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Sensitivity Analysis for Mapping Methane with Airborne and Satellite Imaging Spectrometers


Atmospheric methane has been increasing in concentration since the beginning of the Industrial Era due to anthropogenic emissions. Methane has many anthropogenic sources, including the oil and gas industries, agriculture, and waste management. There continues to be considerable uncertainty regarding the contribution of each source to the total methane budget; therefore, remote sensing techniques for monitoring and measuring methane emissions are of increasing interest. Imaging spectrometers have proven to be a valuable instrument for quantitative mapping of point source methane plumes. However, there are significant uncertainties regarding the sensitivity of the retrieval algorithms, including the influence of albedo, the impact of surfaces that may cause spurious signals, aerosols, and the influence of the wind speed on flux estimations. In addition, questions remain regarding the potential to move these sensors from airborne platforms to satellites. I explore these sensitivities to help improve accurate mapping of this important greenhouse gas. I also explore the possibility to expand our ability to map point sources methane plumes from a a local scale to a global scale. The findings from this study help define the accuracy and limitations of current and future systems for methane mapping and outline what is needed in order to map point source methane globally.

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