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Landfills are 'superemitters' of methane, satellite data finds

Experts call for increased public urgency on climate change

Bengaluru, India - Landfills release large amounts of methane into the atmosphere as wastes decompose, suggesting study suggests

Scientists used satellite data for four major cities in the world: Delhi and Mumbai, India; Lahore, Pakistan; and Buenos Aires, Argentina. We found that emissions were 1.4 to 2.6 times what they were before. Estimate.

Methane is released into the air when organic waste such as food, wood and paper decomposes. Landfills are the world's third largest source of methane emissions, after oil and gas systems and agriculture.

Methane accounts for only about 11% of greenhouse gas emissions and can last about 12 years in the air, but it traps 80 times more heat in the atmosphere than carbon dioxide. Scientists estimate that at least 25% of today's warming is caused by human-induced methane.

"This is the first time that high-resolution satellite imagery has been used to observe landfills and calculate methane emissions," said lead author of the study, Dutch Space Institute. atmospheric scientist Joannes Maasakkers said.

"We found that these landfills, which are relatively small compared to the size of the city, account for the majority of the total emissions from a given area," he said.

Climate Landfill Methane
Searching for reusable items as fire rages at Balswa Landfill, New Delhi, 27 April 2022 a person who picks up trash.  Manish Swarup / AP

Satellite data for detecting emissions is still a relatively new field, but observing gases around the world is being used more and more for This means that more and more independent organizations are tracking greenhouse gases and identifying large sources of emissions, but previously local government figures were the only source available.

"This new study shows how important it is to better manage landfills. Especially in countries like India, where landfills are often stricken by fire, they are exposed to a wide range of harmful hazards. It emits pollutants," said Euan Nisbet. Dr. Royal Holloway of the University of London was not involved in the study.

Earlier this year, the country was sweltering in an extreme heatwave, with temperatures exceeding 122 degrees Celsius, causing smoke to erupt in New Delhi for days after a large landfill was set on fire. I stopped. India has reported at least two landfill fires this year.

Nisbet added that combining new satellite technology with ground-based measurements will help researchers identify "who is polluting the world."

According to a recent analysis by the International Energy Agency, China and India are the world's largest sources of methane pollution.

At last year's United Nations Climate Conference, 104 countries signed a pledge to reduce methane emissions by 30% by 2030 compared to his 2020 levels. Neither India nor China has signed.

The authors plan to explore more landfills around the world in future studies.

"This is a rapidly developing field and we expect more interesting data to emerge soon," he said, Maasakkers. 

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