Mace Head Observatory, Ireland (MHD)

Mace Head Observatory, Ireland (MHD)


Lat: 53.3261°N, Lon: -9.9036°W, Alt: 5 m above see level
Sampling heights: 24 m above ground level


Located on the west coast of Ireland, the Atmospheric Research Station at Mace Head, Carna, County Galway is unique in Europe, offering westerly exposure to the North Atlantic ocean (clean sector, 180 degrees through west to 300 degrees) and the opportunity to study atmospheric composition under Northern Hemispheric background conditions as well as European continental emissions when the winds favor transport from that region.

The site location (53°20’ N, 9°54’ W) is in the path of the mid-latitude cyclones which frequently traverse the North Atlantic. Mace Head ~57km West of Galway city (~88km by road) which is the nearest major conurbation and population is 75,414 according to the 2011 census.

The main Atlantic shipping routes are over 150 km away, while the transatlantic air corridors are over 80 km away. There are three small islands offshore which are within the clean sector, but these are uninhabited and do not appear to influence any of the measurements made at the site. The meteorological records show that on average, over 60% of the air masses arrive at the station via the clean sector. These air masses are ideal for carrying out background aerosol and trace gas measurements. Significant pollution events also occur at the site when European continental air masses, generally originating from an easterly direction, reach Mace Head. The Mace Head research station is uniquely positioned for resolving these different air masses and for comparative studies of their constituents and characteristics.

Measured species

In situ and continuous : CO2, CH4, CO


M. Lopez, M. Ramonet

Station Manager : Gerry Spain


Site Web

Mace Head Web site

Mace Head Atmospheric Research Station – MaREI

Relevant publications

Batenburg, A., S. Walter, G. Pieterse, I. Levin, M. Schmidt, A. Jordan, S. Hammer, C. Yver, and T. Röckmann (2011), Temporal and spatial variability of the stable isotopic composition of atmospheric molecular hydrogen: observations at six EUROHYDROS stations, Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics, 11(14), 6985-6999,

Biraud, S., P. Ciais, M. Ramonet, P. Simmonds, V. Kazan, P. Monfray, S. O’Doherty, G. Spain, and S. G. Jennings (2002), Quantification of carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide and chloroform emissions over Ireland from atmospheric observations at Mace Head, Tellus B – Chemical and Physical Meteorology, 54(1), 41-60,

Biraud, S., P. Ciais, M. Ramonet, P. Simmonds, V. Kazan, P. Monfray, S. O’Doherty, T. G. Spain, and S. G. Jennings (2000), European greenhouse gas emissions estimated from continuous atmospheric measurements and radon 222 at Mace Head, Ireland, Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres, 105(D1), 1351-1366,

Ceburnis, D., A. Garbaras, S. Szidat, M. Rinaldi, S. Fahrni, N. Perron, L. Wacker, S. Leinert, V. Remeikis, M. Facchini, A. Prevot, S. Jennings, M. Ramonet, and C. O’Dowd (2011), Quantification of the carbonaceous matter origin in submicron marine aerosol by 13C and 14C isotope analysis, Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics, 11(16), 8593-8606,

Corbiere, A., N. Metzl, G. Reverdin, C. Brunet, and A. Takahashi (2007), Interannual and decadal variability of the oceanic carbon sink in the North Atlantic subpolar gyre, Tellus B, 59(2), 168-178.

Derwent, R. G., D. B. Ryall, A. J. Manning, P. G. Simmonds, S. O’Doherty, S. Biraud, P. Ciais, M. Ramonet, and S. G. Jennings (2002), Continuous observations of carbon dioxide at Mace Head, Ireland from 1995 to 1999 and its net European ecosystem exchange, Atmos Environ, 36(17), 2799-2807,

Derwent, R. G., P. G. Simmonds, B. R. Greally, S. O’doherty, A. McCulloch, A. Manning, S. Reimann, D. Folini, and M. K. Vollmer (2007a), The phase-in and phase-out of European emissions of HCFC-141b and HCFC-142b under the Montreal protocol: Evidence from observations at Mace Head, Ireland and Jungfraujoch, Switzerland from 1994 to 2004, Atmos Environ, 41(4), 757-767.

Derwent, R. G., P. G. Simmonds, A. J. Manning, and T. G. Spain (2007b), Trends over a 20-year period from 1987 to 2007 in surface ozone at the atmospheric research station, Mace Head, Ireland, Atmos Environ, 41(39), 9091-9098.

Derwent, R. G., P. G. Simmonds, S. O’Doherty, and R. D. B. (1998a), The impact of the Montreal protocol on halocarbon concentrations in Northern hemisphere baseline and European air masses at Mace Head, Ireland over a ten year period from 1987-1996, Atmos Environ, 32(21), 3689-3702.

Derwent, R. G., P. G. Simmonds, S. O’Doherty, P. Ciais, and D. B. Ryall (1998b), European source strengths and northern hemisphere baseline concentrations of radiatively active trace gases at Mace Head, Ireland, Atmos Environ, 32(21), 3703-3715.

Derwent, R. G., P. G. Simmonds, S. O’Doherty, D. S. Stevenson, W. J. Collins, M. G. Sanderson, C. E. Johnson, F. Dentener, J. Cofala, R. Mechler, and M. Amann (2006), External influences on Europe’s air quality: Baseline methane, carbon monoxide and ozone from 1990 to 2030 at Mace Head, Ireland, Atmos Environ, 40(5), 844-855.

Giostra, U., F. Furlani, J. Arduini, D. Cava, A. J. Manning, S. J. O’Doherty, S. Reimann, and M. Maione (2011), The determination of a “regional” atmospheric background mixing ratio for anthropogenic greenhouse gases: A comparison of two independent methods, Atmos Environ, 45(39), 7396-7405, doi:10.1016/j.atmosenv.2011.06.076.

Helfter, C., N. Mullinger, M. Vieno, S. O’Doherty, M. Ramonet, P. Palmer, and E. Nemitz (2019), Country-scale greenhouse gas budgets using shipborne measurements: a case study for the UK and Ireland, Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics, 19(5), 3043-3063, doi:10.5194/acp-19-3043-2019.

Hernández-Paniagua, I., D. Lowry, K. Clemitshaw, R. Fisher, J. France, M. Lanoisellé, M. Ramonet, and E. Nisbet (2015), Diurnal, seasonal, and annual trends in atmospheric CO2 at southwest London during 2000–2012: Wind sector analysis and comparison with Mace Head, Ireland, Atmos Environ, 105, 138 – 147, doi:10.1016/j.atmosenv.2015.01.021.

Jennings, S. G., T. G. Spain, B. G. Doddridge, H. Maring, B. P. Kelly, and A. D. A. Hansen (1996), Concurrent measurements of black carbon aerosol and carbon monoxyde at Mace Head, Journal of Geophysical Research, 101(D14), 19447-19454.

Manning, A. J., S. O’Doherty, A. R. Jones, P. G. Simmonds, and R. G. Derwent (2011), Estimating UK methane and nitrous oxide emissions from 1990 to 2007 using an inversion modeling approach, Journal of Geophysical Research-Atmospheres, 116, 19, doi:10.1029/2010jd014763.

Marrec, P., T. Cariou, E. Collin, A. Durand, M. Latimier, E. Macé, P. Morin, S. Raimund, M. Vernet, and Y. Bozec (2013), Seasonal and latitudinal variability of the CO2 system in the western English Channel based on Voluntary Observing Ship (VOS) measurements., Marine Chemistry, 155, 29-41.

Metzl, N., A. Corbière, G. Reverdin, A. Lenton, T. Takahashi, A. Olsen, T. Johannessen, D. Pierrot, R. H. Wanninkhof, S. R. Ólafsdóttir, J. Olafsson, and M. Ramonet (2010), Recent acceleration of the sea surface fCO2 growth rate in the North Atlantic subpolar gyre (1993-2008) revealed by winter observations, Global Biogeochemical Cycles, 24, 4004, doi:10.1029/2009gb003658.

Milroy, C., G. Martucci, S. Lolli, S. Loaec, L. Sauvage, I. Xueref-Remy, J. V. Lavric, P. Ciais, D. Feist, G. Biavati, and C. D. O’Dowd (2012), An assessment of pseudo-operational ground-based Light Detection And Ranging (LIDAR) sensors to determine the boundary-layer structure in the coastal atmosphere, Advances in Meteorology doi:10.1155/2012/929080

Ovadnevaite, J., D. Ceburnis, K. Plauskaite-Sukiene, R. Modini, R. Dupuy, I. Rimselyte, M. Ramonet, K. Kvietkus, Z. Ristovski, H. Berresheim, and C. D. O’Dowd (2009), Volcanic sulphate and arctic dust plumes over the North Atlantic Ocean, Atmos Environ, 43(32), 4968-4974, doi:10.1016/j.atmosenv.2009.07.007.

Resovsky, A., M. Ramonet, L. Rivier, J. Tarniewicz, P. Ciais, M. Steinbacher, I. Mammarella, M. Mölder, M. Heliasz, D. Kubistin, M. Lindauer, J. Müller-Williams, S. Conil, and R. Engelen (2021), An algorithm to detect non-background signals in greenhouse gas time series from European tall tower and mountain stations, Atmospheric Measurement Techniques, 14(9), 6119 – 6135,

Ruckstuhl, A. F., S. Henne, S. Reimann, M. Steinbacher, M. K. Vollmer, S. O’Doherty, B. Buchmann, and C. Hueglin (2012), Robust extraction of baseline signal of atmospheric trace species using local regression, Atmospheric Measurement Techniques, 5(11), 2613-2624, doi:10.5194/amt-5-2613-2012.

Ryall, D. B., R. G. Derwent, A. J. Manning, P. G. Simmonds, and S. O’Doherty (2001), Estimating source regions of European emissions of trace gases from observations at Mace Head, Atmos Environ, 35(14), 2507-2523.

Ryall, D. B., R. H. Maryon, R. G. Derwent, and P. G. Simmonds (1998), Modelling long-range transport of CFCs to Mace Head, Ireland, Q. J. Meterol. Soc., 124, 417-446.

Simmonds, P., A. Manning, R. Derwent, P. Ciais, M. Ramonet, V. Kazan, and D. Ryall (2005), A burning question. Can recent growth rate anomalies in the greenhouse gases be attributed to large-scale biomass burning events?, Atmos Environ, 39(14), 2513-2517, doi:10.1016/j.atmosenv.2005.02.018.

Simmonds, P. G., R. G. Derwent, A. J. Manning, P. J. Fraser, P. B. Krummel, S. O’Doherty, R. G. Prinn, D. M. Cunnold, B. R. Miller, H. J. Wang, D. B. Ryall, L. W. Porter, R. F. Weiss, and P. K. Salameh (2004a), AGAGE observations of methyl bromide and methyl chloride at Mace Head, Ireland, and Cape Grim, Tasmania, 1998-2001, Journal of Atmospheric Chemistry, 47(3), 243-269.

Simmonds, P. G., R. G. Derwent, A. L. Manning, and G. Spain (2004b), Significant growth in surface ozone at Mace Head, Ireland, 1987-2003, Atmos Environ, 38(28), 4769-4778.

Simmonds, P. G., R. G. Derwent, A. Mc Culloch, S. O’Doherty, and A. Gaudry (1996), Long-term trends in concentrations of halocarbons and radiatively active trace gases in Atlantic and European air masses monitored at Mace Head, Ireland from 1987-1994, Atmos Environ, 30(23), 4041-4063.

Simmonds, P. G., A. J. Manning, D. M. Cunnold, A. McCulloch, S. O’Doherty, R. G. Derwent, P. B. Krummel, P. J. Fraser, B. Dunse, L. W. Porter, R. H. J. Wang, B. R. Greally, B. R. Miller, P. Salameh, R. F. Weiss, and R. G. Prinn (2006), Global trends, seasonal cycles, and European emissions of dichloromethane, trichloroethene, and tetrachloroethene from the AGAGE observations at Mace Head, Ireland, and Cape Grim, Tasmania, Journal of Geophysical Research-Atmospheres, 111(D18), -.

Vardag, S. N., S. Hammer, S. O’Doherty, T. G. Spain, B. Wastine, A. Jordan, and I. Levin (2014), Comparisons of continuous atmospheric CH4, CO2 and N2O measurements – results from a travelling instrument campaign at Mace Head, Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics, 14(16), 8403-8418.

White, E., M. Rigby, M. Lunt, T. L. Smallman, E. Comyn-Platt, A. Manning, A. Ganesan, S. O ‘ Doherty, A. Stavert, K. Stanley, M. Williams, P. Levy, M. Ramonet, G. Forster, A. Manning, and P. Palmer (2019), Quantifying the UK’s carbon dioxide flux: an atmospheric inverse modelling approach using a regional measurement network, Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics, 19(7), 4345-4365, doi:10.5194/acp-19-4345-2019.

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