satellite data finds landfills are methane 'super emitters'
A person picks through trash for reusable items as a fire rages at the Bhalswa landfill in New Delhi, April 27, 2022. Landfills are releasing far more planet-warming methane into the atmosphere from the decomposition of waste than previously thought, a study suggests. Smoke hung over New Delhi for days after the massive landfill caught fire as the country was sweltering in an extreme heat wave. Credit: AP Photo/Manish Swarup, File

Landfills are releasing large amounts of planet-warming methane gas into the atmosphere from the decomposition of waste and are a significant contributor to such emissions in urban areas, a study suggests.

Scientists used satellite data from Delhi and Mumbai in India, Lahore in Pakistan and Buenos Aires in Argentina and identified specific locations in each city that persistently emit high methane levels, all of which were landfills. The cities’ overall methane emissions from all sources were 1.4 to 2.6 times higher than previous estimates.

The study, published in Science Advances on Wednesday, is aimed at helping local governments carry out targeted efforts to limit global warming by pinpointing specific sites of major concern.

When organic waste like food, wood or paper decomposes, it emits methane into the air. Landfills are the third-largest source of methane emissions globally, after oil and gas systems and agriculture.

Although methane only accounts for about 11% of greenhouse gas emissions and lasts about a dozen years in the air, it traps 80 times more heat in the atmosphere than carbon dioxide does. Scientists estimate that at least 25% of today’s warming is driven by methane from human actions.

“This is the first time that high-resolution satellite images have been used to observe landfills and calculate their methane emissions,” said Joannes Maasakkers, lead author of the study and atmospheric scientist at the Netherlands Institute for Space Research.

“We found that these landfills, which are relatively small compared to city sizes, are responsible for a large fraction of total emissions from a given area,” he said.

Satellite data to detect emissions is still a relatively new field, but it’s being used more and more to observe gases across the world. It means more independent organizations are tracking greenhouse gases and identifying big emitters, whereas previously local government figures were the only source available.

“This new work shows just how important it is to manage landfills better, especially in countries like India where landfills are often on fire, emitting a wide range of damaging pollutants,” said Euan Nisbet, an Earth scientist at Royal Holloway, University of London, who wasn’t part of the study.

Earlier this year, smoke hung over New Delhi for days after a massive landfill caught fire as the country was sweltering in an extreme heat wave with temperatures surpassing 50 degrees Celsius (122 Fahrenheit). At least two other landfill fires have been reported in India this year.

Nisbet added that the newer satellite technology, combined with on-the-ground measurements, makes it easier for researchers to identify “who is polluting the world.”

China and India are the world’s biggest methane polluters, a recent analysis by the International Energy Agency found.

At last year’s United Nations climate conference, 104 countries signed a pledge to reduce methane emissions by 30% by 2030 compared with 2020 levels. Both India and China are not signatories.

The authors plan to carry out more research into landfill sites across the world in future studies.

“It is a quickly developing field and we expect more interesting data to come out soon,” said Maasakkers. More information: Joannes D. Maasakkers et al, Using satellites to uncover large methane emissions from landfills, Science Advances (2022). DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.abn9683 Journal information: Science Advances

© 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

Citation: Satellite data finds landfills are methane ‘super emitters’ (2022, August 13) retrieved 13 August 2022 from https://phys.org/news/2022-08-satellite-landfills-methane-super-emitters.html This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.

TECH NEWS RELATED

Gray whale numbers continue decline; NOAA fisheries will continue monitoring

A gray whale mother-calf pair migrating along the central California coast from the wintering grounds in Mexico to the summer feeding grounds in the Arctic. Credit: NOAA Fisheries Gray whales that migrate along the West Coast of North America continued to decline in number over the last 2 years, ...

View more: Gray whale numbers continue decline; NOAA fisheries will continue monitoring

Microsoft: Windows 11 22H2 causes file copy performance hit

Microsoft has confirmed a new known issue causing customers to experience a significant performance hit when copying large files over SMB after installing the Windows 11 22H2 update. “There is a performance reduction in 22H2 when copying larger files from a remote computer down to a Windows 11 computer ...

View more: Microsoft: Windows 11 22H2 causes file copy performance hit

Borderline Personality Disorder-Related Stigma Undermines Patient Care and Efforts to Reduce Suicide

Summary: Study reveals those with borderline personality disorder and their carers face stigma and discrimination by mental health service providers following suicide attempts and episodes of self-harm. Source: Flinders University People with a diagnosis of borderline personality disorder and their carers report experiencing discrimination and stigma when presenting to health ...

View more: Borderline Personality Disorder-Related Stigma Undermines Patient Care and Efforts to Reduce Suicide

Mapping Human Brain Development

Summary: Brain organoids are helping researchers map the molecular, genetics, and structural changes that occur during brain development. Source: ETH Zurich The human brain is probably the most complex organ in the entire living world and has long been an object of fascination for researchers. However, studying the brain, and ...

View more: Mapping Human Brain Development

Vegetarians More Likely to Be Depressed Than Meat-Eaters

Summary: A new study reveals vegetarians are two times more likely to suffer from depression than those who eat meat. While nutrition plays a role in depressive symptoms, researchers say social factors and upset over the treatment of animals contribute to symptoms of depression. Source: The Conversation Vegetarians have around ...

View more: Vegetarians More Likely to Be Depressed Than Meat-Eaters

MIT releases financials and endowment figures for 2022

The Institute’s pooled investments lost 5.3 percent last year; endowment stands at $24.6 billion.

View more: MIT releases financials and endowment figures for 2022

Card Blanch’s Unique Platform Simplifies Shopping For Consumers

(Photo : Card Blanch) Consumer spending in the U.S. is on the rise after months of economic uncertainty, reminding people about the often overwhelming number of finance and store loyalty cards they own – and that’s where one innovative app aims to revolutionize and simplify shopping for everyone. The ...

View more: Card Blanch’s Unique Platform Simplifies Shopping For Consumers

Psychedelic drugs: how to tell good research from bad

Research with psychedelic drugs has made a dramatic comeback amid a heady mix of softening societal attitudes, the lure of commercial opportunity, misgivings about the “war on drugs”, and the desire to develop new ways to treat mental health conditions. So you might have read in the media that ...

View more: Psychedelic drugs: how to tell good research from bad

What other storms can teach us about looming mental health impacts of Hurricane Ian

How to Store Your Vinyl Records and Maintain Their Quality

Twitter wants you to share tweets instead of screenshotting them

Only 2 Netflix movies are in the streamer’s US Top 10 today

Scientists design electrolyte for lithium metal anodes for use in lithium metal batteries

Sleep mode makes Internet of Energy more energy efficient

Finding the chiplet integration technology with the simplest scheme

Google's 2nd-gen wired Nest Doorbell delivers better image quality

Biden Signs Executive Order to Preserve US-EU Data Transfers

Apple Is Unlikely to Reinstate Touch ID, to Revamp Face Recognition Instead: Reports

The Parenting Tech Market is Flooded yet Chronically Underserved. Could this AI Cut Through the Noise?

Mariners vs. Blue Jays Livestream: How to Watch the Wild Card Series Without Cable

OTHER TECH NEWS

Top Car News Car News