Data Dispatch: Repeat Observations of Global Waste Methane Sources

Published on: Feb 12, 2024

Carbon Mapper Data Dispatches are regular communications highlighting insights and information from the Carbon Mapper Data Portal. We believe transparency is critical in advancing global efforts to mitigate climate change. That’s why Carbon Mapper is committed to delivering accessible data on methane and CO2 emissions, so that it can be used by policymakers, regulators, operators, and civil society to guide science-based action to reduce emissions. 

Highlighted Data

Location: El Hamam, Egypt
Facility Type: Solid waste facility
Observation Date Emissions (uncertainty) kg/h Plume ID
Feb 4, 2023 2.9k (+/- 0.2k) EMI20230204T084203P06030-B
Apr 3, 2023 1.8k (+/- 0.2k) EMI20230403T094539P07039-A
Apr 7, 2023 N/A (not yet quantified) EMI20230407T081044P06039-A
Jun 3, 2023 3.4k (+/- 0.1k) EMI20230603T093232P07038-A
June 22, 2023 4.0k (+/- 0.1k) EMI20230622T101751P07005-A
Aug 18, 2023 5.0k (+/- 0.1k) EMI20230818T114559P08011-A
Aug 22, 2023 7.1k (+/- 2.2k) EMI20230822T101103P07006-A
Aug 26, 2023 5.8k (+/- 2.0k) EMI20230826T083522P06002-A
Sep 29, 2023 4.0k (+/- 0.3k) EMI20230929T105224P07039-A


Location: Tehran, Iran
Facility Type: Solid waste facility
Observation Date Emissions (uncertainty) kg/h Plume ID
Aug 29, 2022 3.8k (+/- 1.7k) EMI20220829T060627P04004-A
Jan 30, 2023 925 (+/- 371) EMI20230130T093555P07043-A
Mar 25, 2023 2.4k (+/- 0.2k) EMI20230325T121118P08042-A
Apr 27, 2023 2.2k (+/- 0.1k) EMI20230427T064416P04004-A
Aug 5, 2023 3.7k (+/- 0.0k) EMI20230805T073838P05043-A
Aug 9, 2023 3.2k (+/- 1.6k) EMI20230809T060151P04018-A
Sep 24, 2023 7.7k (+/- 0.2k) EMI20230924T114413P08042-A
Oct 23, 2023 4.8k (+/- 0.6k) EMI20231023T075004P05003-A
Oct 27, 2023 1.8k (+/- 1.1k) EMI20231027T061434P04003-A


Location: Ürümqi, China
Facility Type: Solid waste facility
Observation Date Emissions (uncertainty) kg/h Plume ID
Aug 18, 2022 9.0k (+/- 0.6k) EMI20220818T070105P05022-A
Feb 17, 2023 15.3k (+/- 1.5k) EMI20230217T063221P04014-A
Feb 21, 2023 7.5k (+/- 3.4k) EMI20230221T045604P03014-A
Apr 20, 2023 4.1k (+/- 0.4k) EMI20230420T060148P04021-A
Apr 24, 2023 1.9k (+/- 0.9k) EMI20230424T042444P03013-A
Jun 9, 2023 3.2k (+/- 0.0k) EMI20230809T060151P04018-A
Jun 27, 2023 NA (not yet quantified) EMI20230627T030822P02006-A


What we see

Each of these methane plumes — emitted from different waste facilities across different geographic regions around the world — were observed by NASA JPL’s Earth Surface Mineral Dust Source Investigation (EMIT) instrument onboard the International Space Station. Carbon Mapper makes these plumes available on the Carbon Mapper data portal including key data on the location (identified by city, state, country, and latitude and longitude), emissions rate (in kilograms of methane per hour), and sector for these high emissions point sources. 

Here, we specifically highlight locations where plumes were detected on multiple dates during repeat observations of a single facility.  

Why it Matters  

Frequently monitoring high emissions point sources in the waste sector is important to better understand the causes of these emissions and how they change over time so that they can be effectively managed. 

Methane matters across all sectors, and emissions at landfills are particularly dynamic. Carbon Mapper airborne campaigns at U.S. landfills have shown that large emissions tend to be higher and longer-lasting at landfills than they are in oil and gas infrastructure. The amount of methane released can depend on topography, moisture, composition of the waste, and many other factors — all of which change over time. Emissions at any given facility may be relatively similar day-to-day or highly variable, which reflects the idea that landfills always emit methane but the magnitude and type of emission varies. Repeat observations help to better account for these variations, and can help operators to quickly assess where the emissions are coming from within a certain landfill.

Growing a tiered observation system 

Remote sensing provides an effective way to quickly find large emissions events and help to prioritize mitigation solutions and investments. Complementary observing technologies like satellites, ground-based sensors, and aircrafts (often called a ‘tiered observing system’) can gather emissions data more frequently and at complementary levels of granularity to enable global detection, identification, and monitoring of methane emissions at the facility level.

Carbon Mapper looks forward to contributing to growing global observations of high emission methane and CO2 point sources with the launch of the Carbon Mapper Coalition satellites being developed in partnership with NASA JPL and Planet Labs PBC, alongside other partners.

Learn More

Visit the portal to view emissions data from EMIT as well as our airborne surveys, browsable by observational source and sector.  

For more information about methane from the waste sector, the role that remote sensing plays in identifying point sources, and mitigation opportunities, see Key Strategies for Mitigating Methane Emissions from Municipal Solid Waste, a report co-authored by RMI and Carbon Mapper. 

You can also check out this recording of a January 2024 testimony by Carbon Mapper Research Scientist and Waste Sector Lead Dr. Tia Scarpelli. She testified before the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works on the topic of avoiding, detecting, and capturing methane emissions from landfills.