As mitigation of climate change is a key scientific and societal challenge, MEMO2 will contribute by focusing on methane (CH4), one of Europe’s most important sources of energy. The 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris (COP21) agreed to limit global warming “well below” 2oC and, if possible, below 1.5oC. Reaching this target requires massive reductions of greenhouse gas emissions, far beyond the Intended Nationally Determined Contributions. CH4 emissions are a major contributor to Europe’s global warming impact, but Europe’s CH4 emissions are not well quantified. Effective emission reduction can only be achieved if sources are properly quantified, and mitigation efforts are verified.
MEMO2 will help to identify and evaluate CH4 emissions and support mitigation measures by:
I) Developing novel measurement and modelling tools for emission detection and quantification
Scientific focus will be on the local and regional emissions in various regions of Europe, because this is the scale where emission reductions happen. However, such reductions are at present mostly reported by bottom-up assessment, but not independently confirmed by top-down measurements and models. The main scientific goal of MEMO2 is to develop and apply innovative experimental and modelling tools, based on recently developed mobile analyzers, on state-of-the-art isotope techniques, and on a hierarchy of models, including newly developed high-resolution dispersion models, to identify and quantify CH4 emissions from local sources in Europe and use these updated emissions to improve estimates at the European scale.
II) Educating qualified scientists in the use and implementation of interdisciplinary knowledge and techniques that are essential to meet and verify emission reduction goals
A dedicated training program includes original actions to reinforce the autonomy (learning-by-doing approaches) and the maturity (student autonomous virtual network) of the MEMO2 early stage researchers (ESRs). This ensemble of training actions will help them to refine their career plan, either within the scientific community, or in the non-academic sector. MEMO2 will facilitate intensive collaboration between the largely academic greenhouse gas monitoring community and non-academic partners who are responsible for evaluating and reporting greenhouse gas emissions to policy makers.
MEMO2 is organized in 5 Work Packages (WPs), whereas the PhD projects are grouped in 3 scientific Work Packages, accompanied by a training and a management Work Package.
The scientific WPs are strongly interconnected. In the first WP, participants and non-academic partners will carry out mobile measurements across Europe. In the second we use state-of-the-art isotope techniques to attribute observed CH4 elevations to individual sources. The third WP will develop novel tools to translate these CH4 elevations into emissions and to integrate local measurements from WP1 and WP2 to the European scale. The scientific WPs share a common objective and complement each other by detecting, attributing, and quantifying CH4 emissions in Europe using measurements on mobile platforms.
Interaction between the different scientific WPs is clearly implemented in the research program of the MEMO2 project by the incorporation of several win-win activities such as joint sampling and measurement campaigns including their planning or sharing of data and their interpretation to obtain a EU-wide distribution of the major CH4 source categories and their isotopic composition.
Beside the scientific WPs the training WP plays an important role in this type of project. The MEMO2 training program follows a holistic approach including disciplinary/interdisciplinary elements, individual/collective training, and theoretical/practical courses, all aiming to prepare the PhD students with key competences to tackle scientifically complex and societally relevant issues. Targeted competences in MEMO2 are the ability to: I) effectively and interactively use and develop tools such as innovative technologies, knowledge, and languages in an interdisciplinary way, II) act autonomously within the “big picture” of climate sciences, III) function and interact synergistically within a socially heterogeneous group, and IV) responsibly conduct and manage a challenging research project within 3 years.