Camera test at Följesjön, a lake in a research area west of Vänersborg (Skogaryd Research Station).
Camera test at Följesjön, a lake in a research area west of Vänersborg (Skogaryd Research Station).

There are several questions surrounding the powerful greenhouse gas methane. Its rapid but irregular increase in the atmosphere has puzzled researchers. And there is a high degree of uncertainty with regard to the sources and sinks of methane in the landscape.  A newly developed camera from Stockholm University and Linköping University can help to address these issues. The utility of the camera to both photograph and film methane has been demonstrated in a study that was recently published in Nature Climate Change.

The advanced hyperspectral infrared camera weighs 35 kilos and measures 50 x 45 x 25 centimeters. It is optimized to measure the same radiation that methane absorbs and which makes methane such a powerful greenhouse gas.  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.

The camera was developed by a team that combined knowledge from many different fields of expertise, including astronomy, biogeochemistry, engineering and environmental sciences. So far the camera has been used from the ground and now we’re working to make it airborn for more large-scale methane mapping.

From Stockholm University professors Göran Olofsson and Patrick Crill contributed to the project.