Quick Introduction


On the front-end, Satellite Methane Tracker comprises a series of tools, integrated to provide an interactive, geographically accurate visualization of methane emissions. All the methane emissions measurements come from the Infrared Atmospheric Sounding Interferometer (IASI) instrument, aboard of the MetOp series of polar orbiting satellites of the European Space Agency (ESA). The original satellite imagery is coming from the Office of Satellite and Product Operations (OSPO), part of the National Environmental Satellite Data and Information Service (NESDIS) which is part of NOAA. The original CH4 METOP 2 IASI imagery can be found at: http://www.osdpd.noaa.gov/IASI/html/index.html.

Even though the plethora of data coming from IASI is vast in both quantity and quality, it is extremely time consuming, even for seasoned researchers, to be able to fully utilize the data, given the amount of visual data provided on each graph. For the same reason, it's difficult to perceive at a glance points of interest unless you're looking for areas of several hundred of square miles (smaller areas would be difficult to "eyeball").

After fighting for three months from February to May 2013 trying to accurately pinpoint the source(s) of the huge methane venting episode in Antarctica, and thanks to the motivation, help and historic data provided by Apocalypse4Real and guidance from Dr. Leonid Yurganov, I decided to go ahead and write:

A Parser that every day downloads all 100 layers from IASI and, pixel by pixel, extracts the color, of each graph.

A Visualization Framework where the new extracted data is plotted, allowing for ease of use on multiple, diverse scenarios. If you know what you're looking for, then you can select the mb layers on the left and go directly to the point of the planet of your interest. If you're just trying to discover emissions. You can select several layers for the date and then look at the Mercator Aggregated Layers under Google Earth, choose your point of interest and look at it on Google Earth.

I hope Satellite Methane Tracker helps your work with faster, more accurate representations and tools, as well as makes the choosing of field work locations faster and more accurate. Enjoy!

This is a work in progress. For this first alpha release, the functionality provided is:

  • Automated download, storage, parsing and pre-filtering of all methane data from IASI (0 - 12z and 12 - 24z).
  • Display of only the layers that contain methane over 1950ppb. Even if it's only one (1) pixel in yellow in the whole graph, that layer is included as an option.
  • Warped, geographically accurate maps of methane, overlaid at the right altitude in Google Earth.
  • Navigation options that help pinpoint with one click the exact altitude, latitude and longitude of the point of interest.
  • 3D visualization of methane layers (make sure you familiarize yourself with how to navigate Google Earth).
  • Near Real-Time Sea Ice Concentration data layers, created from the data coming from the University of Bremen in Germany.
  • Weather Layers. These are provided by wxtiles.com from NOAA data and at this point is only available as current conditions. As they expand their product to include historical data, the value of the layers will improve.
  • Mercator Layers at a glance, linking to the actual graph from IASI. These can be used to verify the data provided by Satellite Methane Tracker is accurate, as well as used to quickly identify points of interest. I painfully cleaned up one of the IASI graphs to use as the base to project the methane, so it should be exactly accurate if compared to the graph from IASI.
  • Unified Methane Layers view, showing an alternating 0-12z and 12-24z every day in Google Earth which compresses all 100 IASI layers into one layer. This tool is useful to quickly pinpoint locations of interest and dates of interest for those locations, as well as to quickly test hypotheses using the different data layers provided.
  • A Methane Watch List, created by the community. You can add the ones that interest you to your own personal watch list (please contribute!).
The functionality NOT provided at this point (but probably to be included later if you suggest it and vote for it) is:
  • Visualization of methane at other mixing ratios under 1950ppb.
  • Reports (average methane, etc.).
  • Historical data from weather layers.
  • Recording of videos from Google Earth.
  • Automatic generation of places with high methane as a list that you can click on to go to each place.
  • Actual 3D Collada models of the methane emission. I plan to include this functionality as soon as possible since it will allow the exact measurement of methane on the atmosphere on a particular area.
  • Mobile version of Methane Tracker. The website is responsive and built for mobile devices but the Satellite Methane Tracker itself it's just not there yet.
  • Downloadable KML and KMZ files to import on Google Earth desktop.

First of all, please do not attempt to use this website with Internet Explorer due to speed problems of IE displaying and animating multiple transparent layers. Please use a modern browser like Chrome or Firefox.

If you know what millibars you're looking for, please choose the date, choose the millibars of your interest (do not check all unless you have a VERY FAST computer and VERY FAST internet) and go to the Mercator layers underneath. Add or remove layers as you see fit, identify the area of your interest and visualize above using Google Earth.

Please do play with the options. At times, they will be surprisingly helpful. Here's a highlight of some of them:

  • If you need to know elevation of points and the elevation from where you're currently looking down, check the option "Status Bar".
  • If you're not familiar with navigating Google Earth with your keyboard, click here to learn and check the option "Navigation Control" to have a visual aid.
  • If you need exact coordinates from the map, please check the option "Grid" and use alongside the "Status Bar" option.
  • If you've found a point of interest on the Mercator projection below and you're slow finding your way in 3D, check the box "Overview Map" and a Mercator projection will appear to the bottom right in Google Earth. Just zoom in and click on it to go directly to your point of interest.
  • If you're ready to write and need help finding those pesky geographical markers, check the box "Geographical Info" to have an overlay of borders and names of cities, seas, rivers, etc.
All the methane emissions measurements come from the Infrared Atmospheric Sounding Interferometer (IASI) instrument, aboard of the MetOp series of polar orbiting satellites of the European Space Agencys (ESA).

The original satellite imagery is coming from the Office of Satellite and Product Operations (OSPO), part of the National Environmental Satellite Data and Information Service (NESDIS) which is part of NOAA. The original CH4 and CO2 METOP 2 IASI imagery can be found at: http://www.osdpd.noaa.gov/IASI/html/index.html

I want to thank Apocalypse4Real (thank you so much!) for his help, suggestions, testing, guidance and data! , as well as Dr. Leonid Yurganov for his suggestions.

I'm using jParallax to display the Mercator projections.