NASA reveals incredible fire map of the world

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Over the last decade, a mysterious spike in atmospheric methane has perplexed scientists, with research teams each producing different estimates that alone appeared to account for the entire increase.

Emissions from the oil and gas industry are known to be a major players in the rise of atmospheric methane, along with microbial production in wet tropical environments – but, the sum of each appeared far too high.

Now, a new calculation of global fires has solved the puzzle, revealing that methane emissions from fires have dropped far more than previously suspected, finally allowing the ‘methane budget’ to balance. 

 The animated map was created with data from the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectrometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Terra and Aqua satellites, spanning September 2000-August 2015

WHAT THEY FOUND 

In determining the sources of the methane emissions, carbon isotopes and the presence of ethane can be a major clue.

Heavy carbon isotopes are more abundant in emissions from fires, while microbial emissions have the smallest amount.

Fossil fuels, on the other hand, are linked with higher amounts of atmospheric ethane, which is a component of natural gas.

According to the new research fossil fuels account for roughly 17 teragrams per year of atmospheric methane increase, and 12 comes from wetlands or rice farming.

At the same time, methane from fires is decreasing by about 4 teragrams each year.

With the new calculations, the researchers say the numbers now match the observed increase – a total of 25 teragrams a year.

A single teragram equals about the weight of 17,000 elephants.

NASA has revealed a look at the change in monthly burned areas around the world in a hypnotic new animated map.

The map tracks burned areas, which are estimated by applying an algorithm that detects rapid changes in visible and infrared surface reflectance imagery, over the course of 15 years in places all around the world.

It was created with data from the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectrometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Terra and Aqua satellites, spanning September 2000-August 2015.

‘Fires typically darken the surface in the visible part of the electromagnetic spectrum, and brighten the surface in several wavelength bands in the shortwave infrared that are sensitive to the surface water content of vegetation,’ NASA explains.

‘Thermal emissions from actively burning fires are also measured by MODIS and are used to improve the burned area estimates in croplands and other areas where the fire sizes are relatively small.’

The study found that global burned areas decreased each year by roughly 12 percent between the early 2000s and a period from 2004-2014.

And, the satellite measurements of methane and carbon monoxide reveal the decrease in methan emissions was about twice as much as that.

NASA has revealed a look at the change in monthly burned areas around the world in a hypnotic new animated map. Regions shown in blue and green shades indicate small burned areas while those in red and orange represent a larger percent of the region burned

NASA has revealed a look at the change in monthly burned areas around the world in a hypnotic new animated map. Regions shown in blue and green shades indicate small burned areas while those in red and orange represent a larger percent of the region burned

According to the new research fossil fuels account for roughly 17 teragrams per year of atmospheric methane increase, and 12 comes from wetlands or rice farming.

At the same time, methane from fires is decreasing by about 4 teragrams each year.

With the new calculations, the researchers say the numbers now match the observed increase – a total of 25 teragrams a year.

A single teragram equals about the weight of 17,000 elephants.

In determining the sources of the methane emissions, carbon isotopes and the presence of ethane can be a major clue.

The study found that global burned areas decreased each year by roughly 12 percent between the early 2000s and a period from 2004-2014. The satellite measurements of methane and carbon monoxide reveal the decrease in methan emissions was about twice as much as that

The study found that global burned areas decreased each year by roughly 12 percent between the early 2000s and a period from 2004-2014. The satellite measurements of methane and carbon monoxide reveal the decrease in methan emissions was about twice as much as that

The study found that global burned areas decreased each year by roughly 12 percent between the early 2000s and a period from 2004-2014. The satellite measurements of methane and carbon monoxide reveal the decrease in methan emissions was about twice as much as that

Heavy carbon isotopes are more abundant in emissions from fires, while microbial emissions have the smallest amount.

Fossil fuels, on the other hand, are linked with higher amounts of atmospheric ethane, which is a component of natural gas.

The study could now put a long-running mystery to rest.

‘A fun thing about this study was combining all this different evidence to piece this puzzle together,’ said John Worden of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.

A new calculation of global fires has solved the puzzle, revealing that methane emissions from fires have dropped far more than previously suspected, finally allowing the ¿methane budget¿ to balance

A new calculation of global fires has solved the puzzle, revealing that methane emissions from fires have dropped far more than previously suspected, finally allowing the ¿methane budget¿ to balance

A new calculation of global fires has solved the puzzle, revealing that methane emissions from fires have dropped far more than previously suspected, finally allowing the ‘methane budget’ to balance





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