The natural gas leak at Aliso Canyon earlier this year was already one of the worst environmental disasters in US history. Several months later, however, it has now gained the additional distinction of being the first industrial methane point-source visible from outer space.
That is according to a study published this week in Geophysical Research Letters, which used an infrared spectrometer on NASA’s Earth Observing-1 satellite to detect methane leaking near Aliso Canyon on three separate overpasses during December 2016 and January 2016. One of those detection events, shown above, nicely corresponds with methane plume data collected aboard a NASA research plane several days later:
On the one hand, this is yet another illustration of the tremendous magnitude of the leak, which coughed up roughly 97,000 metric tons of methane, equivalent to the average annual greenhouse emissions of more than half a million cars. But more broadly, it speaks to the growing role of satellite technology in monitoring the environmental footprint of the oil and gas industry.
Read More: Gizmodo