One of the most vulnerable countries to climate change, Bangladesh has also been identified as a significant source of methane, a greenhouse gas that is 80 times more powerful than carbon dioxide in its first two decades in the atmosphere.
According to Kayrros SAS, one of the companies that specialise in analysing satellite observations to find leaks, the 12 highest methane emission rates found this year occurred over Bangladesh.
“It has the strongest sustained emissions we’ve seen to date where we can’t clearly identify the source,” said Stephane Germain. He is the president of GHGSat Inc that also picked up the plumes.
Bluefield Technologies Inc., which analysed European Space Agency data in May to find a massive methane plume in Florida, also found concentrations over Bangladesh.
“Our analysis shows that Bangladesh has some of the highest methane emissions in the world that can be detected by satellites,” said Yotam Ariel, the founder of the company.
Scientists are only just starting to identify the most significant sources of methane. Because of cloud cover, precipitation, and changing light intensity, observations from space may be seasonal. In higher latitudes, such as the Arctic, where Russia has extensive oil and gas operations, satellites can have trouble monitoring offshore emissions and releases. Existing data isn’t yet globally comprehensive due to these limitations.
More About Methane Concentrations In Bangladesh
However, the emissions over Bangladesh are causing concern. Because of its low elevation and dense population, it is especially vulnerable to severe weather and rising sea levels. The nation is the chair of the Environment Vulnerable Forum, which has 48 members representing 1.2 billion people who are most vulnerable to climate change.
“We’re aware of the problems. The bulk of the methane likely came from rice paddies. When farmers flood their fields, bacteria in the waterlogged soil can produce large quantities of the gas. The other source is the landfill gas. We’re working to take mitigation measures.” Bangladesh’s Environment and Climate Change Minister Shahab Uddin said in an interview.
“The methane concentrations we see over Bangladesh are a signal and deserve more study. It will require more work to make reliable quantitative estimates of emissions and determine sources,” said Steven Hamburg, chief scientist at the EDF. EDF plans to launch its own satellite to track methane emissions next year.
“The ability to attribute methane emissions at an asset level is here now. The challenge is to increase the frequency of the observations with more satellites.” Said GHGSat’s Germain.