SRON Earth.
Watchful eyes over our planet

Earth’s climate is changing because of manmade greenhouse gas emissions. Carbon dioxide and methane are the two main contributors to the enhanced greenhouse effect. Aerosols cool the Earth by scattering and through cloud formation, but it is uncertain by how much. Global warming can trigger tipping points in the Earth’s ecosystem; we study for example permafrost thaw, wildfires and climate-cloud relations


SRON participates in UN satellite-based global methane detection system


The Global Methane Hub, SRON and GHGSat Launch World-first Project to Map Super-Emitting Landfills Globally

SRON Earth

Research of the Earth’s atmosphere is vitally important for society. As watchful eyes over the earth, Earth observation satellites provide detailed information from which scientists deduce the global distribution of sources and sinks of greenhouse and air-polluting gases. With the Dutch/ESA TROPOMI instrument on board the Sentinel-5 Precursor mission we have one of the most advanced space instruments for atmospheric composition measurements at our disposal.

The Earth programme is headed by dr. Aaldert van Amerongen and consists of the Earth science group attached to the programme and instrument scientists assigned on a long-term basis to the programme.

This is what we study

Research Themes
  • Methane

    • Responsible for ¼ of human-made greenhouse effect

    • About 30 times more powerful than CO₂ (GWP-100)

    • Large emissions from fossil fuel industry, landfills, livestock

  • Aerosols and Clouds

    • Small particles in the atmosphere

    • Largest unknown factor in climate change

    • Strong impact on air quality

  • Carbon Monoxide

    • Reactions with atmospheric gases contribute to global warming

    • Trace gas to calculate CO₂ emissions from forest fires

    • One of the most important air pollutants
  • CO₂

    • Most important human-made greenhouse gas

    • Hard to monitor emissions because of long lifetime

Methane Plume Maps


TROPOMI aboard Sentinel-5p can be used to detect large methane emission plumes everywhere around the world. These plumes are automatically detected using the machine-learning setup described in Schuit et al. (2023, ACPD preprint). The weekly world maps show approximate source locations based on single TROPOMI plumes as well as initial source rate estimates based on an automated mass balance method.

View .csv data

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