Say cheese! New camera can measure methane

Friday, 04 December, 2015

Say cheese! New camera can measure methane

Swedish researchers have developed a camera that can photograph and film the methane in the air around us. The device is set to become an important part of the efforts to measure and monitor greenhouse gases, helping confirm the sources and sinks of methane in the landscape.

The researchers, from Linköping University and Stockholm University, developed a hyperspectral infrared camera that weighs 35 kg and measures 50 x 45 x 25 cm. It is optimised to measure the same radiation that methane absorbs and which makes methane such a powerful greenhouse gas.

“The camera is very sensitive, which means that the methane is both visible and measureable close to ground level, with much higher resolution than previously,” said study leader Magnus Gålfalk, from Linköping University. “Being able to measure on a small scale is crucial.”

The camera can be used to measure emissions from many environments, including sewage sludge deposits, combustion processes, animal husbandry and lakes. For each pixel in the image the camera records a high-resolution spectrum, which makes it possible to quantify the methane separately from the other gases.

“This gives us new possibilities for mapping and monitoring methane sources and sinks, and it will help us understand how methane emissions are regulated and how we can reduce emissions,” said principal investigator David Bastviken, also from Linköping University. “So far the camera has been used from the ground, and now we’re working to make it airborne for more large-scale methane mapping.”

The study, ‘Making methane visible’, has been published in the journal Nature Climate Change.

Image caption: A camera test at Foljesjon, a lake in a research area west of Vanersborg, Sweden. Image credit: Linköping University.


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