Mapping methane hot-spots from space with novel retrieval data

Methane is the second-most important greenhouse gas and Australia has very high anthropogenic methane emissions per capita. The generally diffuse nature of sources of atmospheric methane makes mapping and quantifying emissions challenging. Variation in total-column methane can be seen from space, with the recently-launched TROPOMI sensor providing the highest resolution and accuracy.

Initial examination of this methane data identified a potential hot-spot in north west Queensland. A series of investigations (partly supported with MEI seed funding), including running an atmospheric flux-inversion system, led to the conclusion that this anomaly is most likely a retrieval artifact. Concerns about quality control precluded the ESA TROPOMI methane data product for use in routine monitoring of methane emissions.

Alternative processing by the University of Bremen of the TROPOMI methane data has become available. Initial investigations show that the putative hot-spot in north west Queensland does not appear in the Bremen methane data, but that it highlights other regions of interest (e.g., the New South Wales Hunter Valley); see Figure 1. The Bremen product is subject to ongoing validation against the state-of-the-art TCCON ground-based network, which provides excellent anchor points at Darwin and Wollongong but cannot validate regional hot-spots elsewhere.

The flux-inversion system has a steep learning curve, and is only suitable for MSc and PhD projects. Thus we propose an exploratory data analysis project for this 12-week internship, aiming to:

  1. identify any hot-spots;
  2. characterise their behaviour contingent on wind flow; and
  3. estimate emission rates using the above results.

UoM Supervisors

How to apply

Applications are closed.

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