Pulse is a free-to-use map that helps you see concentrations of methane in the atmosphere worldwide. This tool is designed to raise awareness of, and support discussions about, this potent greenhouse gas.
A free-to-use, high-resolution map of methane around the world
How to use PULSE?
Once you’ve logged into PULSE for the first time, you will be able to navigate around the map to see the spatial and temporal movement of methane in the atmosphere over land. A time slider function at the bottom of the screen lets you explore how the concentrations of methane change over time, with the facility to track back, up to six months.
What PULSE can show you?
What you can see on the map are concentrations of methane in the atmosphere from both natural and man-made sources combined. You can see how methane moves through our atmosphere and also, by using the time slider, you can see the differences in concentration levels over a six-month time period.
Can I share the map?
Yes. You can easily share a specific area of interest on the map in time. Select a location and a date that you want to share. Click on the button SHARE THIS MAP located in the header on the right, it will generate a link that you can copy and share.
What PULSE can’t tell you?
PULSE is designed to give the first publicly available high-resolution map of methane concentrations in our atmosphere for free. By making this visualization tool publicly available, we want to raise awareness of, and support discussion about, this potent greenhouse gas. Whilst we can see methane concentrations, it is not possible to use the map to identify specific sources of methane. This is because the data powering the map is based on rolling monthly averages and we also need to take into account that winds move methane through our atmosphere.
What does ‘concentrations’ mean?
‘Concentrations’ refer to the amount of gas present in a given volume in the atmosphere, whereas an ‘emission’ refers to the rate at which gas is released into the atmosphere.
How do you calculate the concentration levels?
PULSE shows methane concentrations on a grid averaging 2km x 2km over land, and is based on monthly averages, updated weekly.
What does the colour scale mean?
Concentrations of methane are shown in ‘parts per billion’ (ppb), in other words, number of methane molecules per billion air molecules, with the colour scale there to make changes in concentration easy to see.
PULSE uses the same methane colour scale as the Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service (CAMS).
It looks like there is a high concentration of methane over my region - should I be concerned?
PULSE shows concentrations that result from both the emission (release) and transport (movement in the atmosphere due to winds and chemical processes) of methane. Methane is produced by natural processes, such as the decay of vegetation in wetlands but a significant proportion (c. 60%) is attributable to human activity, with energy production, agriculture and waste management (landfills and dumpsites) all being major sources. Seasonality and topography are also factors that can explain variations in methane concentrations. As a result, a high concentration over a region is not a reason for concern, but rather the start of a broader discussion to better understand the underlying cause(s).
Why can I see patches of grey over land?
Some areas of the world do not have reliable measurements, particularly in mountainous areas and areas with frequent cloud cover.
Why can’t I see methane concentrations over oceans?
Water absorbs sunlight rather than reflect it back to space as land does. As a result, measurements with most satellites (such as GHGSat’s Iris and Sentinel-5P/TROPOMI) operating in shortwave infrared (SWIR) are not possible over water. Other models predict the transport of methane over water; PULSE is designed to show average concentrations based on measurements rather than to make predictions.
Where does the data behind PULSE come from?
GHGSat’s PULSE is based on data from TROPOMI, the instrument on the European Space Agency’s Sentinel-5P satellite that was launched in October 2017, and from our own high-resolution satellites. GHGSat currently has two satellites “Claire” and “Iris” in orbit, 500km above the Earth, and “Hugo” is due to be launched by the end of 2020. Our goal is to have 10 high-resolution satellites monitoring greenhouse gas emissions by the end of 2022 and we will continue to add this data and data from our aircraft service, that uses the same high-resolution emissions detection technology, over the coming months.
Can I access data to find out potential sources of methane emissions?
PULSE does not indicate potential sources of methane. For source attribution, GHGSat also offers a range of commercial services to support industry and Governments to identify and mitigate methane emissions to meet global warming and climate change targets. These services include hotspot detection, predictive analysis and 25m resolution imagery to identify sources. You can find out more about these commercial services at www.ghgsat.com
Will GHGSat provide the underlying data to PULSE?
GHGSat will eventually make the underlying data available to qualifying users for non-commercial purposes, with priority given to academic institutions. Please subscribe to the PULSE newsletter or message email@example.com to be contacted when the data becomes available.
Can GHGSat provide the underlying data for commercial use?
Yes. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org with specific requests.
Why have you built PULSE?
GHGSat announced the map at the World Economic Forum (WEF) Annual Meeting in Davos in January 2020, where GHGSat was invited to participate as a WEF Technology Pioneer. The map was promised as a contribution to COP26 discussions, an opportunity for GHGSat to share its greenhouse gas expertise and data for free to help tackle climate change.