Project Scientist

Research Interests

  • AGAGE (Advanced Global Atmospheric Gases Experiment)
  • Greenhouse gases
  • Halogenated trace gases
  • Ozone depleting compounds
  • Trace gas measurements (especially GC-FID/ECD/MSD)
  • Global warming
  • Top-down (measurement based) verification of bottom-up emission estimates
  • Atmospheric chemistry
  • Wildfire emissions
  • Long-range transport of pollutants


  • Diploma in Chemistry, University of Wuppertal
  • Doctor of Natural Sciences, Max Planck Institute for Chemistry, Mainz and Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz

Recent Publications

Simmonds, PG, Rigby M, McCulloch A, O'Doherty S, Young D, Mühle J, Krummel PB, Steele P, Fraser PJ, Manning AJ, Weiss RF, Salameh PK, Harth CM, Wang RHJ, Prinn RG.  2017.  Changing trends and emissions of hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs) and their hydrofluorocarbon (HFCs) replacements. Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics. 17:4641-4655.: Copernicus Publications   10.5194/acp-17-4641-2017   AbstractWebsite
Rigby, M, Montzka SA, Prinn RG, White JWC, Young D, O’Doherty S, Lunt MF, Ganesan AL, Manning AJ, Simmonds PG, Salameh PK, Harth CM, Mühle J, Weiss RF, Fraser PJ, Steele PL, Krummel PB, McCulloch A, Park S.  2017.  Role of atmospheric oxidation in recent methane growth. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.   10.1073/pnas.1616426114   AbstractWebsite

The growth in global methane (CH4) concentration, which had been ongoing since the industrial revolution, stalled around the year 2000 before resuming globally in 2007. We evaluate the role of the hydroxyl radical (OH), the major CH4 sink, in the recent CH4 growth. We also examine the influence of systematic uncertainties in OH concentrations on CH4 emissions inferred from atmospheric observations. We use observations of 1,1,1-trichloroethane (CH3CCl3), which is lost primarily through reaction with OH, to estimate OH levels as well as CH3CC3 emissions, which have uncertainty that previously limited the accuracy of OH estimates. We find a 64–70% probability that a decline in OH has contributed to the post-2007 methane rise. Our median solution suggests that CH4 emissions increased relatively steadily during the late 1990s and early 2000s, after which growth was more modest. This solution obviates the need for a sudden statistically significant change in total CH4 emissions around the year 2007 to explain the atmospheric observations and can explain some of the decline in the atmospheric 13CH4/12CH4 ratio and the recent growth in C2H6. Our approach indicates that significant OH-related uncertainties in the CH4 budget remain, and we find that it is not possible to implicate, with a high degree of confidence, rapid global CH4 emissions changes as the primary driver of recent trends when our inferred OH trends and these uncertainties are considered.

Zhang, G, Yao B, Vollmer MK, Montzka SA, Mühle J, Weiss RF, O'Doherty S, Li Y, Fang S, Reimann S.  2017.  Ambient mixing ratios of atmospheric halogenated compounds at five background stations in China. Atmospheric Environment. 160:55-69.   AbstractWebsite

Abstract High precision measurements of three chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), three hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs), six hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), three perfluorocarbons (PFCs), and sulfur hexafluoride (SF6) were made at five Chinese background stations from January 2011 to December 2012. Their station means in the background air were 239.5 ± 0.69 parts-per-trillion dry-air mole fraction mixing ratios (ppt) for CFC-11, 536.5 ± 1.49 ppt for CFC-12, 74.66 ± 0.09 ppt for CFC-113, 232.1 ± 4.77 ppt for HCFC-22, 23.78 ± 0.29 ppt for HCFC-141b, 22.92 ± 0.42 ppt for HCFC-142b, 11.75 ± 0.43 ppt for HFC-125, 71.32 ± 1.35 ppt for HFC-134a, 13.62 ± 0.43 ppt for HFC-143a, 9.10 ± 1.26 ppt for HFC-152a, 25.45 ± 0.1 ppt for HFC-23, 7.28 ± 0.48 ppt for HFC-32, 4.32 ± 0.03 ppt for PFC-116, 0.63 ± 0.04 ppt for PFC-218, 1.36 ± 0.01 ppt for PFC-318, and 7.67 ± 0.03 ppt for SF6, respectively, which were comparable with those measured at the two Northern Hemisphere (NH) AGAGE stations: Mace Head, Ireland (MHD) and Trinidad Head, California, USA (THD). Compared with our results for earlier years from in-situ measurement at SDZ, background-air mixing ratios of CFCs are now declining, while those for HCFCs, HFCs, PFCs, and SF6 are still increasing. The ratios of the number of sampling events in which measured mixing ratios were elevated above background (pollution events) relative to the total sample frequency (POL/SUM) for CFCs, HCFCs, and HFCs were found to be station dependent, generally LAN > SDZ > LFS > XGL > WLG. The enhancement (△, polluted mixing ratios minus background mixing ratios) generally show distinct patterns, with HCFCs (40.7–175.4 ppt) > HFCs (15.8–66.3 ppt)> CFCs (15.8–33.8 ppt)> PFCs (0.1–0.9 ppt) at five stations, especially for HCFC-22 ranging from 36.9 ppt to 138.2 ppt. Combining with the molecular weights, our findings imply biggest emissions of HCFCs in the regions around these Chinese sites compared to HFCs and CFCs, while the smallest of PFCs, consistent with CFCs being phased out and replaced with HCFCs in China. In addition, relative emission strengths (emission was expressed by mole fractions) of these halocarbons in China were inferred as HCFC-22 > HCFC-141b > HFC-134a > HCFC-142b for the Yangtze River Delta (YRD) and as HCFC-22 > HCFC-142b > HCFC-141b ≈ HFC-134a in the North China Plain (NCP).

Trudinger, CM, Fraser PJ, Etheridge DM, Sturges WT, Vollmer MK, Rigby M, Martinerie P, Mühle J, Worton DR, Krummel PB, Steele LP, Miller BR, Laube J, Mani FS, Rayner PJ, Harth CM, Witrant E, Blunier T, Schwander J, O'Doherty S, Battle M.  2016.  Atmospheric abundance and global emissions of perfluorocarbons CF4, C2F6 and C3F8 since 1800 inferred from ice core, firn, air archive and in situ measurements. Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics. 16:11733-11754.: Copernicus Publications   10.5194/acp-16-11733-2016   AbstractWebsite
Chipperfield, MP, Liang Q, Rigby M, Hossaini R, Montzka SA, Dhomse S, Feng WH, Prinn RG, Weiss RF, Harth CM, Salameh PK, Muhle J, O'Doherty S, Young D, Simmonds PG, Krummel PB, Fraser PJ, Steele LP, Happell JD, Rhew RC, Butler J, Yvon-Lewis SA, Hall B, Nance D, Moore F, Miller BR, Elkins J, Harrison JJ, Boone CD, Atlas EL, Mahieu E.  2016.  Model sensitivity studies of the decrease in atmospheric carbon tetrachloride. Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics. 16:15741-15754.   10.5194/acp-16-15741-2016   AbstractWebsite

Carbon tetrachloride (CCl4) is an ozone-depleting substance, which is controlled by the Montreal Protocol and for which the atmospheric abundance is decreasing. However, the current observed rate of this decrease is known to be slower than expected based on reported CCl4 emissions and its estimated overall atmospheric lifetime. Here we use a three-dimensional (3-D) chemical transport model to investigate the impact on its predicted decay of uncertainties in the rates at which CCl4 is removed from the atmosphere by photolysis, by ocean uptake and by degradation in soils. The largest sink is atmospheric photolysis (74% of total), but a reported 10% uncertainty in its combined photolysis cross section and quantum yield has only a modest impact on the modelled rate of CCl4 decay. This is partly due to the limiting effect of the rate of transport of CCl4 from the main tropospheric reservoir to the stratosphere, where photolytic loss occurs. The model suggests large interannual variability in the magnitude of this stratospheric photolysis sink caused by variations in transport. The impact of uncertainty in the minor soil sink (9% of total) is also relatively small. In contrast, the model shows that uncertainty in ocean loss (17% of total) has the largest impact on modelled CCl4 decay due to its sizeable contribution to CCl4 loss and large lifetime uncertainty range (147 to 241 years). With an assumed CCl4 emission rate of 39 Gg year(-1), the reference simulation with the best estimate of loss processes still underestimates the observed CCl4 (overestimates the decay) over the past 2 decades but to a smaller extent than previous studies. Changes to the rate of CCl4 loss processes, in line with known uncertainties, could bring the model into agreement with in situ surface and remote-sensing measurements, as could an increase in emissions to around 47 Gg year(-1). Further progress in constraining the CCl4 budget is partly limited by systematic biases between observational datasets. For example, surface observations from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) network are larger than from the Advanced Global Atmospheric Gases Experiment (AGAGE) network but have shown a steeper decreasing trend over the past 2 decades. These differences imply a difference in emissions which is significant relative to uncertainties in the magnitudes of the CCl4 sinks.

Trudinger, CM, Fraser PJ, Etheridge DM, Sturges WT, Vollmer MK, Rigby M, Martinerie P, Muhle J, Worton DR, Krummel PB, Steele LP, Miller BR, Laube J, Mani FS, Rayner PJ, Harth CM, Witrant E, Blunier T, Schwander J, O'Doherty S, Battle M.  2016.  Atmospheric abundance and global emissions of perfluorocarbons CF4, C2F6 and C3F8 since 1800 inferred from ice core, firn, air archive and in situ measurements. Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics. 16:11733-11754.   10.5194/acp-16-11733-2016   AbstractWebsite

Perfluorocarbons (PFCs) are very potent and long-lived greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, released predominantly during aluminium production and semiconductor manufacture. They have been targeted for emission controls under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. Here we present the first continuous records of the atmospheric abundance of CF4 (PFC-14), C2F6 (PFC-116) and C3F8 (PFC-218) from 1800 to 2014. The records are derived from high-precision measurements of PFCs in air extracted from polar firn or ice at six sites (DE08, DE08-2, DSSW20K, EDML, NEEM and South Pole) and air archive tanks and atmospheric air sampled from both hemispheres. We take account of the age characteristics of the firn and ice core air samples and demonstrate excellent consistency between the ice core, firn and atmospheric measurements. We present an inversion for global emissions from 1900 to 2014. We also formulate the inversion to directly infer emission factors for PFC emissions due to aluminium production prior to the 1980s. We show that 19th century atmospheric levels, before significant anthropogenic influence, were stable at 34.1 +/- 0.3 ppt for CF4 and below detection limits of 0.002 and 0.01 ppt for C2F6 and C3F8, respectively. We find a significant peak in CF4 and C2F6 emissions around 1940, most likely due to the high demand for aluminium during World War II, for example for construction of aircraft, but these emissions were nevertheless much lower than in recent years. The PFC emission factors for aluminium production in the early 20th century were significantly higher than today but have decreased since then due to improvements and better control of the smelting process. Mitigation efforts have led to decreases in emissions from peaks in 1980 (CF4) or early-to-mid-2000s (C2F6 and C3F8) despite the continued increase in global aluminium production; however, these decreases in emissions appear to have recently halted. We see a temporary reduction of around 15% in CF4 emissions in 2009, presumably associated with the impact of the global financial crisis on aluminium and semiconductor production.