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biogeochemistry, chromatography, spectroscopy & spectrometry, modeling & simulation, data analysis


Key Points:

  • Identify sources of greenhouse gases on campus and in the surrounding region.

  • Monitor and sample greenhouse gases using field techniques.

  • Characterize methane sources using state-of-the-art laboratory instrumentation.

  • Quantify methane generation and transport using numerical modeling and spatial analysis.

  •  Generate actionable information to address atmospheric methane.

Detailed Description:

Methane is sourced from fossil fuels, landfills, agriculture, plants, wastewater, and microbial activity in streams and wetlands. Methane is the second most significant driver of greenhouse warming and has a short enough lifetime to be a primary target for mitigation.


Working with the FIRE Project Greenhouse stream, you will create a methane budget of the University of Maryland campus and surrounding region in order to generate actionable information about its sources and sinks of methane. Your collection and analysis of methane will combine field, laboratory, and modeling approaches and address a diverse suite of questions for you to investigate. Findings of your research will provide a map of methane sources that will guide effective climate policy. 


Key Points:

  • ​Climate change is the biggest challenge to face society in our lifetime.

  • Reducing methane emissions may be the best hope to stem near-term climate change.

  • Developing appropriate policy requires an understanding of methane sources and sinks.

Detailed Description:

Climate change is a crisis multiplier that exacerbates conflict and inequity by stressing food production and water availability, threatening public health, damaging infrastructure, and displacing communities.


Reducing methane emissions will slow climate change in the near term because of its short atmospheric lifetime. However, methane emissions need to be better constrained and proper assessment requires direct measurement.


A detailed methane inventory of the area will aid the campus and wider Maryland community in their sustainability and long-term planning. Additionally, the inventory will lay the necessary groundwork for future regional studies of methane cycling.


Key Points:

  • Acquire a fundamental understanding of how Earth’s climate system functions

  • Develop proficiency in standard environmental laboratory techniques and characterize greenhouse gases using the state-of-the-art Panorama mass spectrometer.

  • Build numerical (MATLAB, STELLA), statistical, and spatial (GIS) models to interpret and analyze data.

  • Compose professional reports to inform climate and environmental policies relevant to your campus and local communities. 


Detailed Description:

In compiling a methane inventory, you will participate in the experimental design and sampling protocol at campus sites and formulate, test, and validate hypotheses in the field and lab. You will learn standard environmental laboratory techniques such as gas chromatography, cryogenic separation, and spectroscopy as well as isotopic characterization of methane using the Panorama mass spectrometer, one of only two in the United States.


During data analysis and interpretation, you will learn and apply numerical modeling techniques (MATLAB, STELLA), atmospheric transport models, and GIS/spatial analysis that you can further explore based on your interests and questions. Throughout the course, you will refine writing and communication skills through peer-review workshops and presentations. At the end of the program, the Stream will submit a professional paper and each team will present at the FIRE Summit.

Related Resources

More information soon.

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