NASA’s Earth Surface Mineral Dust Source Investigation instrument (EMIT) aboard the International Space Station (ISS) revealed the “largest ever seen” plumes of methane gas rising into the Earth’s atmosphere over Turkmenistan, New Mexico and Iran.
“Some of the plumes EMIT detected are among the largest ever seen – unlike anything that has ever been observed from space,” Research Technologist at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) Andrew Thorpe said. “What we’ve found in a just a short time already exceeds our expectations.”
EMIT has detected a plume of methane gas that stretches about 3 miles long emitted from a massive waste-processing complex near Tehran, Iran, according to the NASA report. In New Mexico, an oilfield on the Permian basin seems to be the origin of a plume about 2 miles long.
Both of these fall short when compared to the 12 distinct plumes originating from the oil and gas infrastructure located in Turkmenistan near the Caspian Sea port of Hazar. Some of the plumes running west toward the sea are over 20 miles long, according to the report. (RELATED: Turkmenistan Wants To Close The ‘Gates of Hell’ Gas Crater)
The scientists at the JPL were able to estimate the flow rates of the gaseous emissions in the three areas. In New Mexico, they estimated flow rates of about 40,300 pounds per hour. At the Iranian site near Tehran, the gas flows at around 18,700 pounds per hour. On the Caspian Sea in Turkmenistan, the 12 plumes unleash over 111,000 pounds into the atmosphere per hour, according to the NASA report.
A June Bloomberg report ranked the South Caspian Basin in Turkmenistan as the second dirtiest gas producer in the world. Bloomberg added that “Russia’s Astrakhanskoye natural gas field has the biggest footprint across its supply chain because of prolific leaks on pipelines and other infrastructure ‘downstream.’” The Permian Basin in West Texas ranks third, according to Bloomberg.