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Carbon Mapper Launches Chile Airborne Surveys to Pinpoint Sources of Methane

Published on: Jan 24, 2023


Media Contact: Kelly Vaughn, Carbon Mapper
(970) 401-0001

Effort aims to expand understanding of emissions activity in high-impact sectors and regions, directly supporting the Global Methane Pledge and setting a model for the region.

January 24, 2023—Pasadena, CA—Carbon Mapper, a U.S. based nonprofit, has launched an airborne survey in Chile to detect point sources that potentially emit disproportionately high volumes of methane and therefore offer important mitigation opportunities. 

Chile is a signatory to the Global Methane Pledge, a commitment by countries to work together to reduce methane emissions 30 percent by 2030. Further, at COP27, Chile announced its intent to accelerate methane reductions and announced updates to its national determined contribution. 

In direct collaboration with partners including Chilean ministries and the Global Methane Hub, Carbon Mapper’s goal is to deliver new insights on methane emitted from key sectors and regions in the country. These observations will shine a light on which facilities and processes merit prioritization for methane mitigation efforts all while contributing to a broader understanding of Chile’s methane budget. 

“Large gaps still exist in data-driven decision making to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. A big part of Carbon Mapper’s mission is to close these gaps quickly,” said Riley Duren, Carbon Mapper CEO. “By delivering data at a facility scale that is precise, timely, and transparent, we hope to empower our partners in Chile to advance their goals to address methane.”

This survey kicks off a broader initiative to conduct airborne methane surveys in the Latin American region over the coming months.

“Chile will be the first country in Latin America to carry out such comprehensive aircraft measurements of methane emissions. Doing so will support increased ambition to mitigate these climate-altering emissions,” said Marcelo Mena, CEO of Global Methane Hub. “The data from the survey will help us take action directly in sectors like waste management and energy infrastructure to reduce emissions and support community health and equity in Chile and set a model for the greater region.”

There is ample evidence that making invisible emissions visible can drive concrete mitigation efforts. In Latin America and elsewhere, there is a critical need and opportunity to start by gathering methane data using remote sensing technologies (which are particularly efficient at surveying methane emissions across widely distributed infrastructure across large geographic areas like Chile) to diagnose high-emissions sources — and their root-causes — at the level of individual facilities and pieces of equipment. 

Carbon Mapper is using NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory’s Next Generation Airborne Visible Infrared Imaging Spectrometer (AVIRIS-NG) onboard a contracted aircraft to conduct the survey. This state-of-the-art instrument can detect methane emissions with a high degree of sensitivity, and has been used by Carbon Mapper in observations across key regions in the U.S. and Canada to assess methane and gather actionable data on super-emitting point sources. 

Through this initial airborne survey, the team will provide insight into high-emission methane events in key sectors (which could include managed landfills, wastewater treatment plants, energy production and processing, and gas distribution systems). This collaboration is specifically intended to begin to help national governments, sub-national agencies, companies, and other decision makers to:

  • Pinpoint emissions from facilities and/or specific pieces of equipment, helping decisionmakers prioritize near-term mitigation opportunities;
  • Contribute quantitative emission data to improve emission factors for greenhouse gas inventories;
  • Build partnerships to leverage remote-sensing technologies and improve emissions identification, quantification, and ultimately reduction. 

“Chile’s National Inventory of Greenhouse Gases, prepared by the Ministry of the Environment with the Ministries of Energy and Agriculture, has shown us that the country’s methane emissions mostly come from solid and liquid waste, livestock, and gas distribution — providing us with very useful data for better decision-making related to the recovery of organic waste and sewage treatment, among other topics,” said Maisa Rojas, the Environment Minister of Chile. “Now, thanks to the remote sensing technology leveraged in this survey, we will have the opportunity to corroborate and review the information available to reinforce and improve our emissions reduction policies and actions using direct information. Data collected will advance Chile’s carbon neutrality goal we established in our Climate Change Framework Law.”

The remote sensing survey is underway and will continue into February 2023. Carbon Mapper staff will gather and process resulting data, delivering insights and coordinating with collaborating organizations in the coming months. 

For more information, please contact Carbon Mapper. 

 About Carbon Mapper

Carbon Mapper is a nonprofit organization focused on facilitating timely action to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions. Its mission is to fill gaps in the emerging global ecosystem of methane and CO2 monitoring systems by delivering data at facility scale that is precise, timely and accessible to empower science-based decision making and action. The organization is leading the development of the Carbon Mapper constellation of satellites supported by a public-private partnership composed of Planet Labs PBC, NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (managed by Caltech in Pasadena, California, for NASA), the California Air Resources Board, the University of Arizona, Arizona State University and RMI, with funding from High Tide Foundation, Bloomberg Philanthropies, Grantham Foundation and other philanthropic donors. Learn more at CarbonMapper.org and follow us on Twitter @carbonmapper.