NASA Satellite Has Shown How Local CO2 Emissions Can Be Tracked From Space

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Vulkanvegas features plenty of sci-fi games that touch on very important topics related to our planet. Well, it is interesting that game developers take such educational issues and incorporate them into the games’ themes. Well, there is something more that needs to be added now!  According to the newest study, data from NASA’s space-based equipment for Earth observation helped identify and monitor a particular facility’s carbon dioxide emissions, allowing researchers to detect variations in that facility’s carbon dioxide production.

The study, which concentrated on Europe’s biggest coal-fired power plant and single emitter, showed that space-based measurements might be used to track CO2 emissions by source, according to NASA’s release. This is significant since, according to the announcement, major facilities like power stations and refineries account for roughly half of all worldwide CO2 emissions from fossil fuels.

SectorEmissions Share
Energy Use73.2%
Agriculture, Forestry & Land Use18.4%
Industrial processes5.2%
Waste3.2%

Greenhouse Emissions Must Decrease

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has emphasized the importance of significant emissions reductions, to keep global warming below 1.5° C. Since 1850, total emissions of 2,390 Gt CO2 have been linked to an increase in global temperature of around 1.07° C. Future emissions must be capped at 300 Gt CO2 to stay below the 1.5° ceiling. The debates at COP26 the previous year again emphasized the urgent requirement for nations to quicken carbon reductions in the short term and progress towards net zero emissions in the long run.

Over 150 countries have stated in their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) their desire to cut carbon emissions and prepare for the effects of climate change. The Paris Agreement mandates that countries track and report on their emissions reduction commitments.

Progress Needs to Be Improved by Complete Knowledge

These commitments and action plans face an immediate measuring issue because many countries need more capacity to track carbon emissions directly. They frequently rely on emission parameters from engineering studies and apply them to survey-based activity metrics for industrial, energy production, and transportation. Because many factors have been calibrated using databases and models created for high-income nations, standard engineering estimates are especially dubious for developing countries. The measurement difficulty is crucial for mitigation strategies, including carbon credit and offset markets, green bonds, and other financial instruments that depend on reliable monitoring, reporting, and verification (MRV) systems.

Using Satellite Technology to Monitor Carbon Commitments

Researchers from the World Bank have created a fresh database and web facility that puts carbon data at the user’s fingertips to track carbon commitments better and assist mitigation funds. The database uses satellite data from NASA’s OCO (Orbiting Carbon Observatory)-2 spacecraft, which offers highly accurate statistics on worldwide CO2 emissions. OCO-2 has a 16-day observation repeat time and a sun-synchronous near-polar orbit that crosses the equator in ascending mode at 1330 local time. The measurement difficulty is crucial for mitigation strategies, including carbon credit and offset markets, green bonds, and other financial instruments that depend on reliable monitoring, reporting, and verification (MRV) systems.

Storing and handling the data

An open web service that pre-filters OCO-2 data and releases spatial and temporal monthly mean CO2 concentration deviations for the whole terrestrial world is being set by the World Bank’s Development Economics Vice Presidency’s Development Data Hub.

The georeferenced measurements of XCO2, or the column-averaged, dry-air mole fraction of the gas, are updated weekly in the database and filtered for the impacts of concentration anomalies (i.e., local emissions). The filtering procedure adheres to Hakkarainen et al.’s methodology (2019). It employs the median as the representative daily XCO2 value since extreme observations do not affect it and consider both temporal and geographic factors. 

The system determines the daily median XCO2 for every 10-degree latitude range. It linearly interpolates the result to each OCO-2 observation at 1-degree resolution because the data are insufficient to estimate daily medians at resolutions higher than 10 degrees of latitude. The median value is subtracted from the observed XCO2 to calculate the concentration anomaly for each observation. The monthly mean values are computed and reported in a terrestrial grid with a 25 km resolution.

We can combine the gridded data to deliver fresh data-driven insights on CO2 emissions for areas of interest. This could support the development of a new generation of low-cost/free Monitoring, Reporting, and Verification (MRV) systems that could help investment instruments for mitigation.

Instant Access to CO2 Data

You may access the database, and many dashboards, including the World Bank’s Development Data Hub, Geospatial Platform, and Spatial Agent App, show how the statistics are visualized. Given the importance of context, you can use a wide range of analytical and visualization tools to combine CO2 data with other climatic and development data to enable various applications. These platforms will eventually include additional greenhouse gases, such as methane.

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