Bremen Participates in Research Flights over Canada

Methane is produced by oil and gas extraction, coal mining, landfills, farming, wetlands, and thawing permafrost areas. But what are the exact numbers for each source? To find out, the HALO research aircraft has been operating over Canada – with researchers from the University of Bremen on board.

“Methane in the Earth’s atmosphere is considered one of the most important greenhouse gases, but there remains an insufficient understanding of its natural and man-made sources,” says Dr. Heinrich Bovensmann from the Institute of Environmental Physics at the University of Bremen. To shed light on this matter, the University of Bremen is involved in CoMet 2.0 Arctic (Carbon Dioxide and Methane Mission for HALO). Managed by the German Aerospace Center, the project also includes the Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry in Jena and the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich as part of the consortium. “Using Canada as our guinea pig, we want to make more accurate and comprehensive measurements of greenhouse gas emissions, and use the data to improve climate forecasts,” says Dr. Bovensmann in outlining the mission’s objective.

Large Amounts of Methane from Coal Mines, Landfills, and Oil Sands

In August and September 2022, researchers at the University of Bremen successfully tested MAMAP2D Light, an innovative instrument for imaging methane from local sources. Particularly high methane concentrations were imaged over open coal mines in the Rocky Mountains, over landfills, and over the Athabasca oil sands.

In addition to the University of Bremen’s imaging instrument, the aircraft featured a lidar device from the German Aerospace Center, a hyperspectral imaging instrument from the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich, and measuring instruments from the Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry. In an international effort, the HALO research aircraft’s measurements were supplemented by measured data from Canadian and American colleagues on land and in the air. The next few months will be dedicated to evaluating and analyzing the measured data obtained.

About HALO

The HALO (High Altitude and LOng Range) research aircraft is a joint initiative of German research institutions. HALO is funded by contributions from the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research, the German Research Foundation, the Helmholtz Association, the Max Planck Society, the Leibniz Association, the Free State of Bavaria, the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, the Forschungszentrum Jülich, and the German Aerospace Center.

Further Information:


Dr. Heinrich Bovensmann
Institute of Environmental Physics (IUP)
University of Bremen
Tel.: +49 421 218-62102


The HALO research aircraft approaching Edmonton, Canada.