Scientists in Australia are set to use hi-tech measuring equipment to try and establish the impact of cow emissions on climate change. Employing reflectors and lasers, they’ll attempt to get a much more accurate picture than previous studies of this kind have managed.
Spearheaded by the University of Melbourne, this is an emissions-monitoring programme also involving four other universities and CSIRO – the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation.
With agricultural emissions responsible for approximately 10 per cent of all Australia’s greenhouse gas output, they’ll aim to deliver a better way of measuring and managing methane emissions in Northern Australia, whose cattle population is believed to account for no less than five per cent of the nation’s emissions total.
Cow Methane Emissions
According to the University of Melbourne’s Professor Deli Chen, who’s one of this cow methane emissions programme’s leaders, the scientists will use innovative techniques and observe these cows grazing in real-time.
One method will involve laser beams which, after being streamed across a several-hundred metre range, will hit a reflector, sending them back again. “The frequency of the laser is sensitive to the methane gases in the air”, Professor Chen explained, “[so)…we can measure the concentration of the methane gases across the paddock.”
Australian Cow Emissions
This Australian cow emissions study’s been named the Livestock Methane Research Cluster and, in further comments, Professor Chen referred to it as “a critical step if we are to help agriculture reduce its emissions because, if you can’t measure, you can’t mitigate.”
Australia’s presently aiming to have achieved an overall 80 per cent greenhouse gas emissions reduction by the middle of this century, compared to 2000 levels.
Methane, while less publically-visibly than CO2, is nonetheless a highly powerful greenhouse gas. A carbon/hydrogen compound with no odour and no colour, methane is highly effective at trapping solar energy and is twenty times better at doing this than carbon.