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 play a role which is not yet fully understood. SRON studies global warming by focusing on methane and aerosols.
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.
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
Small particles in the atmosphere
Largest unknown factor in climate change
Strong impact on air quality
Reactions with atmospheric gases contribute to global warming
Trace gas to calculate CO₂ emissions from forest fires
Most important human-made greenhouse gas
Hard to monitor emissions because of long lifetime
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.
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