Satellites unveil easily-fixable super-emissions in one of the world's largest methane hotspot regions

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Itziar Irakulis-Loitxate , Luis Guanter, Joannes D. Maasakkers, Daniel Zavala-Araiza , Ilse Aben 


Reduction of fossil fuel-related methane emissions has been identified as an essential means for climate change mitigation, but emission source identification remains elusive. We combine three complementary satellite data sets to survey single methane emission sources on the west coast of Turkmenistan, one of the largest methane hotspots in the world. We found 29 different super-emitters active in the 2017-2020 time period, 24 of them being inactive flares that are now venting gas. This suggests a causal relationship between the decrease in flaring and the increase in venting. At the regional level, 2020 shows a substantial increase in the number of methane plume detections concerning previous years. Our results reveal that emissions from the west coast of Turkmenistan could be drastically reduced by proper maintenance of infrastructure and operations, and that new satellite methods promise a revolution in the detection and monitoring of methane point emissions worldwide.



Environmental Sciences


Methane emissions, plume detection, plume quantification, temporal monitoring, high-resolution satellite data


Published: 2021-05-26 16:21

Last Updated: 2021-06-26 01:55

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CC BY Attribution 4.0 International

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