Planet-warming emissions from burping cows seen from space 2022-04-30 09:43:03


The emissions were detected by environmental data company GHGSat’s high-resolution satellites in February, according to a company press release. In April, the company’s analysis confirmed that the emissions came from a cattle fattening field in California’s Joaquin Valley.

The satellites recorded five emissions, GHGSat says. If these emissions lasted for just one year, the company said, enough gas would be released “to power 15,402 homes.”

Brody White, director of sales at GHGSat, told CNN that this is the first time the company has known where scientists have been able to use satellite imagery to determine methane emissions from raising livestock. The company has three high-resolution satellites in orbit, and has previously used them to measure emissions from open-pit coal mines. GHGSat says each satellite is only the size of a microwave oven.

“It really pushes our envelope,” White said. “What sets us apart is that we can really get to the source” of the emissions, focusing on specific fattening fields.

Each satellite flies over a specific location for only 20 seconds, White said, and captures a quick “snapshot” of emissions. Over time, regular monitoring using these satellites can create a “time-lapse picture” showing the change in emissions over time, allowing farmers, for example, to test the effect of different diets on cows’ methane emissions.