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Atmospheric Measurement Techniques An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Discussion papers
https://doi.org/10.5194/amt-2019-202
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/amt-2019-202
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Submitted as: research article 29 May 2019

Submitted as: research article | 29 May 2019

Review status
This discussion paper is a preprint. A revision of the manuscript is under review for the journal Atmospheric Measurement Techniques (AMT).

Potential of next-generation imaging spectrometers to detect and quantify methane point sources from space

Daniel H. Cusworth1,3, Daniel J. Jacob1, Daniel J. Varon1, Christopher Chan Miller2, Xiong Liu2, Kelly Chance2, Andrew K. Thorpe3, Riley M. Duren3, Charles E. Miller3, David R. Thompson3, Christian Frankenberg3,4, Luis Guanter5, and Cynthia A. Randles6 Daniel H. Cusworth et al.
  • 1School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, USA
  • 2Atomic and Molecular Physics Division, Harvard Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, Cambridge, MA, USA
  • 3Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, CA, USA
  • 4Division of Geology and Planetary Sciences, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, CA, USA
  • 5Centro de Tecnologías Físicas, Universitat Politècnica de València, Camí de Vera s/n, 46022 València, Spain
  • 6ExxonMobil Research and Engineering Company, Annandale, NJ, USA

Abstract. We examine the potential for global detection of methane plumes from individual point sources with the new generation of spaceborne imaging spectrometers (EnMAP, PRISMA, EMIT, SBG) scheduled for launch in 2019–2025. These instruments are designed to map the Earth's surface with a sampling distance as fine as 30 × 30 m2 but they have spectral resolution of 7–10 nm in the 2200–2400 nm band that should also allow useful detection of atmospheric methane. We simulate scenes viewed by EnMAP (10 nm spectral resolution, 180 signal-to-noise ratio) using the EnMAP End-to-End Simulation Tool with superimposed methane plumes generated by large-eddy simulations. We retrieve atmospheric methane and surface reflectivity for these scenes using the IMAP-DOAS optimal estimation algorithm. We find an EnMAP precision of 4–13 % for atmospheric methane depending on surface type, allowing effective single-pass detection of 100+ kg h−1 methane point sources depending on surface brightness, surface homogeneity, and wind speed. Successful retrievals over very heterogeneous surfaces such as an urban mosaic require finer spectral resolution. We simulated the EnMAP capability with actual plume observations over oil/gas fields in California from the airborne AVIRIS-NG sensor (3 × 3 m2 pixel resolution, 5 nm spectral resolution, SNR 200–400). We spectrally and spatially downsampled AVIRIS-NG images to match EnMAP instrument specifications and found that we could successfully detect point sources of ~ 100 kg h−1 over bright surfaces. Estimated emission rates inferred with a generic Integrated Mass Enhancement (IME) method agreed within a factor of 2 between EnMAP and AVIRIS-NG. Better agreement may be achieved with a more customized IME method. Our results suggest that imaging spectrometers in space could play a transformative role in the future for quantifying methane emissions from point sources on a global scale.

Daniel H. Cusworth et al.
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Daniel H. Cusworth et al.
Daniel H. Cusworth et al.
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Short summary
We examine the potential for global detection of methane plumes from individual point sources with the new generation of spaceborne imaging spectrometers scheduled for launch in 2019–2025. We perform methane retrievals on simulated scenes with varying surfaces and atmospheric methane concentrations. Our results suggest that imaging spectrometers in space could play a transformative role in the future for quantifying methane emissions from point sources on a global scale.
We examine the potential for global detection of methane plumes from individual point sources...
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