New NASA instrument detects methane ‘super-emitters’ from space

A new NASA mission has discovered dozens of methane ‘super-emitters’ from space, a move scientists hope will work to curb emissions of this potent greenhouse gas. These “super-emitters” are typically sites linked to fossil fuel industries (coal, oil or natural gas), waste treatment and agriculture.

It was launched in July and installed on the International Space Station (ISS). called EMIT (“Earth Surface Mineral Dust Source Study”), primarily aimed at observing how the movement of mineral dust affects climate. But the instrument was able to observe more than fifty “super-emitters” in central Asia, the Middle East and the southwestern United States. NASA announcedTuesday, October 25.

This ability “This will not only help scientists identify where methane leaks are coming from, but also help us understand how to deal with them and quickly.”said NASA President Bill Nelson. A few worms were detected “Biggest ever seen”Andrew Thorpe of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) said in a statement. “What we have discovered in such a short time is already beyond our imagination. »

Blooms more than 32 kilometers long

In Turkmenistan, the tool identified twelve pipelines from oil and gas infrastructure east of the port city of Hazar. Some of these worms stretch over 32 kilometers. Another plume, about 3.3 kilometers long, was discovered in one of the world’s largest oil fields in the US state of New Mexico. In Iran, south of Tehran, a plume was observed at least 4.8 kilometers from a waste treatment complex. Scientists estimate that these three sites emit 50,400, 18,300 and 8,500 kg of methane per hour respectively.

The EMIT task is “First of a new class of imaging spectrographs for Earth observation purposes”, NASA pointed out, although satellite detection methods for methane leaks have already developed greatly in recent years. Methane is responsible for about 30% of global warming. Although it stays in the atmosphere for much less time than CO₂, it has eighty times the warming power over a twenty-year period.

The world with AFP

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