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Atmospheric Measurement Techniques An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Short summary
Satellites can detect methane emissions by measuring sunlight reflected from the Earth's surface and atmosphere. Here we show that the European Space Agency's Sentinel-2 twin satellites can be used to monitor anomalously large methane point sources around the world, with global coverage every 2-5 days and 20-m spatial resolution. We demonstrate this previously unreported capability through high-frequency Sentinel-2 monitoring of two strong methane point sources in Algeria and Turkmenistan.
Preprints
https://doi.org/10.5194/amt-2020-477
https://doi.org/10.5194/amt-2020-477

  09 Dec 2020

09 Dec 2020

Review status: this preprint is currently under review for the journal AMT.

High-frequency monitoring of anomalous methane point sources with multispectral Sentinel-2 satellite observations

Daniel J. Varon1,2, Dylan Jervis2, Jason McKeever2, Ian Spence2, David Gains2, and Daniel J. Jacob1 Daniel J. Varon et al.
  • 1School of Engineering and Applied Science, Harvard University, Cambridge, 02138, United States
  • 2GHGSat, Inc., Montréal, H2W 1Y5, Canada

Abstract. We demonstrate the capability of the Sentinel-2 MultiSpectral satellite Instrument (MSI) to detect and quantify large methane point sources with fine pixel resolution (20 m) and rapid revisit rates (2–5 days). We present three methane column retrieval methods that use shortwave infrared (SWIR) measurements from MSI spectral bands 11 (~1560–1660 nm) and 12 (~2090–2290 nm) to detect atmospheric methane plumes. The most successful is the multi-band/multi-pass (MBMP) method, which uses a combination of the two bands and a non-plume control observation to retrieve methane columns. The MBMP method can quantify point sources down to about 3 t h−1 with precision of ~30 %–90 % (1σ) over favourable (quasi-homogeneous) surfaces. We applied our methods to perform high-frequency monitoring of strong methane point source plumes from a well-pad device in the Hassi Messaoud oil field of Algeria (October 2019 to August 2020, observed every 2.5 days) and from a compressor station in the Korpezhe oil/gas field of Turkmenistan (August 2015 to November 2020, observed every 5 days). The Algerian source was detected in 93 % of cloud-free scenes, with source rates ranging from 2.6 to 51.9 t h−1 (averaging 9.3 t h−1) until it was shut down by a flare lit in August 2020. The Turkmen source was detected in 40 % of cloud-free scenes, with variable intermittency and a 9-month shutdown period in March-December 2019 before it resumed; source rates ranged from 3.5 to 92.9 t h−1 (averaging 20.5 t h−1). Our source rate retrievals for the Korpezhe point source are in close agreement with GHGSat-D satellite observations for February 2018 to January 2019, but provide much higher observation density. Our methods can be readily applied to other satellite instruments with coarse SWIR spectral bands, such as Landsat-7 and Landsat-8. High-frequency satellite-based detection of anomalous methane point sources as demonstrated here could enable prompt corrective action to help reduce global methane emissions.

Daniel J. Varon et al.

 
Status: open (until 19 Feb 2021)
Status: open (until 19 Feb 2021)
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Daniel J. Varon et al.

Daniel J. Varon et al.

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Short summary
Satellites can detect methane emissions by measuring sunlight reflected from the Earth's surface and atmosphere. Here we show that the European Space Agency's Sentinel-2 twin satellites can be used to monitor anomalously large methane point sources around the world, with global coverage every 2-5 days and 20-m spatial resolution. We demonstrate this previously unreported capability through high-frequency Sentinel-2 monitoring of two strong methane point sources in Algeria and Turkmenistan.
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