Reducing methane emissions is imperative in the fight against climate change. Methane is a potent greenhouse gas with around 80 times more warming capacity than carbon dioxide, meaning that a large reduction in emissions would result in a significant step towards climate goals and a liveable future. D-CAT has developed algorithms using existing remote sensing sources to detect methane emissions, map plumes and estimate emission volumes across the globe.
Anthropogenic methane emissions are produced from multiple sources including the agriculture industry, landfill sites and oil and gas facilities. Despite the increasing and largely publicised information on methane, we continue to see super emission events from industrial plants in particular. One such leak in Pennsylvania in November 2022 gained a lot of media attention due to the negative impact on the local community. These leaks and events are often preventable and could be mitigated with effective policy, monitoring and response.
Remote sensing is a key piece of the puzzle to monitor and pinpoint events such as these with the aim of reducing them. D-CAT is taking advantage of multiple satellite sources to detect large scale emissions and push the boundaries of resolution, frequency of reporting and accuracy of volume estimation.
Sentinel-5P TROPOMI provides methane emission data at 5.5 x 7 km resolution and can highlight large scale events. A signal from the Pennsylvania leak can be seen with Sentinel-5P, although the resolution is too low to identify an exact source.
Sentinel-2 provides higher resolution data with 10, 20 and 60m bands. Although it is not designed to detect methane, its wavebands enable the detection and derivation of methane emissions with appropriate spectral processing, and the addition of meteorological data enables plumes to be extracted.
With higher resolution data from commercial satellites, smaller plumes can be detected with greater spatial accuracy. This demonstrates the immense capability to combine different satellite sources and techniques to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions through monitoring, verification and reporting services.
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