Preprints
https://doi.org/10.5194/amt-2021-238
https://doi.org/10.5194/amt-2021-238

  21 Sep 2021

21 Sep 2021

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

Mapping methane plumes at very high spatial resolution with the WorldView-3 satellite

Elena Sánchez-García1,, Javier Gorroño1, Itziar Irakulis-Loitxate1, Daniel J. Varon2, and Luis Guanter1 Elena Sánchez-García et al.
  • 1Research Institute of Water and Environmental Engineering (IIAMA), Universitat Politècnica de València, Valencia, Spain
  • 2School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, USA
  • These authors contributed equally to this work.

Abstract. The detection of methane emissions from industrial activities has been identified as an effective climate change mitigation strategy. These industrial emissions, such as from oil and gas (O&G) extraction and coal mining, typically occur as large plumes of highly concentrated gas. Different satellite missions have recently shown potential to map such methane plumes from space. In this work, we report on the great potential of the WorldView-3 (WV-3) satellite mission for methane mapping. This relies on its unique very high spatial resolution (up to 3.7 m) data in the shortwave infrared part of the spectrum, which is complemented by a good spectral sampling of the methane absorption feature at 2300 nm and a high signal to noise ratio. The proposed retrieval methodology is based on the calculation of methane concentration enhancements from pixel-wise estimates of methane transmittance at WV-3 SWIR band 7 (2235–2285 nm), which is positioned at a highly-sensitive methane absorption region. A sensitivity analysis based on end-to-end simulations has helped to understand retrieval errors and detection limits. The results have shown the good performance of WV-3 for methane mapping, especially over bright and homogeneous areas. The potential of WV-3 for methane mapping has been further tested with real data, which has led to the detection of 26 independent point emissions over different methane hotspot regions such as the O&G extraction fields in Algeria and Turkmenistan, and the Shanxi coal mining region in China. In particular, the detection of very small leaks (< 100 kg/h) from oil pipelines in Turkmenistan shows the game-changing potential of WV-3 to map industrial methane emissions from space.

Elena Sánchez-García et al.

Status: open (until 26 Oct 2021)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on amt-2021-238', Vladimir Savastiouk, 12 Oct 2021 reply

Elena Sánchez-García et al.

Elena Sánchez-García et al.

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Short summary
This study seeks to present the as-yet unknown potential use of WorldView-3 for the mapping of methane point source emissions. The proposed retrieval methodology is based on the idea that the spectral channels not affected by methane can be used to predict the methane-affected band through regression analysis. The results show the precise location of 26 independent point emissions over different methane hotspot regions wordwide which prove the game-changing potential that this mission entails.