NASA reported that the methane leak from Southern California was registered from space. Satellite data from January revealed the leak from beneath a Porter Ranch mountain, showing the magnitude of the greenhouse gas emissions.
The Hyperion Spectrometer Findings
NASA satellite Earth Observing-1 passed three times over the Aliso Canyon and registered the methane leak. The spaceship had a Hyperion imaging spectrometer that measured shortwave infrared marks of CH4.
The satellite recorded the methane leak on three different occasions, and scientists managed to map its magnitude and morphology.
The orbital measurements were validated by the information captured by airborne instruments. Researchers have now the proof that space observations could contribute to further methane leak detections.
The percentage of methane released into the atmosphere through human activities has not been determined yet.
Scientists feel confident that future orbital instrument may be able to complete global surveys of massive CH4 emissions.
Methane was proved to be 25 times more dangerous than carbon dioxide when it comes to climate change.
The Aliso Canyon Methane Leak
The accident was discovered in October 2015, and in January 2016 the governor issued a state of emergency. By February 2016, the gas leak was reported to be under control.
The methane leak was responsible for health problems in thousands of residents, ranging from nosebleeds to nausea and headaches.
More than 6,400 families were relocated because of the dangers of the gas leak. However, public health officials declared that there will be no long-term effects.
The accident was estimated to have contributed to a quarter of the state’s methane emissions, which would make the event the worst environmental disaster since the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill.
The responsible company will have to pay the costs of capping the well, family relocation, as well as added penalties from government agencies, expenses to mitigate pollution and other potential damages. Sempra Energy has now more than 65 lawsuits filed on the issue.
The leak took place in one of the 60-years-old wells at the base of Santa Susana Mountains. The wells were first used to store oil, and after the oil deposit ran out the company continued to use them for methane storage.
There are 115 wells in the area, and people are reluctant in returning to their homes as there are no guarantees that the other wells are safe.
During the accident, more than 97,100 tons of methane and 7,300 tons of ethane were released in the atmosphere.
Image Source: YouTube