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Powerful Clouds of Methane Spotted Over Chinese Coal Mines

A plume detected Dec. 21 was the second-worst concentration of the gas attributed to coal mines in China last year, according to Kayrros.

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A satellite detected clouds of the super-potent greenhouse gas methane coming from China’s main coal-producing region, drawing attention to a lesser-known global warming consequence of the country’s reliance on the dirtiest fossil fuel. 

The emissions likely came from multiple mines in China’s northeastern Shanxi province, which produces more than 10% of the world’s coal. One plume spotted on Dec. 21 had an estimated emissions rate of 68 metric tons of methane an hour, while another seen on Dec. 4 probably had a rate of 53 tons an hour, according to geoanalytics firm Kayrros SAS.