BANGALORE, India ( Associated Press) — Landfills are releasing far more methane into the atmosphere from decomposing waste than previously thought, a study indicates.
Scientists used satellite data from four of the world’s largest cities – New Delhi and Mumbai in India, Lahore and Buenos Aires in Pakistan, and found that emissions from landfills in 2018 and 2019 were 1.4 and 2.6 times higher than previous estimates.
The study, published Wednesday in the journal Science Advances, aims to help local governments implement specific actions to limit global warming, by alerting them to precise sites of great concern. Landfills are the third largest source of greenhouse gases in the world after oil and gas systems and agriculture.
Although methane accounts for about 11% of all greenhouse gas emissions and remains in the air for about 12 years, it traps 80 times more heat in the atmosphere than carbon dioxide. Scientists estimate that at least 25% of current global warming is caused by methane derived from human activity.
“This is the first time that high-resolution satellite images have been used to visualize the dumps and calculate their methane emissions,” said study lead author and atmospheric scientist Joannes Masakers at the Netherlands Institute for Space Research.
“We found that these dumps, which are relatively small compared to cities, account for a large portion of the total emissions from a given area,” he said.
Using satellite data to trace emissions is a relatively new field, but it is increasingly being used to monitor gases around the world. This means more independent organizations are monitoring greenhouse gases and identifying large emitters where local governments were previously the only source of information.
“This new work shows how important it is to better manage landfills, especially in countries like India where they often burn, emitting a huge range of harmful pollutants,” said Euan Nesbitt, earth scientist at Royal Holloway. , at the University of London. , which was not part of the study.
Nesbitt said the new satellite technology, combined with measurements on the ground, would make it easier for researchers to identify “what is polluting the world.”
China, India and Russia are the biggest polluters of methane on the planet, a recent analysis by the International Energy Agency revealed.
Sibi Arasu follows on Twitter: @sibi123
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