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One-third of California methane traced to several super-emitters



  A third of California methane tracked to several super-emitters
Views from NASA's Methane Source, a tool that provides methane data for the state of California. The data are obtained from aerial remote sensing, surface monitoring networks and satellites and are presented on an interactive map along with the infrastructure information. Credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech

NASA scientists are helping California create a comprehensive, nationwide inventory of methane source sources ̵

1; highly concentrated single source methane releases – using a dedicated air sensor. New data published this week in the journal Nature can be used to direct actions to reduce emissions of this powerful greenhouse gas.


Like carbon dioxide, methane captures heat into the atmosphere, but it does it more efficiently and in a shorter amount of time. Scientists estimate that most methane emissions in California are determined by industrial facilities such as oil and gas fields, large dairies and landfills. To help reduce the impact of methane on the climate, the state has made reducing human-caused emissions a priority. But in order to reduce these hard-to-detect emissions, they need to be measured and sources identified.

NASA, in partnership with the California Air Resources Board (CARB) and the California Energy Commission, aims to do just that. For a period of two years, a research team at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, has been flying an aircraft equipped with the Next Generation Airborne Infrared Spectrometer (AVIRIS-NG) over nearly 300,000 facilities and infrastructure components in these sectors. , The tool can detect many details of methane. Each pixel covers an area of ​​about 10 feet (3 meters) across, allowing scientists to see even small spots that often go undetected.

The team identifies more than 550 individual point sources emitting jets of highly concentrated methane. Ten percent of these sources, considered as emitters, contributed to the majority of open emissions. The team estimates that, globally, over-emitters are responsible for about one-third of California's total methane budget.

Emission data such as this can help facility operators identify and correct problems – and, in turn, bring California closer to its emissions targets. For example, out of the 270 landfills studied, only 30 were observed that emit large methane flows. However, these 30 are responsible for 40% of the total emissions from point sources discovered during the study. This type of data could help these facilities identify possible leaks or malfunctions in their gas capture systems.

"These findings illustrate the importance of point source monitoring in multiple sectors [of the economy] and in broad regions, as well as to improve methane understanding. budgets and helping reduce emissions, "says study lead scientist Riley Duren, who works for NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

Initial results were shared with California facility operators to inform them of the need to improve their methane leak detection processes and establish better control over methane emissions. The results will also be used to help state and local agencies and businesses prioritize the

Although the study provides a detailed map of methane emissions for areas observed in the country, researchers warn that this is the first attempt to estimate emissions from a single large population of methane from large

In addition, this study is designed to detect highly concentrated methane releases from one component or piece of industrial equipment, such as oil well. The study excludes non-point sources, such as small natural gas leaks from millions of homes, because although they may have a collective effect on methane levels in the atmosphere, their individual emissions are below the detection levels of this method.

The study is based on a decade of collaboration between NASA, CARB and the California Energy Commission in support of the state's ambitious climate change mitigation program, in particular on the study of the effects of air pollution by the oil and gas sectors.

"This new remote-sensing technology addresses the continuing need for detailed, high-quality methane data," said California Air Resources Board Chairman Mary D. Nichols. "This will also help the Energy Commission to come up with the best strategies for capturing this very powerful greenhouse gas."

The final report of the California Methane Survey will be available in the fall.

You can see the map and data from this survey here: methane.jpl.nasa.gov/


Natural gas leaks are an important source of greenhouse gas emissions in Los Angeles


More information:
Riley M. Duren et al. California Methane Super-Emitters, Nature (2019). DOI: 10.1038 / s41586-019-1720-3

Provided by
Jet Propulsion Laboratory
Reference :
One-third of California's methane tracked to several super-emitters (2019, November 7)
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