Methane: a driver of current climate change

SRON’s role in monitoring methane

Despite its seemingly low concentration in the atmosphere of less than 0.0002%, methane (CH4) is the second most important anthropogenic greenhouse gas, due to its high global warming potential. Over a period of a hundred years, methane is about thirty times more powerful than CO2. The 2021 IPCC report indicates a 0.28oC contribution to the total global warming of 1.1oC since pre-industrial times. Together with other Dutch partners, SRON has developed key technology for the TROPOMI instrument on the Copernicus Sentinel-5 Precursor mission. SRON is responsible for the CH4 data product and uses this data to estimate methane emissions worldwide. We specifically target super-emitters, for example some landfills or fossil fuel facilities. These have the potential to be the low-hanging fruit in efforts to mitigate global warming. SRON also develops the targeted TANGO mission to observe localized methane emission sources, together with our Dutch partners: ISIS Space, TNO, and KNMI.

  • projects

    TROPOMI

    The Dutch Tropospheric Monitoring Instrument (TROPOMI) is flying onboard the Copernicus Sentinel-5p mission, launched in 2017. Every day it scans the entire globe for e.g. methane and carbon monoxide concentrations at city-scale level.

  • projects

    TANGO

    The Twin Anthropogenic Greenhouse Gas Observers (TANGO) comprises two cubesats: TANGO-Carbon and TANGO-Nitro. It is a candidate mission of ESA’s SCOUT program to be launched in 2026.

  • projects

    Impact Plan ML

    We use machine learning techniques to detect methane plumes in satellite data. The first project focused on detection of methane plumes in TROPOMI data.

  • projects

    IMEO MARS

    The United Nations International Methane Emissions Observatory (IMEO) is setting up a Methane Alert Response System (MARS) to support governments and businesses to reduce their methane emissions as promised under the Methane Pledge.

  • projects

    Targeting Waste Emissions Observed from Space

    Emissions from landfills are responsible for about 11% of global human-made methane emissions. We have recently demonstrated we can detect and quantify large landfill methane emissions from space by using a combination of satellites.

  • projects

    CCAC Methane Studies

    CCAC Methane Studies is a project to estimate methane emissions from oil & gas fields using TROPOMI (and other) satellite data.

Recent methane news

News

Methane Plume Map

Tropomi

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

Interactive TROPOMI carbon monoxide / methane map

Methane Publications

Meet our partners

We collaborate with climate researchers and modelers, and together contribute to the development of physical instruments and the promotion of scientific activities outside SRON.

Our other research themes

  • CO₂

    • Most important human-made greenhouse gas

    • Hard to monitor emissions because of long lifetime

  • 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
  • Aerosols and Clouds

    • Small particles in the atmosphere

    • Largest unknown factor in climate change

    • Strong impact on air quality

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