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Atmospheric Chemistry Research Group

Isoprene Emission from Tropical Forests


I am a first year PhD Student, supervised by Prof Neil Harris (now based at Cranfield University) and Prof Rod Jones. My PhD investigates isoprene and other biogenic VOC emissions from tropical forests and the development of novel field-robust gas chromatography instruments to run autonomously in selected field sites in Malaysian Borneo.


Isoprene Emission


Isoprene is an unsaturated hydrocarbon (C5H8) that is emitted from certain species of plants. It's emission accounts for a third of global emissions of hydrocarbons, with rate of 600 million tons per annum, equivalent to methane emission levels. Rapidly oxidised in the air, its subsequent chemistry plays a significant part in determining atmospheric composition and the oxidising capacity of the troposphere.  I am investigating how the emission rate varies across season timescales, across various land-use gradients as well as measuring individual species emission rates by deploying the instrument in various sites. In Nov/Dec 2015 I joined a field campaign to measure tree leaf-traits, where the isoprene emission rate of a large number of tree species was determined and the prototype instrument was successfully deployed for short timescales.


The iDirac


The iDirac is the novel portable gas chromatography instrument that has been developed in our lab and has allowed the possibility of long term measurements from various sites in tropical forests. It's rugged and lightweight design and low power/carrier gas requirements allows the instrument to withstand the hot, humid environment of the tropical forest and permits transport by foot to various sites without a power source. Existing bench-top GC instruments are severely limited by their weight, power and carrier gas demands and their sensitivity to harsh environments. The iDirac uses a photoionization detector with a dual column system to sample the air for isoprene concentration, however it has the capability to select for other VOCs, for example monoterpenes, ethene or benzene.



Graduate student

Telephone number

01223 336518 (shared)

Email address