More than 50 locations around the world are leaking significant amounts of methane, according to NASA scientists using a technique created to examine how dust impacts climate. This discovery could aid in the fight against the powerful greenhouse gas. 

In a press release on Tuesday, NASA Administrator Bill Nelson said “reining in methane emissions is key to limiting global warming.” 

Researchers will be able to better identify where methane leaks are originating from thanks to this exciting new finding, which will also assist them to understand how to promptly address them. 

According to NASA, the Earth Surface Mineral Dust Source Investigation (EMIT) is intended to advance knowledge of how airborne dust affects climate.

However, EMIT, which can focus on areas as tiny as a soccer field and was placed on the International Space Station in July, has also demonstrated the capacity to identify the presence of methane. 

Currently known methane “super-emitters” have been found in Central Asia, the Middle East, and the southwestern United States, according to NASA. The majority of them are involved in the garbage, agriculture, or fossil fuel industries. 

Roughly 30% of the current global temperature rise is attributable to methane.

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On a century-long time frame, it is around 28 times more potent than a greenhouse gas, although being far less prevalent in the environment than CO2. It had an 80-fold increase in power over 20 years. 

Unlike CO2, which can stay in the atmosphere for hundreds or even thousands of years, methane lasts about ten years. 

According to the UN Environment Programme, this indicates that a significant reduction in emissions could reduce projected global warming by several tenths of a degree Celsius by the middle of the century, preserving the Paris Agreement goal of limiting the Earth’s average temperature increase to 1.5C. (UNEP).

(with inputs from agencies)