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Potential of next-generation imaging spectrometers to detect and quantify...

Cusworth, D., D. Jacob, D. J. Varon, C. C. Miller, X. Liu, K. Chance, A. K. Thorpe, R. Duren, C. E. Miller, D. R. Thompson, C. Frankenberg, L. Guanter, and C. Randles (2019), Potential of next-generation imaging spectrometers to detect and quantify methane point sources from space, Atmos. Meas. Tech., 12, 5655-5668, doi:10.5194/amt-12-5655-2019.

We examine the potential for global detection of methane plumes from individual point sources with the new generation of spaceborne imaging spectrometers (EnMAP, PRISMA, EMIT, SBG, CHIME) scheduled for launch in 2019–2025. These instruments are designed to map the Earth’s surface at high spatial resolution (30 m × 30 m) and have a spectral resolution of 7–10 nm in the 2200– 2400 nm band that should also allow useful detection of atmospheric methane. We simulate scenes viewed by EnMAP (10 nm spectral resolution, 180 signal-to-noise ratio) using the EnMAP end-to-end simulation tool with superimposed methane plumes generated by large-eddy simulations. We retrieve atmospheric methane and surface reflectivity for these scenes using the IMAP-DOAS optimal estimation algorithm. We find an EnMAP precision of 3 %–7 % for atmospheric methane depending on surface type. This allows effective single-pass detection of methane point sources as small as 100 kg h−1 depending on surface brightness, surface homogeneity, and wind speed. Successful retrievals over very heterogeneous surfaces such as an urban mosaic require finer spectral resolution. We tested the EnMAP capability with actual plume observations over oil/gas fields in California from the Airborne Visible/Infrared Imaging Spectrometer – Next Generation (AVIRIS-NG) sensor (3 m × 3 m pixel resolution, 5 nm spectral resolution, SNR 200–400), by spectrally and spatially downsampling the AVIRIS-NG data to match EnMAP instrument specifications. Results confirm that EnMAP can successfully detect point sources of ∼ 100 kg h−1 over bright surfaces. Source rates inferred with a generic integrated mass enhancement (IME) algorithm were lower for EnMAP than for AVIRIS-NG. Better agreement may be achieved with a more customized IME algorithm. Our results suggest that imaging spectrometers in space could play an important role in the future for quantifying methane emissions from point sources worldwide.

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Carbon Cycle & Ecosystems Program (CCEP)