Mysterious Plumes of Methane Gas Appear Over Bangladesh: “It’s A Signal”

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Mysterious Plumes of Methane Gas Appear Over Bangladesh: 'It's A Signal'

Scientists are simply starting to pinpoint the largest sources of methane. (Representational)

One of many nations most susceptible to local weather change has additionally been revealed as a serious contributor of methane, a greenhouse fuel that is about 80 occasions stronger in its first 20 years within the environment than carbon dioxide. 

The 12 highest methane emission charges detected this 12 months by Kayrros SAS have occurred over Bangladesh, in line with the Paris-based firm, considered one of a number of focusing on analyzing satellite tv for pc observations to find leaks. “It has the strongest sustained emissions we have seen to this point the place we won’t clearly establish the supply,” mentioned Stephane Germain, president of GHGSat Inc, which additionally picked up the plumes.

Bluefield Applied sciences Inc., which analyzed European Area Company knowledge to establish a big methane plume in Florida in Could, additionally detected the concentrations over Bangladesh. “Our evaluation reveals that Bangladesh has a number of the highest methane emissions on this planet that may be detected by satellites,” mentioned Yotam Ariel, the corporate’s founder.

Scientists are simply starting to pinpoint the largest sources of methane. Observations from area might be seasonal resulting from cloud cowl, precipitation and ranging gentle depth. Satellites may have problem monitoring offshore emissions and releases in increased latitudes such because the Arctic, the place Russia has intensive oil and fuel operations. Due to these limitations present knowledge is not but globally complete.

However the emissions over Bangladesh are drawing consideration. Its low elevation and excessive inhabitants density make it significantly susceptible to excessive climate occasions and rising oceans. The nation chairs the Local weather Weak Discussion board, whose 48 members symbolize 1.2 billion individuals most threatened by local weather change. 

“We’re conscious of the issues,” Bangladesh’s  Surroundings and Local weather Change Minister Shahab Uddin mentioned in an interview. The majority of the methane seemingly got here from rice paddies, he mentioned. When farmers flood their fields, micro organism within the waterlogged soil can produce giant portions of the fuel. “The opposite supply is the landfill fuel,” Uddin mentioned, launched when trash breaks down.  “We’re working to take mitigation measures.”

Domesticated livestock, leaks from the oil and fuel business, landfills and coal mining are simply a number of the human actions that end in methane emissions, in line with the International Methane Initiative. Not less than 1 / 4 of right this moment’s world warming is brought on by man-made methane emissions, the Environmental Protection Fund estimates.

Methane concentrations in Bangladesh seemingly originate from a mix of sources together with paddy fields, landfills, leaky pure fuel pipelines and coal stockpiles, in line with Kayrros. The corporate makes use of knowledge from the ESA’s Sentinel-5P and Sentinel-2 satellites. It ran a dispersion simulation that takes into consideration atmospheric situations resembling wind, that may transfer methane plumes away from their supply.

Methane is a specific concern for these working to gradual the tempo of local weather change. The fuel is odorless and colorless, making leaks extraordinarily tough to detect. Halting unintended emissions from vitality infrastructure is a number of the lowest-hanging fruit as a result of firms stand to learn from cleansing up operations. They’re shedding product that might have been bought and danger reputational harm as traders resembling BlackRock Inc. demand increased requirements.

“The methane concentrations we see over Bangladesh are a sign and deserve extra examine,” mentioned Steven Hamburg, chief scientist on the EDF, which plans to launch its personal satellite tv for pc to trace methane emissions subsequent 12 months. “It can require extra work to make dependable quantitative estimates of emissions and decide sources.”

The flexibility to attribute leaks to particular person operators is getting nearer as extra satellites are launched that provide larger precision and extra frequent protection. GHGSat in February mentioned it tracked methane leaks from at the very least eight pure fuel pipelines and unlit flares in Central Turkmenistan that launched as a lot as 10,000 kilograms per hour.

EDF’s PermianMap challenge, which mixes knowledge from satellites and different ground-based observations to attribute and combination emissions by operator in one of many world’s most lively fossil gasoline basins, is an indication of the transparency to return. “The flexibility to attribute methane emissions at an asset degree is right here now,” mentioned GHGSat’s Germain. “The problem is to extend the frequency of the observations with extra satellites.”

(Apart from the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV employees and is printed from a syndicated feed.)

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