In Partnership with UArizona, New Nonprofit to Launch Satellite Program to Track Greenhouse Gas Emissions
In a first-of-its-kind coalition to accelerate climate change action, and with help from UArizona researchers, a new nonprofit organization called Carbon Mapper is launching a program to improve scientific understanding of global methane and carbon dioxide emissions.

Research, Innovation and Impact
April 15, 2021

Carbon Mapper, a new nonprofit organization partnering with the University of Arizona, today announced a groundbreaking program to help improve understanding of and accelerate reductions in global methane and carbon dioxide emissions. The Carbon Mapper consortium also announced plans to deploy a satellite constellation to pinpoint, quantify and track methane and carbon dioxide emissions.

"This decade represents an all-hands-on-deck moment for humanity to make critical progress in addressing climate change," said Riley Duren, research scientist in the UArizona Office of Research, Innovation and Impact and CEO of Carbon Mapper. "Our mission is to help fill gaps in the emerging global ecosystem of methane and CO2 monitoring systems by delivering data that's timely, actionable and accessible for science-based decision making."

Current approaches to measuring methane and carbon dioxide emissions at the scale of individual facilities – particularly intermittent activity – present challenges, especially in terms of transparency, accuracy, scalability and cost.

Carbon Mapper – which also is partnering with the state of California, NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Planet, Arizona State University, High Tide Foundation and RMI – will help overcome these technological barriers and enable accelerated action by making publicly available high emitting methane and carbon dioxide sources quickly and persistently visible at the facility level. The data collected by the Carbon Mapper constellation of satellites will provide more complete, precise and timely measurement of methane and carbon dioxide source level emissions as well as more than 25 other environmental indicators.

Through the Carbon Mapper-UArizona partnership, Duren and other UArizona researchers offer scientific leadership of the methane and carbon dioxide emissions data delivery including developing new algorithms and analytic frameworks for testing them with an ongoing research program.

"Time is of the essence when it comes to understanding and mitigating methane and CO2 emissions," said Senior Vice President for Research and Innovation Elizabeth "Betsy" Cantwell. "Partnering with Carbon Mapper will give University of Arizona researchers the tools needed to not only see emissions hot spots, but to understand their causes and develop actionable plans for reducing or eliminating these sources."

Carbon Mapper, in collaboration with its public and private partners, is developing the satellite constellation in three phases. The initial study phase, now complete, included two years of preliminary engineering development and manufacturing. The first phase is underway and includes development of the first two satellites by Planet and JPL, scheduled for launch in 2023, accompanying data processing platforms, and ongoing cooperative methane mitigation pilot projects using aircraft in California and other U.S. states.

Carbon Mapper is also developing a public portal to make the data available for use by industry, governments and private citizens to improve greenhouse gas accounting, expedite repair of leaks, support disaster response and improve environmental resilience.


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Riley Duren

Research, Innovation and Impact