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NasaNASA Spacecraft Pinpoints CO2 Emission Hot Spots on Earth

NASA Spacecraft Pinpoints CO2 Emission Hot Spots on Earth

Space missions provide detailed information on where emissions are coming from

A new study, using data from NASA’s Orbiting Carbon Observatory (OCO) 2 and 3 missions, has demonstrated how space-based measurements can monitor and identify carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from specific locations on Earth.

The study, which focused on one of Europe’s largest coal-fired power plants, the Belchatow Power Station in Poland, found that by analyzing emissions plumes from the plant over multiple satellite overpasses, researchers could identify fluctuations in CO2 levels that corresponded to fluctuations in the plant’s hourly electricity generation.

The study also found that shutdowns of the plant, both permanent and temporary, decreased the overall emissions that researchers could identify. The findings of the study show that observations made from space can be used to monitor CO2 emissions on a smaller scale and could be used in the future to track emissions from large installations such as refineries and power stations, which make up around 50% of CO2 emissions due to fossil fuels.

This illustration shows NASA’s OCO-2 satellite, launched in 2014. As it orbits Earth, the spacecraft maps natural and human-made carbon dioxide emissions on scales ranging from regions to continents. Light-analyzing spectrometers are tuned to detect the telltale signature of the gas.
Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech

The Belchatow Power Station, which has been operating since 1988, is the world’s largest power station powered by lignite and is responsible for significant CO2 emissions. The study’s lead researcher noted that while surface-based measurements can provide estimates of CO2 emissions, space-based measurements can offer a more detailed and accurate picture of where and when emissions occur.

The study’s use of NASA’s OCO-2 and OCO-3 missions highlights the importance of space exploration in the fight against climate change. These missions were explicitly designed to monitor CO2 emissions from specific locations and have provided valuable data that can be used to track and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

This illustration shows NASA’s OCO-3 mounted on the underside of the International Space Station. The instrument, launched in 2019, was not originally designed to detect carbon dioxide emissions from individual facilities but scientists said it will be used for more point-source studies in the future.
Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech

The OCO-2 satellite, launched in 2014, uses indirect measurements to map both natural and human-made CO2 emissions on a continental and regional scale. The OCO-3 instrument, flying on the International Space Station since 2019, can take multiple sweeping measurements while passing over an area, allowing for detailed mini-maps of specific regions.

The study’s findings demonstrate the potential for space-based measurements to play a crucial role in the monitoring and reduction of CO2 emissions. As technology advances, more detailed and accurate data will likely be available, allowing for more effective tracking and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

The lead researcher stated, “As a community, we are refining the tools and techniques to extract more information from the data than we had originally planned. We are discovering that we can understand more about anthropogenic emissions than we previously thought.”

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fatima khan
fatima khan
A brand new writer in the fields, Fatima has been taken under my electric spark's RGB- rich and ensures she doesn't engage in excessive snark on the website. It's unclear what command and Conquer are; however, she can talk for hours about the odd rhythm games, hardware, product reviews, and MMOs that were popular in the 2000s. Fatima has been creating various announcements, previews, and other content while here, but particularly enjoys writing regarding Products' latest news in the market she's currently addicted to. She is likely talking to an additional blogger with her current obsession right now.


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