Contact Dr Michelle Cain

Areas of expertise

  • Agrifood Systems
  • Air
  • Environmental Policy
  • Monitoring and Environmental Informatics


Dr Cain's core expertise is in greenhouse gases, air pollution and climate science. Her current research focuses on the role of greenhouse gases other than carbon dioxide in limiting global warming, consistent with the Paris Agreement's temperature goal. In particular, how to estimate the temperature outcomes from reducing methane emissions. Agricultural emissions are dominated by methane and nitrous oxide, both potent greenhouse gases. However methane's lifetime in the atmosphere is around a decade, whereas nitrous oxide's is over a century, and so methods of comparison must account for this to be accurate over all timescales.

Before joining Cranfield in 2020, Dr Cain was a senior researcher at the University of Oxford, where she developed the Oxford Martin Programme on Climate Pollutants (, which aimed to make climate metrics used in climate policy more fit-for-purpose. She held two University of Oxford Knowledge Exchange Fellowships, on agricultural climate mitigation.

As a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Cambridge (2009-2017), Dr Cain worked on modelling the sources of pollution measured by the Cranfield-based FAAM research aircraft ( She took part in conducting large field campaigns to the Arctic to measure methane in the atmosphere, linking these measurements back to sources such as remote wetlands. Other field campaigns targeted UK air pollution, and fugitive methane from North Sea gas rigs.

Her PhD, from the University of Reading, combined airborne measurements with modelling of long range transport of pollutants in the atmosphere from North America to Europe, and also in the West African Monsoon.

Photo credit: David Fisher

Current activities

Dr Cain is a UKRI Future Leaders Fellow. Her recent and current research includes the UKRI-funded projects: Reframing non-CO2 mitigation approaches to limit global warming, OpenGHG, FixOurFood, and A practical tool and robust framework for evaluating greenhouse gas emissions from land-based activities.

Dr Cain is co-chair of the Royal Meteorological Society's Science Engagement Committee, and vice-chair of the Technical Advisory Group on Methane for the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (UN FAO).


Articles In Journals

Conference Papers