GHGSat Releases Satellite Images Of Methane Leaks Around The World

GHGSat Releases Satellite Images Of Methane Leaks Around The World - Carbon Herald
Credit: Vaclav Volrab | Shutterstock

Satellite images have been released, showing alarming rates of methane emissions leaks. The emissions monitoring firm GHGSat Inc. in collaboration with Bloomberg Green, will be publishing satellite images of methane releases around the world all during COP27. 

GHGSat is observing methane emissions spots as the potent greenhouse gas has more than 80 times the warming potential of carbon dioxide over the first 20 years after it is released into the atmosphere.

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A GHGSat satellite, for example, observed methane emissions near a coal mine in New Mexico and detected the methane is coming from a mine vent. The estimated release that was spewing has been calculated at a rate of 440.4 kilograms per hour. 

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Operational coal mines often vent methane to reduce the risk of explosion, however, closed or abandoned coal mines can leak methane for years if they aren’t properly sealed. The detected site is operated by Westmoreland Mining LLC, however, as Bloomberg Green reports, an official at Westmoreland didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

GHGSat also took images of a landfill in India that was also releasing a plume of methane. The estimated emissions rate was 1,328 kilograms per hour of methane. Piles of garbage generate the potent greenhouse gas when organic material like food scraps breaks down in the absence of oxygen. 

Landfills trigger some of the world’s strongest and most persistent methane emissions. Together with wastewater, they are responsible for about 20% of the methane emissions generated from human activity.

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Some more images taken on Friday identified six methane releases in northeast China near the Daqing oilfield. The calculated emissions rates ranged between 446 and 884 kilograms per hour and the cumulative rate was 4,477 kilograms an hour. 

Releases that last for an hour at that rate have the same short-term climate impact as the annual emissions from about 81 US cars.

Inaction on curbing methane emissions from sources like landfills, oilfields, abandoned coal mines, seriously undermines the fight against climate change. If food scraps and other organics are diverted from entering a landfill, that could limit future emissions. Some of that negative climate impact can be mitigated through aerating piles of trash and gas capture systems.

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