Press Releases

Picarro Chosen by California for First State-Level Greenhouse Gas Emissions Measurement Network

Sunnyvale, Calif.‚ February 3, 2010 - îThe California Air Resources Board (CARB) has purchased seven Picarro gas analyzers as part of the Board's efforts to quantify emissions of the greenhouse gases (GHGs) in California. The Picarro analyzers will be used by CARB to measure methane emissions as part of the fulfillment of the Board's mandate under California State Law AB 32. Signed by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2006, AB 32 requires that by 2020 the state of California reduce emissions of key GHGs by 25 percent. A molecule of methane traps roughly 20 times as much heat in the atmosphere as a molecule CO2. (The Picarro analyzers can also be used for precise CO2 measurement s but CARB will not utilize this capacity in its network.)

The purchase of Picarro gas analyzers is the first major step towards the construction of a network of GHG emission quantification and tracking stations around the state. California is the first state to conceive and start building a GHG emissions measurement network. Picarro is now the largest supplier of high accuracy methane measurement devices to CARB. "California will lead the way for GHG emissions measurement and verification," says Picarro CEO Michael Woelk. "This is a critical step towards the establishment of regional and national networks of instruments taking actual measurements of GHGs and a move away from the dangerous reliance on 'carbon inventory' and 'carbon accounting' approaches that are built on potentially inaccurate human estimates and software calculations."

The CARB GHG measurement network will help the state determine the effectiveness of programs designed to achieve methane reductions as required under AB 32. CARB's deployment of the Picarro devices will not only be the first state-level monitoring network but also one of the largest GHG monitoring networks, of any type, in the world today. This network will likely be the first of a number of state and regional GHG measurement networks set up in conjunction with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and other government and scientific organizations. "It has become clear that in order to create an effective climate policy we need measurement networks made up of extremely precise and reliable instruments," says Pieter Tans a senior scientist at NOAA's Earth System Research Laboratory in Boulder, Colo. "The growing size and value of greenhouse gas emissions trading markets make instrument-based measurement of emissions even more important."

A scientific journal article published by CARB scientists in January 2010 found that standard methane inventory calculations for Los Angeles County may underestimate measured atmospheric emissions in the region by 30 percent. A network of highly precise gas analyzers would help identify and better explain these sorts of discrepancies. A crucial criterion in CARB's choice of the Picarro gas analyzer is the device's capability to measure minute background levels of up to one part-per-billion (1 ppb). This precision allows CARB scientists to measure extremely small variations in ambient methane in real-time and on a continuous basis, without frequent recalibration of the device. The exact deployment location of CARB's Picarro analyzers has been proposed and the Board expects to have the first phase of its GHG emission measurement network in place within six months.

Picarro analyzers are manufactured at the company's Sunnyvale, Calif., headquarters and exported to countries worldwide. Backed by Picarro's proven cavity ring down spectroscopy (CRDS) technology, Picarro's analyzers provide the technological breakthrough that finally delivers on all aspects for measuring the impact of greenhouse gases on climate change, arguably the single biggest issue facing mankind today. Picarro GHG analyzers provide the simplicity, precision and measurement portability that has been lacking in previous technologies - instruments many more times expensive to run or unsuitable for high performance in situ measurements. Picarro's customers include NOAA, the World Meteorological Organization, the Chinese Meteorological Administration, and numerous other prominent scientific and regulatory organizations.