NASA identifies more than 50 methane ‘super-emitter’ regions around the world: Science Alert

NASA identifies more than 50 methane 'super-emitter' regions around the world: Science Alert
Written by admin

NASA scientists, using a tools Designed to study how dust affects the climate, it has identified more than 50 places around the world that emit major levels of methane, a development that could help combat the powerful greenhouse gas.

“Reining in methane emissions is key to limiting global warming,” said NASA Administrator Bill Nelson. Press release on Tuesday.

“This exciting new development will not only help researchers better identify where methane leaks are coming from, but also provide insight into how they can be quickly addressed.”

NASA says its search for the source of mineral dust on Earth’s surface (EMIT) designed to understand the impact of airborne dust particles on climate.

But EMIT, which was installed on the International Space Station in July and can focus on an area as small as a football field, has also shown the ability to detect the presence of methane.

Methane plume emitted near Tehran, Iran.
A 4.8 km long methane plume south of Tehran, Iran. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

So far, more than 50 “super-emitters” of methane gas have been identified in Central Asia, the Middle East and the southwestern United States, according to NASA. Most of them are associated with fossil-fuel, waste or agriculture sectors.

Kate Calvin, NASA’s Chief Scientist and Senior Climate Advisor, said EMIT’s “excess methane-detection capability provides an extraordinary opportunity to measure and monitor greenhouse gases that contribute to climate change

“Exceeded our expectations”

Methane is responsible for about 30 percent of global warming so far.

Although less abundant in the atmosphere than COtwo, it is about 28 times more potent as a greenhouse gas over a century-long time scale. Over a 20-year time frame, it is 80 times stronger.

Methane stays in the atmosphere for only a decade, compared to hundreds or thousands of years for COtwo.

That means a sharp reduction in emissions could cut a few tenths of a degree Celsius from projected global warming by mid-century, helping to keep the Paris Agreement’s goal of limiting the global average temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius, according to the United Nations Environment Programme. (UNEP).

“EMIT will potentially find hundreds of super-emitters – some of them previously seen through air-, space- or ground-based measurements, and others unknown,” NASA said.

Some of the methane plumes detected by EMIT are the largest ever seen, said Andrew Thorpe, a research technician at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory who leads the EMIT methane effort.

“What we’ve achieved in a short period of time has already exceeded our expectations,” Thorpe said said.

A methane plume about 2 miles (3.3 km) long has been detected southeast of Carlsbad, New Mexico in the Permian Basin, one of the world’s largest oil fields, NASA said.

It said 12 plumes were identified from oil and gas infrastructure in Turkmenistan east of the Caspian Sea port city of Hazar.

A methane plume at least 3 miles (4.8 kilometers) long has been detected from a large waste processing complex south of Tehran, NASA said.

© Agence France-Presse

About the author


Leave a Comment