Friday, October 22, 2021

Spotting Methane Polluters from Space

In June the European Space Agency's Copernicus Sentinel-5Pdetected large amounts of methane being emitted in Russia. The ESA satellite orbits the Earth 14 times a day detecting different types of gas emissions around the world. On June 4th it spotted a methane leak in a Gazprom gas pipeline near Kazan in southwest Russia.

In recent years there has been a large increase in the amount of methane detected in the Earth's atmosphere. Methane is one of the major contributors to global heating so it is vital that we lower methane emissions. Methane is the chief component of natural gas. It is therefore thought that gas leaks, such as the one detected in Russia, may be one of the main causes of the rising levels of methane in the atmosphere. 

In Russia Allows Methane Leaks at Planet's Peril the Washington Post  has published an impressive animated globe which explains how ESA's Copernicus Sentinel-5P satellite detected methane emissions from the Gazprom pipeline. The Post's article, accompanying the globe visualization, explains how Russia and other countries have been misreporting the levels of their methane emissions and how satellites dedicated to locating greenhouse gases are making it much harder for countries to hide their true levels of polluting.

The Post article goes on show how methane emissions in Russia have risen sharply in recent years, while at the same time the Russian government has tried to claim a reduction in their annual output of methane. Based on an analysis of satellite detected emissions The Post believes that the true levels of Russia's methane emissions per year are at least twice as high as Russia's self-reported levels.

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