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How a Dutch instrument in space caught methane emissions

How a Dutch instrument in space caught methane emissions

You may never realize it, but only since 1960 have satellites orbiting the Earth allow us to make more accurate weather forecasts. These satellites now monitor not only the weather, but also volcanic activity, air pollution, oil spills, floods, wildfires, and land use. This regularly produces surprising information.

Tropomic Dutch Pride

On October 13, 2017, as part of the Copernicus program, the Sentinel 5P satellite was launched, which carries the Tropomi (TROPOspheric Observation Instrument). This is of Dutch origin and has been specifically developed to measure air quality. Tropomi has four detectors that together can detect a portion of infrared, visible and ultraviolet light. For example, the instrument sees the most important components of the atmosphere, including ozone, nitrogen dioxide, sulfur dioxide, carbon monoxide, aerosols and the heavy greenhouse gas methane.

Capture of methane emitters

At the end of last year, Tropomei measurements showed that Australian coal mines emit far more methane than the country itself. This year, it turned out that methane emissions increased faster in 2021 than in any other year measured. Thus, the Dutch tool provides a distinctly more insight into the current state of the climate.

In the latest Zimmerman in Space podcast, you can hear Hens Zimmerman’s interview on Tropomi with Pepijn Veefkind, KNMI’s Chief R&D Satellite Observations Scientist.

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