Unveiling Solutions for Rising Greenhouse Gases: Exploring Hyperspectral Imaging

Greenhouse Gases

Hyperspectral imaging has the potential to transform the way we monitor our atmosphere and change our approach to the future of urban and environmental monitoring. 

Over the past century, greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions have increased significantly largely due to human activities, posing risks to our planet and society. And although the rate of increase has slowed in the past decade, the general concentrations continue to rise, emphasising the need for effective monitoring and reduction efforts.

Identifying and monitoring the sources and sectors responsible for GHG emissions is crucial for developing effective strategies and policies to reduce their impact on climate change. For this reason, hyperspectral imaging presents itself as a viable solution to understanding the composition and distribution of GHGs in the Earth’s atmosphere.

Global Collaboration on Greenhouse Gas Monitoring

To combat climate change, organisations are required to record and report their emissions under internationally recognized protocols as a law. Global initiatives (such as Greenhouse Gas Reporting Program (GHGRP) and Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD)) mandate large companies to disclose information about their activities and environmental impact regularly. Additionally, global standards established by organisations like the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) provide comprehensive guidelines for quantifying, monitoring and reporting GHG emissions and their reduction.

The Paris Climate Agreement has become an international standard for the private sector, especially given the trend of broader acceptance of environmental, social, and governance (ESG) criteria. So far, approximately 33% of Fortune Global 500 companies have publicly committed to achieving the targets set out, including carbon neutrality. 

While such initiatives are imperative to the regularisation of GHG concentrations in our atmosphere and therefore, they require advanced monitoring and analysis technologies to ensure environmental compliance. And here’s where the rise of hyperspectral imaging technologies plays an important role in achieving these targets. 

Monitoring emissions using hyperspectral imaging techniques can help organisations remain compliant with emission reduction policies across various sectors. It generates valuable data for climate models and supports international climate agreements, such as the UN’s Cop26 methane pledge by providing accurate information on GHG emissions.

Comprehensive monitoring efforts using hyperspectral data help assess the effectiveness of emission reduction measures and identify areas for improvement. This enables informed decision-making toward achieving emission reduction goals.

Hyperspectral Imaging: Precise Emissions Monitoring

Satellite-based sensors have revolutionised GHG monitoring by providing valuable data on their concentration, distribution, and variation. GHGs are detected through spectroscopy due to the unique interactions they exhibit in the infrared part of the electromagnetic spectrum. This interaction is also responsible for their heat-capture effect. Satellite-based sensors use this unique property to detect GHG emissions in point and non-point sources. 

Although a lot of important information about the state of our planet’s atmosphere has emerged using traditional multispectral imaging satellites, these tend to lack sensitivity to certain atmospheric compounds, including aerosols which hinder the detection of GHGs. This is due to their low spectral resolution, meaning that they collect less information across the spectrum in fewer wavelength bands.

Hyperspectral imaging offers superior capabilities compared to multispectral imaging due to its specific wavelength bands, resulting in enhanced sensitivity. This sensitivity allows hyperspectral sensors to detect GHG emissions amongst largely non-homogenous atmospheric conditions and in the presence of aerosols. 

Furthermore, hyperspectral imaging is particularly well-suited for detecting point sources and identifying gas emissions, even at relatively low levels. It provides accurate and real-time information, enabling effective mitigation of GHGs and climate change.

Methane Bombs Revealed through Hyperspectral Imaging

Methane bombs are areas where gas leaks pose a significant climate threat. Detecting and monitoring methane emissions is crucial since they contribute significantly to global heating. Currently, methane emissions account for 25% of global heating, making them a significant challenge to achieving climate targets.

Greenhouse Gases

Energy generation is one of the major contributors to methane emissions. 

Hyperspectral sensors on Earth observation satellites offer hope for effectively addressing methane emissions and reducing their impact on the climate. This technology allows for the identification of methane hotspots and the monitoring of emission concentrations in near-real time. Hyperspectral satellite imagery provides a detection limit ranging from approximately 100 to 500 kg per hour, enabling swift action to address the sources of emissions. On the other hand multispectral sensors, which are less sensitive, exhibit detection thresholds between 1800 – 2000 kg per hour, under favourable conditions. 

Efficient detection of methane leaks supports targeted measures to reduce emissions and evaluate emission reduction efforts. Hyperspectral imaging also aids in monitoring other GHG emissions, facilitating proactive measures to mitigate their impact.

Pixxel’s Hyperspectral Satellites for Net-Zero Emission Solutions

Pixxel’s upcoming constellation of hyperspectral satellites offers a promising solution for space-based GHG emissions monitoring. Hyperspectral imaging provides enhanced capabilities for identifying and quantifying GHGs, supporting global efforts to mitigate climate change. 

Once fully operational, the constellation will provide high spectral fidelity images at 5m spatial resolutions and a daily 24h revisit rate. The technical capabilities of the sensors provide robust and detailed hyperspectral data which can be applied across a wide range of use cases, from monitoring power plant emissions to detecting fugitive emissions along pipelines.

The accurate data gathered through hyperspectral imaging empowers decision-makers to implement impactful strategies for a greener and more environmentally resilient world. Pixxel’s hyperspectral satellite constellation plays a vital role in achieving net-zero emissions by providing targeted monitoring practices.

Read the detailed version of this article on our website or find out more about how hyperspectral imaging can benefit your organisation. 

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