CarbonSpace - News

Tracking carbon emissions from space – how does it work?

Thanks to the Paris Agreement we now have a common climate goal – to limit global warming to below 2°C and to keep it as close to 1.5°C as possible. Getting there requires efficient carbon management and monitoring systems.

Currently, carbon footprints are assessed using a number of parameters. What parameters are used depends on the type of asset. Some of these estimates are quite accurate. E.g. one can easily calculate the carbon footprint of a coal power plant or a fleet of trucks. All one needs to know is the amount of fuel burnt and the emission factors. However, it is much harder to estimate the carbon profile of other assets, like crop fields, livestock farms, and forests. They are vast and often scattered, and they not only emit carbon, but also capture it.

To calculate the carbon profile of an agricultural field or a forest stand, analysts multiply their area by estimates from databases. These estimates are broad and rarely make adjustments for specific climate conditions. Moreover, these estimates are yearly, and do not provide data on seasonal changes in carbon profiles. Assessing carbon footprint more accurately also requires site-specific data, which is collected through time-consuming and expensive site visits, questionnaires and interviews with farmers and foresters.

Satellite monitoring overcomes these issues. At CarbonSpace we have developed a platform that estimates greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions for different types of assets around the world.

Our platform relies on three data streams – data from GHG satellites, high-resolution imagery from satellites that monitor the Earth’s surface, and ground data.

GHG satellites measure the concentration of GHGs in the atmosphere. These data streams allow to estimate carbon emissions with medium-low resolution (10-100 km). To calculate these more accurately, we use ground data from hundreds of carbon flux monitoring stations and multispectral satellite data. And finally, we apply an AI model — our proprietary set of algorithms — which analyses all three data streams and calculates carbon sources and sinks for a particular land asset with up to 30 m resolution. Data is updated monthly, which allows us to track seasonal changes.

The historic footprint is normally calculated for the period 2000-2019, and on demand even back to the 1980s. Below, you will find global carbon footprint maps created with the data from our platform for January and July of 2018. Emissions are shown in red and carbon sinks, in blue. You can see that major removals happen in the northern hemisphere in the summer as plants absorb carbon dioxide for photosynthesis.

Global CO2 maps for January and July of 2018 developed using emission data from CarbonSpace platform.

In May 2020, experts of the European Space Agency (ESA) evaluated our technology and its business potential and selected our platform for an AI Kick-start activity. The program supports companies that harness space-based technologies and AI to develop ground-breaking tools and create value for business and the society.

CarbonSpace platform is already being used in agriculture, forest management, ports, and cities:

· In agriculture, it helps assess the carbon footprint of farms and fields around the world and evaluate the impact of sustainable farming techniques.

· In forest management, it accurately estimates changes in carbon removal rates due to deforestation or afforestation.

· In ports, it assesses the cumulative carbon footprint of all the emitters: ships, trucks, boilers, — and streamlines carbon reporting.

· In cities, it monitors the overall emissions of stationary sources and traffic, and evaluates the impact of emission reduction initiatives.

If you think we could help you monitor carbon emissions or removals for your assets, please book a meeting with our team.