Google and the EDF want to track methane emissions from space

Google and Environmental Defense Fund's MethaneSAT
(Image credit: Google)

Google Cloud has joined forces with the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) to combat methane emissions, which are among the top contributors to global warming, as part of the company’s battle to become more sustainable.

With 2023 revealed as the hottest year on record, the pressure is on multinational firms to curb the rise in temperatures, reducing the risk of catastrophic events like wildfires, droughts and floods.

Unsurprisingly, the solution, according to Google, leverages artificial intelligence to map out hotspots by analyzing satellite imagery.

Google uses AI to reduce emissions

In a blog post, the company outlined how methane from human sources accounts for around 30% of global warming. It’s a gas that’s produced during the extraction of fossil fuels from the Earth.

The Google-EDF partnership is set to allow companies to pinpoint and trace methane emissions to their exact sources, allowing them, researchers, and other public sector organizations to jump into action and curtail emissions.

A key component of the initiative will be EDF’s new satellite, MethaneSAT, which is scheduled for a SpaceX Falcon 9 launch in early March. Orbiting the Earth 15 times per day at an altitude of over 350 miles in the thermosphere where Starlink satellites circulate, MethaneSAT is set to combine mapping and measurement capabilities with Google Cloud-backed AI technology. Scientists from Harvard University and the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory have also contributed to the work.

In addition to detecting emissions, Google Cloud and EDF have planned to create a map of oil and gas infrastructure that can be overlaid with MethaneSAT data to reveal sources of methane leaks.

Moreover, MethaneSAT data is also set to become available on Google Earth Engine later this year, where researchers can overlay the information with over data points.

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Craig Hale

With several years’ experience freelancing in tech and automotive circles, Craig’s specific interests lie in technology that is designed to better our lives, including AI and ML, productivity aids, and smart fitness. He is also passionate about cars and the decarbonisation of personal transportation. As an avid bargain-hunter, you can be sure that any deal Craig finds is top value!