The Earth’s Surface Mineral Source Research Institute (EMIT) has identified more than 50 methane hotspots around the world.
NASA scientists, with an instrument designed to study how much dust affects the climate, have identified more than 50 methane-emitting pockets around the world, a development that could combat powerful greenhouse gases.
NASA said on Tuesday that its Earth Surface Dust Mineral Source Investigation (EMIT) had detected more than 50 methane “super-emissions” in Central Asia, the Middle East and the southern United States since it was installed on the International Space Station in July.
The recently measured methane hotspots — some previously known and others newly discovered — include oil and gas facilities and large landfill sites. Methane is responsible for about 30 percent of the global rise in temperatures to date.
“Reining in methane emissions is key to limiting global warming,” NASA Administrator Bill Nelson said in a statement, adding that the tool would “spot” methane super-emissions to help such emissions be “closed at the source.”
Methane is much more effective than carbon dioxide at trapping heat in the Earth’s atmosphere. Our new @NASAClimate The EMIT mission, designed to measure atmospheric dust, has identified more than 50 methane “super-emitters” around the planet: https://t.co/d4OhBwIeOQ pic.twitter.com/9QLxDMN0nW
— NASA (@NASA) on October 25, 2022
Circling the Earth every 90 minutes from its towering space station some 400km (250 miles) high, EMIT can traverse vast tracts of the planet tens of kilometers, while also covering areas as small as a football field.
The instrument, called an imaging spectrometer, was tested primarily to identify the composition of mineral dust blown into the Earth’s atmosphere from deserts and other arid regions, but the expert proved that large emissions of methane were detected.
“something about” [methane] “Emit plumes have been detected in the largest ever – unlike anything observed from space,” said Andrew Thorpe, a Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) research technologist leading methane studies.
Recent super-emitting methane samples imaged by JPL on Tuesday included a cluster of 12 plumes from oil and gas infrastructure in Turkmenistan, some more than 32 km (20 miles) across.
Scientists estimate that Turkmenistan’s plumes are collectively spewing methane at 50,400kg (111,000 pounds) per hour, rivaling the 2015 peak from the Aliso Canyon gas field blowout near Los Angeles that ranks as one of the largest accidental methane releases in US history.
Two other large emitters were an oilfield in New Mexico and a waste processing complex in Iran, producing about 29,000kg (60,000 pounds) of methane per hour. The methane ridge south of the Iranian capital Tehran was at least 4.8km (3 miles) long.
JPL officials said neither site was previously known.
“As it continues to observe the planet, EMIT will observe places where no one has thought to look for greenhouse gases before, and find features that no one expects,” Robert Green, EMIT’s principal investigator at JPL, said in a release.
A product of the decomposition of organic matter and the main component of natural gas used in power plants, methane accounts for a fraction of all human-caused greenhouse gas emissions, but has about 80 times more heat-trapping capacity pound-for-pound than carbon dioxide. .
Compared to CO2, which stays in the atmosphere for centuries, methane only persists for about a decade, meaning that significant reductions in methane emissions would have a greater effect on planetary warming.
#NASA #instrument #detects #methane #superemission #space