Direct optical imaging and flux mapping of CH4 in landscapes

Wednesday, 17 December 2014
Magnus Gålfalk1, Göran Olofsson2, Patrick M Crill3 and David Bastviken1, (1)Linköping University, Linköping, Sweden, (2)Stockholm University, Department of Astronomy, Stockholm, Sweden, (3)Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden
Methane (CH4) is a very potent greenhouse gas with many and diverse natural and anthropogenic emission sources such as wetlands, animals, biogas production, waste and sewage management systems. It has increased 2.5-fold since 1750 and is expected to continue to rise, with possible large implications for future climates. Although many individual sources have unknown fluxes, and distributions could be both hotspots or continuous, measurements are mostly made on either a very small scale (chambers or flux towers) with point-like or uncertain footprints, or on the very large scale of satellites with km-sized footprints. There is thus a missing intermediate scale, a scale which would allow both pin-pointing of individual CH4 emission sources and mapping a large enough area to cover a whole landscape. A general such method would be beneficial for connecting scattered local measurements and integrated large scale estimates. Remote sensing is a tool that is often used to map surface materials and the atmosphere from space. This technique, optimized for ground-based or near-ground, sensitive CH4 detection using high spectral resolution, could be a future method for detecting and mapping CH4 sources and fluxes in the environment.

We present a new camera system with the ability to both detect and quantify CH4 at low levels in landscapes using remote sensing. Detection is made through thermal infrared (IR) imaging spectroscopy, using the heat radiation of objects in a scene to provide background light (e.g. tree leaves, rocks, grass or the sky). Using spectroscopic and radiative transfer modelling for each pixel (spectrum) in an image, we can calculate a CH4 distribution map from the measured spectra. The system uses imaging at high frequency (hundreds of Hz) to build the spectra – this also enables us to make simultaneous CH4 flux movies that can be used to calculate flows. Our method has broad applications and we will present examples from different environments.