Satellite uses sun reflections to detect offshore methane leaks

Methane leaks from offshore oil rigs are normally hard to spot from space but a technique called “glint mode” now makes it possible


28 September 2022

Oil rig in the sea

Water makes it hard to detect methane leaks from space

Chris Graythen/Getty Images

A satellite monitoring technique that uses the reflection of the sun makes it possible to detect methane leaks from offshore oil rigs from space.

Methane is a potent greenhouse gas about 80 times more efficient than carbon dioxide at trapping heat. The amount of methane in the atmosphere has more than doubled since pre-industrial levels, largely from human sources like livestock, landfills and oil and gas production.

Along with airplanes and ground-based sensors, a growing constellation of satellites monitor methane plumes …

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