Friday, January 30, 2015

Oil Flares Seen from Space

SkyTruth has updated its map of Global Flaring. This map shows a heatmap of nightly, infrared satellite detections of natural gas flaring across the Earth.

For cost reasons oil producers frequently flare methane and other gases produced by oil wells rather than recover the gases. This flaring adds huge amounts of CO2 to the atmosphere and the gases themselves can often pollute the air.

The map animates through nightly detections of global flaring. The animation can be controlled using the timeline tool at the bottom of the map. The tool on the right side of the map can be used to choose whether to view individual detections, one day at a time, or a composite of all detections over multiple days. If you select more than one day the map shows all the flares detected on the date displayed and from all the preceding days.

The Global Flaring map requires a WebGL enabled browser.

The satellite measurements used in the Global Flaring map were made by the VIIRS sensor aboard NOAA’s Suomi NPP satellite. NOAA has also used data captured by VIIRS to create an interactive map of the Earth's vegetation.

The Green Vegetation map visualizes the world's vegetation. The darkest green areas on the map are the locations with the lushest vegetation. The map uses a pale color for the Earth's oceans. I'm guessing this is because if 75% of the planet was colored blue this would detract from the vegetation being highlighted on the map.

You can read more about the vegetation data and how the map was created on the NOAA website.
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