David Bastviken and Magnus Galfalk have developed a technique to study methane with photography.

David Bastviken and Magnus Galfalk have developed a technique to study methane with photography. Photo: Linköping University.

Methane is one of several greenhouse gasses, which contributed to global warming. It’s also one of the most “effective” of these gases, contributing quite a bit to the overall changes in the global climate. Unfortunately, it’s also a somewhat puzzling gas which is difficult to measure, and which scientists have a lot of questions about. Questions about why we’re seeing such steep increases in methane, and what’s producing that gas.

Now though, a new tool might be able to help answer some of those questions. Researchers from Linköping University and Stockholm University have developed a new camera that is able to photograph and film methane in the atmosphere. That’s a pretty big deal, because this was an otherwise very difficult task before. The data it collects is very detailed, allowing for the measurement of even very small quantities of methane. So far, the camera has been tested at ground level, but there are plans to test it at altitude in order to photograph larger areas.

With this new technology, we might be able to figure out what activities produce the most methane, which will in turn allow nations to figure out how to regulate the creation of methane. Controlling methane emissions will be an important part of combating global warming over the next century. Although carbon dioxide tends to get most of the press, it is not the only greenhouse gas that we need to get under control.

The project was made possible by bringing together experts in a number of fields. Astronomy, biogeochemistry, engineering, and environmental sciences all came together to make the camera a possibility. Assembling such a team, and developing such useful technology, shows us that there is hope for the future still, as long as we approach the problem of global warming with as much energy, and from as many angles, as we can.