016). The funding supported return travel to California to continue leading a NASA-funded project to conduct atmospheric observations and modelling of CO2 and related tracers to estimate fossil fuel emissions and biospheric CO2 exchange. Dr Graven used CIG funds for travel to conferences and to other universities to give seminars and build her network in Europe, and for laboratory and computing resources.