Satellites use solar reflections to detect methane leaks offshore.

Glint mode is a technology that allows leaks of methane from offshore oil rigs to be detected from space. In the past, this was an extremely difficult task to accomplish.

It is more difficult to detect methane leaks from space when there is water around.

Images courtesy of Chris Graythen/Getty Images

It is feasible to detect methane leaks from offshore oil rigs from space thanks to a satellite monitoring system that makes advantage of the reflection of the sun.

Methane is an extremely powerful greenhouse gas that is approximately 80 times more effective than carbon dioxide at retaining heat. Since pre-industrial times, there has been a more than twofold increase in the amount of methane found in the atmosphere. This increase is mostly attributable to human activities such as farming, the use of landfills, and the extraction of oil and gas.

A growing number of satellites, in addition to aircraft and sensors located on the ground, are being used to monitor methane plumes.

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