I wish Signtific were still around, so I could say about this there, but… The California Report has a piece today (here’s the audio) about the state’s deployment of a network of greenhouse gas monitoring instruments that will provide high-resolution maps of GHG sources.

Similar equipment has been in place for years as part of a continental network established by the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). But officials at the California Air Resources Board (CARB) say this new system will be the first of its kind.

“The unique thing about this is that we’re actually looking at the local emissions, rather than the global average, says Jorn Herner, who heads the Greenhouse Gas Technology & Field Testing Section of CARB’s research arm. “Nobody has done that before.”

As the New York Times explains, while this is mainly a science project at the present, the virtually same technologies and networks would be useful in “the kind of system that may be needed in many places as countries develop plans to limit their emissions of greenhouse gases.” Right now, such markets rely largely on either proxy data (i.e., measurements of things that indirectly indicate a rise or fall in GHG emissions) or self-reported data, which depend entirely on the accuracy and honesty of the reporter.

Indeed, Picarro, the Silicon Valley company making the instruments that CARB is putting in the field, says that a national GHG sensing network with 10 km resolution would cost about $300 million– not a huge amount of money given the potential size of the cap and trade market, and the potential for fraud in the absence of a robust data-gathering system. (Picarro itself is an interesting example of a Silicon Valley company that’s reinventing itself as cleantech: according to Green Beat, “a spinout from a Stanford University lab, Picarro initially developed lasers for the telecom industry,” but recently “has redefined itself to ride the climate change momentum.”)

[To the tune of They Might Be Giants, “Meet The Elements,” from the album Here Comes Science (a 2-star song, imo).]