The loss of methane from Nord Stream as seen from space


The loss of methane from Nord Stream as seen from space

The enormous loss of methane that occurred under the surface of the Baltic Sea during the explosions of the Nord Stream gas pipeline was also seen by the satellites specialized in the detection of the compound, resulting in that 79 thousand kilograms of methane ended up in the sea four days after the start of the leaks hourly.

It was GHGSat's radar and microwave satellites that immortalized the sensational leaks of methane from the pipeline. The leak from the two pipelines was the highest ever detected by GHGSat from a single source. Researchers from the University of Gothenburg managed to organize a mission aboard the Skagerak research ship, detecting methane levels a thousand times higher than normal.

Methane is one of the main greenhouse gases responsible for climate change. The researchers explain: "Because water absorbs most of the sunlight in the shortwave infrared wavelengths used for remote sensing of methane. This limits the amount of light reaching the sensor, thus making it extremely difficult to measure.

the concentrations of methane in the sea at high latitudes." After a few days, the flow of methane stopped, as confirmed in early October by the Sentinel-2 satellite of the EU's Copernicus mission and by the US Landsat 8.

Although the release of methane from the Nord Stream 1 and 2 pipelines was significant, as specified by ESA it pales in comparison to the 80 million tonnes emitted annually by the oil and gas industry.

The accident

Methane leaks spilled from the Nord Stream 1 and 2 pipelines in the Baltic Sea.

At the moment the cause of the accidents has not yet been officially determined, but experts believe it is very likely that it was a real act of sabotage with explosives. The two Russian-owned pipelines, which supplied the European Union with natural gas, ended up at the center of the sanctions imposed following the war in Ukraine.

Although they were not transferring gas at the time of the damage, Nord Stream 1 and 2 were still rich in pressurized methane, which after the explosions spilled into the sea and into the atmosphere in significant concentrations.

Meanwhile, an inexplicable power outage this morning occurred on the Danish island of Bornholm, in the Baltic Sea, near the site of the explosions that caused the leaks in the Nord Stream gas pipeline. This was announced by the electricity operator Energinet quoted by the international media.

The company said it believed the problem was related to an undersea power cable connecting the island's 40,000 residents to mainland Europe, but the exact cause of the outage was not yet known.