SciencesNASA has discovered more than 50 super methane ejectors on Earth from space. This relates to oil and gas facilities and landfills in Iran, Turkmenistan, and the United States, among other countries. Scientists do not yet know the existence of specific emission clouds. “Some of the methane plumes discovered by EMIT are among the largest ever,” researcher Andrew Thorpe told Reuters news agency.
EMIT stands for Earth’s Surface Mineral Dust Source Investigation and is a measuring instrument that has been attached to the International Space Station since July. The instrument was launched into space to investigate the impact of dust in the atmosphere on climate change, but it turns out it has another quality. Emitting emissions can also accurately detect the presence of methane, a potent greenhouse gas, on Earth, NASA reports.
Since the installation of the Imaging Spectroradiometer on the International Space Station in July, scientists have been able to identify more than 50 ultra-high methane ejectors. These are typically locations or sectors in Central Asia, the Middle East, and the southwestern United States that deal with agriculture, waste disposal, or fossil fuels.
For example, in the atmosphere south of the Iranian capital, Tehran, a methane column was observed just under five kilometers in a large landfill. Methane is one of the substances released during waste processing. In Turkmenistan, a cluster of 12 methane plumes were observed near oil and gas infrastructure. According to NASA, some of these clouds are more than 30 kilometers long. An oil field in the US state of New Mexico has also emerged as a super-emitter source: south of Carlsbad, EMIT was able to detect a methane column from three kilometers away.
Reuters wrote that the massive methane plumes in Iran and the United States were new to scientists.
Methane is a powerful greenhouse gas that contributes to climate change. Unlike carbon dioxide – which stays in the atmosphere for centuries – methane only lasts for ten years. This means that reducing methane emissions has a more direct impact on global warming.
NASA researchers know this, too. “Reducing methane emissions is the key to reducing global warming,” said Bill Nelson of the US space agency. “This new development will not only help researchers better detect methane leaks, but will also provide insight into how to address them faster.” Researcher David Thompson reports extraordinary results. “It is a unique opportunity to identify sources of methane and reduce emissions from human activities,” he says.
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