A satellite named Vanguard has been launched from Vandenberg Space Force Base in California by GHGSat. This satellite is part of the efforts to use space-age technology in holding polluting industries accountable for their contributions to climate change. Vanguard joins a network of satellites that are already detecting plumes of methane, a potent greenhouse gas that is challenging to identify due to its leaks from various small sources including pipelines, drill sites, and farms.
While carbon dioxide is responsible for nearly 80% of greenhouse gas emissions in the United States from human activities, it typically enters the atmosphere from large industrial sources like power plants. However, the current satellites monitoring carbon dioxide in the atmosphere do not specifically focus on facility-level emissions, as mentioned by GHGSat.
The data collected by Vanguard will play a crucial role in substantiating conventional practices of monitoring and measuring carbon dioxide emissions. Stephane Germain, the CEO of Montreal-based GHGSat, explains that the satellite’s direct measurements of entire facilities will act as validation, complementing the existing mix of direct measurements and estimates.
The advancements in satellite technology have already revealed that methane emissions are significantly higher than previously estimated. Germain also suspects that the same could be true for carbon dioxide emissions. The information obtained through Vanguard’s data collection will contribute to more accurate government emissions inventories, improved scientific modeling, and enhanced quality of corporate greenhouse gas reporting for investors, according to GHGSat.
With the availability of GHGSat’s data, industrial emitters who aim to reduce their emissions can purchase it, along with governments and scientists interested in studying greenhouse gas trends. Vanguard strengthens the satellite network’s capabilities in monitoring and addressing climate change by providing valuable data on greenhouse gas emissions.