The first satellite images of the massive methane leaks from the recent ruptures in the Russian Nord Stream pipeline in the Baltic Sea have come out last Thursday.
Methane is one of the main components in natural gas and is considered to be the second most harmful greenhouse gas (GHG) after CO2.
🚨#BREAKING: An IMEO analysis of satellite images conducted in a partnership between @UNEP and scientists from Universitat Politècnica de València (@UPV) has detected and confirmed for the first time the large methane leak in the rupture of the Nord Stream natural gas pipeline.🧵 pic.twitter.com/10SAY3N78B— International Methane Emissions Observatory (@CH4Observatory) September 29, 2022
However, in the relative short-term (i.e. the first 100 years after being released into the air), the warming properties of methane are known to be several dozen times more potent than those of carbon dioxide.
At the time that the leaks were first reported and before any hard data was available, it was assumed that combined, the leaks were releasing a staggering 500 metric tons of methane per hour at the highest point.
While currently no final assessment of the situation has yet been announced, analysis conducted by researchers from Universitat Politècnica de València and United Nations’ International Methane Emissions Observatory suggests the radius of the methane leaks from the pipelines was 700 meters (~2297 feet) on September 26th, when they occurred.
Three days later, on September 29th, the visual radius had shrunk to 520 meters.
The researchers compare it to last year’s super-emitter event in the Gulf of Mexico that expelled some 40,000 tons of methane over the course of 17 days, saying the Nord Stream leakage is significantly larger.