New satellite generated map pinpoints where the world’s methane emissions are coming from.
Methane emissions are a significant cause of global warming, but targetting exactly where they originate is a much more complex task. Fortunately, a new resource from GHGSat is putting methane emitters on the map.
GHGSat uses data from their two satellites to show the public where the world’s most concentrated methane emissions come from. The satellites are able to detect where methane is emitted on a remarkably detailed basis. It shows oil and gas wells, coal mines, power plants, farms, and factories and displays this data in a color-coded map.
Some areas, like the drilling-heavy Gulf Coast, are displayed as dark red, indicating high levels of methane emissions. Less severe areas range from yellow to green, while areas with minimal emissions show up purple or blue. The map covers the past six months and data is updated with new satellite images each week.
The largest benefit of the new map offers is accountability. It can help identify companies that aren’t meeting their methane reduction pledges. There's a saying in the business world: “what gets measured gets managed”. And this new technology should make a huge difference in policing promises and tracking infringements.
Moving forward, Montreal-based GHGSat plans to release additional data to quantify emissions more specifically. This new resource is a huge solution for holding countries accountable to their Paris Agreement commitments and companies accountable for their climate action plans. Soon, granular data will be able to pinpoint emissions from specific facilities, so it will be no secret which companies are releasing the most methane into our atmosphere.
In addition to man-made emissions, the map shows us where the world’s natural emissions occur as well. Mountainous areas like the Himalayas and the Sierra Nevada range in California are big methane trappers.
Stephane Germain, president of GHGSat says, “A very small number of sites are responsible for the vast majority of man-made emissions globally. If you can find those industrial emissions, you can have a significant impact.”
Carbon Emission Tracking: How a new effort to trace emissions in real time, led by Al Gore, could reshape climate talks [OGN July]