Methane is a potent greenhouse gas that is 25 times more effective at trapping heat in the atmosphere than carbon dioxide. It is also a major contributor to climate change, accounting for about 30% of global warming.
NASA’s Earth Surface Mineral Dust Source Investigation (EMIT) mission is a new satellite instrument that is helping to map methane plumes around the world. EMIT was launched in July 2022 and has been collecting data since August 2022. The instrument has already detected over 50,000 methane plumes, including some of the largest ever seen.
How EMIT Detects Methane Plumes
EMIT uses an imaging spectrometer to detect methane plumes. The instrument measures the amount of infrared light that is absorbed by methane in the atmosphere. Methane absorbs infrared light in a unique pattern, which is like a fingerprint. EMIT’s spectrometer can detect this fingerprint with high accuracy and precision.
What EMIT Has Found
EMIT has found methane plumes from a variety of sources, including oil and gas wells, landfills, and coal mines. The instrument has also found methane plumes in areas that have not been previously studied, such as southern Uzbekistan.
The Importance of Mapping Methane Plumes
Mapping methane plumes is important because it can help us to identify and quantify methane emissions. This information can then be used to develop strategies to reduce methane emissions.
Reducing Methane Emissions
Reducing methane emissions is one of the most important things we can do to mitigate climate change. Methane emissions can be reduced by a variety of methods, including:
Improving the efficiency of oil and gas operations
Reducing leaks from oil and gas infrastructure
Capturing methane from landfills and coal mines
Promoting the use of renewable energy sources
EMIT is a Valuable Tool for Reducing Methane Emissions
EMIT is a valuable tool for reducing methane emissions. The instrument is helping us to identify and quantify methane emissions, which is essential for developing strategies to reduce these emissions. EMIT is also helping us to track the effectiveness of methane mitigation efforts.
NASA’s EMIT mission is a major step forward in our efforts to understand and combat methane emissions. The instrument is providing us with valuable data that is helping us to identify and quantify methane emissions, develop strategies to reduce these emissions, and track the effectiveness of methane mitigation efforts.