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Quantifying methane emissions from the global scale down to point sources using satellite observations of atmospheric methane

Jacob, Daniel J. and Varon, Daniel J. and Cusworth, Daniel H. and Dennison, Philip E. and Frankenberg, Christian and Gautam, Ritesh and Guanter, Luis and Kelley, John and McKeever, Jason and Ott, Lesley E. and Poulter, Benjamin and Qu, Zhen and Thorpe, Andrew K. and Worden, John R. and Duren, Riley M. (2022) Quantifying methane emissions from the global scale down to point sources using satellite observations of atmospheric methane. Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics, 22 (14). pp. 9617-9646. ISSN 1680-7324. doi:10.5194/acp-22-9617-2022.

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We review the capability of current and scheduled satellite observations of atmospheric methane in the shortwave infrared (SWIR) to quantify methane emissions from the global scale down to point sources. We cover retrieval methods, precision and accuracy requirements, inverse and mass balance methods for inferring emissions, source detection thresholds, and observing system completeness. We classify satellite instruments as area flux mappers and point source imagers, with complementary attributes. Area flux mappers are high-precision (<1 %) instruments with 0.1–10 km pixel size designed to quantify total methane emissions on regional to global scales. Point source imagers are fine-pixel (<60 m) instruments designed to quantify individual point sources by imaging of the plumes. Current area flux mappers include GOSAT (2009–present), which provides a high-quality record for interpretation of long-term methane trends, and TROPOMI (2018–present), which provides global continuous daily mapping to quantify emissions on regional scales. These instruments already provide a powerful resource to quantify national methane emissions in support of the Paris Agreement. Current point source imagers include the GHGSat constellation and several hyperspectral and multispectral land imaging sensors (PRISMA, Sentinel-2, Landsat-8/9, WorldView-3), with detection thresholds in the 100–10 000 kg h⁻¹ range that enable monitoring of large point sources. Future area flux mappers, including MethaneSAT, GOSAT-GW, Sentinel-5, GeoCarb, and CO2M, will increase the capability to quantify emissions at high resolution, and the MERLIN lidar will improve observation of the Arctic. The averaging times required by area flux mappers to quantify regional emissions depend on pixel size, retrieval precision, observation density, fraction of successful retrievals, and return times in a way that varies with the spatial resolution desired. A similar interplay applies to point source imagers between detection threshold, spatial coverage, and return time, defining an observing system completeness. Expanding constellations of point source imagers including GHGSat and Carbon Mapper over the coming years will greatly improve observing system completeness for point sources through dense spatial coverage and frequent return times.

Item Type:Article
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription ItemGOSAT methane data in Fig. 2
Jacob, Daniel J.0000-0002-6373-3100
Varon, Daniel J.0000-0002-3207-5731
Cusworth, Daniel H.0000-0003-0158-977X
Dennison, Philip E.0000-0002-0241-1917
Frankenberg, Christian0000-0002-0546-5857
Guanter, Luis0000-0002-8389-5764
Poulter, Benjamin0000-0002-9493-8600
Qu, Zhen0000-0002-3766-9838
Thorpe, Andrew K.0000-0001-7968-5433
Worden, John R.0000-0003-0257-9549
Duren, Riley M.0000-0003-4723-5280
Additional Information:© Author(s) 2022. This work is distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License. Received: 1 April 2022 – Discussion started: 11 April 2022. Revised: 18 June 2022 – Accepted: 22 June 2022 – Published: 29 July 2022. We thank Felipe J. Cardoso-Saldaña and Cynthia Randles of ExxonMobil Technology and Engineering Company, Yasjka Meijer and Ben Veihelmann of the ESA, Ilse Aben of SRON, and Robert Parker of U. Leicester for their valuable comments. We thank Halina Dodd of the Halo Agency, LLC, for producing Fig. 1. Riley M. Duren and Daniel H. Cusworth acknowledge additional support from Carbon Mapper's philanthropic donors. Portions of this research was carried out at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, under a contract with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (grant no. 80NM0018D0004). Philip E. Dennison acknowledges funding from NASA Carbon Monitoring System (grant no. 80NSSC20K0244). This research has been supported by the Collaboratory to Advance Methane Science (CAMS) and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, Earth Sciences Division (grant no. NNH20ZDA001N-CMS). Author contributions. DJJ wrote the manuscript with contributions from DJV, DHC, PED, CF, RG, LG, JK, JMK, LEO, BP, ZQ, AKT, JRW, and RMD. DJV, DHC, JK, and ZQ produced the figures. RMD and DHC wrote the initial draft of Sect. 6.2. JK led the CAMS project that produced this paper. Data availability. The GOSAT methane data in Fig. 2 are available at (last access: 22 July 2022). The SRON S5P-RemoTeC scientific TROPOMI methane data in Figs. 2 and 3 are available at (Lorente et al., 2021b). The Sentinel-2 data in Fig. 3 are available at (European Space Agency, 2021). The PRISMA and GHGSat data in Fig. 3 are available for non-commercial uses upon request to the corresponding author. The data in Figs. 7 and 8 are available at (Duren et al., 2019) for California in 2016–2017, (Cusworth et al., 2021b) for the Permian Basin in 2019, and (Cusworth et al., 2021d) for the AVIRIS-NG/GAO campaigns in 2020–2021. The contact author has declared that none of the authors has any competing interests. This paper was edited by Jason West and reviewed by two anonymous referees.
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Issue or Number:14
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20220811-235087000
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Official Citation:Jacob, D. J., Varon, D. J., Cusworth, D. H., Dennison, P. E., Frankenberg, C., Gautam, R., Guanter, L., Kelley, J., McKeever, J., Ott, L. E., Poulter, B., Qu, Z., Thorpe, A. K., Worden, J. R., and Duren, R. M.: Quantifying methane emissions from the global scale down to point sources using satellite observations of atmospheric methane, Atmos. Chem. Phys., 22, 9617–9646,, 2022.
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:116260
Deposited By: George Porter
Deposited On:12 Aug 2022 21:07
Last Modified:12 Aug 2022 21:07

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