Shirley-Anne Somerville MSP with CEH environmental physicist Dr Eiko Nemitz

Shirley-Anne Somerville MSP with CEH environmental physicist Dr Eiko Nemitz

Scottish Government Science Minister Shirley-Anne Somerville visited Auchencorth Moss this week with scientists from the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology (CEH).

Auchencorth Moss, near Edinburgh, is one of two ‘measurement supersites’ in the UK for atmospheric composition change and fluxes of trace gases and aerosol concentrations. It is also a regional station within the World Meteorological Organisation’s Global Atmosphere Watch programme.

Researchers from the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology’s Atmospheric Chemistry and Effects science area based in Edinburgh guided Ms Somerville and Tim Wheeler, NERC's director of research and innovation, around the site.

They provided briefings on its significance and how the long-term monitoring conducted by the centre has fed into critical Scottish, UK and global environmental research and underpinned decision-making.

Dr Marsailidh Twigg, an Atmospheric Chemist, demonstrated the equipment used to monitor particulate matter and ammonia in the atmosphere, while Dr Amy Pickard explained how the team investigated carbon flows in waterways from the site. John Kentisbeer provided insight into his work monitoring atmospheric mercury levels.

Ms Somerville, who is Minister for Further Education, Higher Education and Science, said: “The Scottish Government continues to highly value international scientific collaborations that are key to maintaining our research excellence.

“It is of great importance to both Scotland and globally that work such as that at CEH Auchencorth Moss continues to deliver reliable scientific evidence far into the future.”  

Dr Stefan Reis, head of CEH's Atmospheric Chemistry and Effects science area, said: "Auchencorth Moss is an internationally valuable site for air quality monitoring.    Scottish science minister Shirley-Anne Somerville at Auchencorth Moss with CEH scientists

"We have collected over 20 years of data from the site, and
currently we are focused on three main areas of research:
surface-atmosphere exchange and fluxes, atmospheric composition change and carbon flows.

"We were pleased the minister came to find out more about our research, and we will continue to work with the Scottish Government and its agencies and contribute to the knowledge base for Scotland’s air, freshwater and land use policies.”      

Additional information

Auchencorth Moss is one of UK’s most important monitoring sites and is the only one in Scotland to produce real-time information on particle composition, allowing a quick response to pollution events. Long-term monitoring there is led by CEH with contributions from other research organisations. To find out more, visit

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