Using satellites to uncover large methane emissions from landfills

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Joannes Dyonisius Maasakkers, Daniel J. Varon , Aldís Elfarsdóttir, Jason McKeever, Dylan Jervis, Gourav Mahapatra, Sudhanshu Pandey, Alba Lorente, Tobias Borsdorff, Lodwijck R. Foorthuis, Berend J. Schuit, Paul Tol, Tim A. van Kempen, Richard van Hees, Ilse Aben 


As atmospheric methane concentrations increase at record pace, it is critical to identify individual emission sources with high potential for mitigation. Landfills are responsible for large methane emissions that can be readily abated but have been sparsely observed. Here we leverage the synergy between satellite instruments with different spatiotemporal coverage and resolution to detect and quantify emissions from individual landfill facilities. We use the global surveying Tropospheric Monitoring Instrument (TROPOMI) to identify large emission hot spots, and then zoom in with high-resolution target-mode observations from the GHGSat instrument suite to identify the responsible facilities and characterize their emissions. Using this ‘tip and cue’ approach, we detect and analyze strongly emitting landfills (3-29 t hr−1) in Buenos Aires (Argentina), Delhi (India), Lahore (Pakistan), and Mumbai (India). We find that city-level emissions are 1.6-2.8 times larger than reported in commonly used emission inventories and that the landfills contribute 5-47% of those emissions. Our work demonstrates how complementary satellites enable global detection, identification, and monitoring of methane super-emitters at the facility-level.



Atmospheric Sciences


methane, TROPOMI, GHGSat, Landfills, Methane emissions


Published: 2021-12-28 10:43

Last Updated: 2021-12-28 18:43


CC BY Attribution 4.0 International

Additional Metadata

Data Availability (Reason not available):
TROPOMI data are available at TROPOMI/tropomi/ch4/14_14_Lorente_et_al_2020_AMTD/. Example GHGSat-D/C1/C2 methane column data are available upon request. The WRF-Chem model code can be downloaded at GEOS-FP wind data can be downloaded at ERA5 wind data are available at The NCEP meteorology are available at The CAMS boundary conditions are available at cams-nrealtime/levtype=pl/. EDGAR v5.0 emissions are available at edgar., Scarpelli et al. (38) emissions can be retrieved from, and WetCHARTs emissions are available at Additional information related to this paper may be requested from the authors.

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