WorldView-3 satellite maps methane plumes at very high spatial resolution

#Air pollution

Published on 23 June 2021

Substantial advances have been made in the last years towards the detection and quantification of methane emissions from space— very high spatial resolution data from the WorldView-3 satellite can fill an important observational gap in the remote sensing of methane point emissions.

Recent work by the Land and Atmosphere Remote Sensing (LARS) group at the Universitat Politècnica de València (UPV) has led to the latest breakthrough in this quickly developing field.

Using very high spatial resolution shortwave infrared (SWIR) images from the WorldView-3 satellite, they have mapped methane plumes from a number of locations around Earth at a spatial resolution up to 3.7 m. Positive plume detections were achieved in oil and gas extraction fields in Algeria and Turkmenistan, and in the Shanxi coal mining region in China.

An ESA Third Party Mission, WorldView-3 is an imaging and environment-monitoring satellite from DigitalGlobe of the United States, which launched on 13 August 2014 and remains operational.

It covers a ground swath of 13.1 km, supporting multiple swath imaging for mosaic image creation and stereo imaging. With its high agility, WorldView-3 delivers a revisit time of under one day for any given location on Earth, with a 3.7 m ground resolution for nadir SWIR images. The high spatial and temporal resolution of WorldView-3 SWIR observations are complemented with a high signal-to-noise ratio and a good spectral coverage of the strong methane absorption around 2300 nm, which make it a powerful mission for methane mapping.

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