BLOG: MAMM - And as if by magic

Published: 30 Jun 2014

Sun 29 June 2014

It’s 06:09am on a Sunday, and I am sitting on a train bound for London. I am glad that most people seem to be travellers who have slept and deliberately got up early for the train, and don’t look like they have been partying until dawn. I’m not sure I could handle such revelry at this previously unknown hour on a Sunday.

The only reason I am not only awake, but also out and about, is that I’m heading to Heathrow to begin my journey up to Kiruna in Northern Sweden for the final batch of field work for MAMM, which has been christened MAGIC because it's a collaboration between several different projects (and presumably someone thought that MAGIC sounded pretty cool). Like in previous years, this is quite an epic journey. As my colleague Ines and I want to arrive reasonably early on Monday in Kiruna (so we can do the research flight in the afternoon), we are heading to Stockholm today, staying the night, and then getting an even earlier flight tomorrow to Kiruna. Luckily, we are staying over on a converted Jumbo Jet, which is pretty much at the airport. So I’ll get a lie in tomorrow.

The research flight tomorrow is to be a wetland survey. We have done these kinds of flights on previous years, so we want to repeat it to see if we get the same results this time. We are measuring methane over the wetlands, to see if different types of bogs, swamps, forests and fens give off different amounts of methane. We also want to see how the methane changes from season to season, and depending on the recent weather.

Two years ago we flew a few weeks later in July. This year will be the earliest we’ve been (the research aircraft arrives on 30 June), so you might expect it to be the coolest. I looked at the forecasts though, and it looks quite warm (possibly 15C where we’re going), so there’s a chance it’ll be warmer than some of the periods we’ve been before! I think northern Sweden is a little bit like the UK in that respect – you don’t know quite when the hottest part of the summer is going to be, and don’t be too surprised to get rain at any time!

Dr Michelle Cain, University of Cambridge

Photos courtesy of Michelle Cain, University of Cambridge

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