Campus News

Battle's Science Article Cited as Widely Influential

Story posted July 28, 2005

An article in which Bowdoin Assistant Professor of Physics and Astronomy Mark Battle is lead author has been named one of the most influential articles in environmental science by Essential Science Indicators.

"Global Carbon Sinks and Their Variability Inferred from Atmospheric 02 and δ13C," which appeared in the March 2000 issue of the journal Science, has received 136 professional citations to date, placing it in the top one percent of articles in its field.

The article, which Battle published with six co-authors from several institutions, presented atmospheric data gathered from 1991-1997. Their data were collected from air samples taken from stations around the globe - ranging from the north slope of Alaska to the coast of Antarctica. Samples were sent to Princeton University for analysis of their oxygen content and to a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration lab for analysis of their C02 content.

"It has long been known that only about a third of the C02 released in the combustion of fossil fuels stays up in the atmosphere," notes Battle. "The balance is taken up by land plants and dissolves in the oceans.

"We were able to show that of the remaining two-thirds, 60 percent ends up in the oceans and 40 percent is taken up by land plants. This is in contrast to the 1980s, when the land biosphere appears to have not been accumulating any carbon."

The study is part of Battle's ongoing research on atmospheric composition and climate change, some of which includes analysis of firn (snow pack) air in Antarctica. More recently, Battle co-authored an article published in 2004 in the Journal of Geophysical Research titled, "A 350-Year Atmospheric History for Carbonyl Sulfide Inferred from Antarctic Firn Air and Air Trapped in Ice."

Battle joined the Bowdoin faculty in 2000. He will return to Antarctica in January 2006 for continued research, with support from a National Science Foundation grant.

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