Unlocking the mystery of the Four Corners Hot Spot

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Unlocking the mystery of the Four Corners Hot Spot

Scientists zero in on the culprits behind a giant plume of greenhouse gases
A photograph of laptop computer screen shows a storage tank spewing methane gas as seen from a thermal camera imaging system operated by Andrew Thorpe of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory next to a natural gas facility near Aztec, N.M.
Natural gas production facilities outside of Bloomfield, N.M., in the San Juan Basin area where researchers are studying methane levels.
Gabrielle Petron, a climate scientist from the University of Colorado Boulder, working in NOAA’s Earth System Research Laboratory, monitors methane levels along South Fork Texas Creek, in Bayfield, using the NOAA mobile Laboratory.
Aircraft used for monitoring regional methane levels are at the ready at La Plata County Airport. Eric Kort, a climate expert with the University of Michigan, explains how the aircraft play a critical role in the regional air quality study of the San Juan Basin.
Monitoring equipment in NOAA’s mobile lab checks area methane levels in real time adjacent to a point source, located in a residential neighborhood in Bayfield.
Colm Sweeney and Gabrielle Petron of NOAA, Eric Kort of the University of Michigan and Christian Frankenberg of NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory on the tarmac of the Durango-La Plata County airport before the beginning of operations to study methane levels in the region.
An image provided by NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Michigan shows that the Four Corners area, in red, left, is the major U.S. hot spot for methane emissions. Lighter colors represent higher levels of methane.
Eric Kort, Christian Frankenberg, Colm Sweeney and Gabrielle Petron speak on the tarmac of the Durango-La Plata County airport.
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