Google join EDF to monitor methane emissions from space

The Environmental Defense Fund will soon be launching their  MethaneSAT satellite which will provide global, high-resolution coverage of methane emissions from oil and gas facilities around the world, as well as surface-level methane from other major sources of human-caused emissions.

This week Google have announced that they will be working with EDF on the project, lending their  AI and infrastructure mapping expertise.

Methane is responsible for around a third of the global warming being experienced today and, although comparatively short-lived, it has a global warming potential about 80 times greater than that of carbon dioxide

From 350 miles above the Earth, MethaneSAT will measure methane levels in major oil and gas fields around the world, monitoring both high-emitting methane sources and small sources spread over a wide area.

EDF have developed algorithms, powered by Google Cloud, to calculate the amount of methane emitted in specific places and track those emissions over time. Google Cloud will provide the computing capabilities required to process the data quickly to measure and post emissions data as quickly as possible.

In addition to detecting emissions, Google will create a global map of oil and gas infrastructure in order to understanding which components contribute most to emissions.

Google’s Vice President and General Manager, Geo Developer & Sustainability Yael Maguire explains: ‘Just like how we use AI to detect sidewalks, street signs and road names in satellite imagery to display helpful information in Google Maps, we’ll also use AI to identify oil and gas infrastructure, like oil storage containers, in our imagery. Then, we’ll combine it with EDF’s information about oil and gas infrastructure to locate where the emissions are coming from.

‘Once we have this complete infrastructure map, we can overlay the MethaneSAT data that shows where methane is coming from. When the two maps are lined up, we can see how emissions correspond to specific infrastructure and obtain a far better understanding of the types of sources that generally contribute most to methane leaks. This information is incredibly valuable to anticipate and mitigate emissions in oil and gas infrastructure that is generally most susceptible to leaks.’

MethaneSAT is expected to launch in March.

Main page photo: ©SpaceX




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