Industrial gas flares in oil production lead to soot emissions, which can intensify climate change, especially in high northern latitudes. In a global analysis, a data set was developed together with the Max Planck Institute for Chemistry to estimate these emissions using data of the European Sentinel-3 satellite. 


In oil production, gas flares are used to burn excess natural gas. The combustion residues can affect the health of people living in the surrounding area. They also contribute to global soot emissions. In high northern latitudes, this is particularly relevant for climate change in the Arctic, because the pollution of snow and ice by soot accelerates surface warming. 

Solution approach 

Together with the Max Planck Institute for Chemistry, a processing chain for the global estimation of trace gas and particle emissions from gas flares was developed. The data were obtained from the observations of the infrared cameras on the European Sentinel-3 satellite and from historical data from the ESA Envisat mission.  The results were compared with data obtained by the German FireBird satellites. 



The algorithms and processing chain developed provide the following benefits: 

  • Position, temperature and extent of the gas flares could be estimated from the operational data of the Sentinel-3 satellite. 
  • A fully automated process chain was developed for the global recording of soot emissions. 
  • The integration into operational services for monitoring the Earth’s atmosphere was prepared. 

Additional informationen


Max-Planck-Institut für Chemie
Gefördert durch das Bundesministerium für Wirtschaft.

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Gernot Rücker