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Google uses satellites, algorithms and AI to help map and trace methane sources

Google uses satellites, algorithms and AI to help map and trace methane sources

Listen to this story:
  • MethaneSAT and AI pinpoint methane sources, guiding targeted emission reduction efforts.
  • Actionable insights empower stakeholders to tackle leaks in specific infrastructure, accelerating progress.
  • A global infrastructure map identifies leak-prone elements, enabling preventative measures.

The fight against climate change gains a powerful ally with the collaboration between Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) and Google. Methane, a potent greenhouse gas, contributes significantly to global warming. This partnership aims to tackle this challenge by combining EDF’s MethaneSAT satellite with Google’s AI and infrastructure mapping expertise.

MethaneSAT, launching in March, will map and track methane emissions with unparalleled precision. Orbiting Earth 15 times daily, it will offer a comprehensive view of emissions from key oil and gas regions. Google Cloud powers methane detection algorithms, while AI trained on satellite imagery will pinpoint oil and gas infrastructure worldwide. This data will empower EDF to quantify and trace emissions to their source.

Armed with this information, energy companies, researchers, and public authorities can take targeted action to reduce emissions from oil and gas infrastructure. MethaneSAT’s data, readily accessible through Google Earth Engine, will facilitate trend analysis and uncover correlations between human activities and environmental impact.

Beyond detection, the collaboration seeks to create a global map of oil and gas infrastructure. Similar to how Google Maps uses AI to interpret satellite imagery, the project will identify key components like storage tanks. Overlaying this map with MethaneSAT’s emission data will reveal which infrastructure elements contribute most to leaks, enabling proactive mitigation strategies.

Related Article: Groundbreaking Methane Monitoring Satellite by Ball Aerospace Prepped for Launch

This project represents a significant step forward in tackling climate change. By harnessing the power of satellites, algorithms, and AI, EDF and Google are providing actionable insights that can make a real difference in reducing methane emissions. This collaboration serves as an inspiring example of how technology can be leveraged for a cleaner and healthier planet.


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