WTF Fun Facts12637 – Cow Burps Seen From Space

While it may be kind of funny, it’s really not a good thing that the methane emissions from cow burps can be viewed from space. That methane actually gets trapped in the earth’s atmosphere and contributes to climate change.

These emissions were detected by an environmental data company called GHGSat. Their high-resolution satellites saw the emissions in February, but it took until April to confirm their suspicions.

The burping cattle reside on a feedlot in California’s Joaquin Valley. According to CNN: “If these emissions were sustained for just one year, enough gas would be released ‘to power 15,402 homes,’ the company said.”

Farm cattle contribute to 10% of the greenhouse gas emissions generated by human activity around the world. In California alone, there are 650,000 beef cows.

This marks the first time that scientists have been able to use satellite imagery to pinpoint methane emissions from cattle farming.

CNN explained the process:

“The company has three high-resolution satellites in orbit, which it has previously used to measure emissions from open-pit coal mines. Each satellite is just the size of a microwave oven, says GHGSat. “This is really pushing the envelope of our capabilities,” said Wight. “What’s unique about us is we can really kind of get to the source” of emissions, focusing in on specific feedlots. Each satellite flies over a designated location for just about 20 seconds, taking a quick “snapshot” of emissions, Wight said. Over time, regular monitoring with these satellites could create a “temporal picture” showing the change in emissions over time, allowing farmers to, for instance, test out the impact of different diets on cows’ methane emissions.” – WTF fun facts

Source: “Planet-warming emissions from cow burps have been seen from space” — CNN