Gas Flare Detection and Characterization

Gas Flare Detection and Characterization

Flaring and venting reduction has been a priority of Alberta’s energy industry regulators since 1938. The World Bank’s Global Gas Flaring Reduction Partnership (GGFR) and other international communities have adopted a voluntary standard for global gas flaring reduction based on Alberta’s successful effort in reducing flaring and venting. The AGS is investigating using EO technologies to measure and characterize gas flares and associated emissions in Alberta. We have developed an advanced technique to detect daytime gas flares using Landsat-8 data, as shown in Figure 1.

Landsat Daytime Gas Flare

Figure 1. Daytime gas flare detection using Landsat-8 data.

This work was inspired by similar studies involving night-time gas flare detection using the NOAA visible infrared imaging radiometer suite (VIIRS) Nightfire sensor. The VIIRS Nightfire system is the only satellite fire detection system that estimates combustion source size, temperature, methane equivalents (m3/s), and carbon dioxide emission rates (g/s) worldwide on a daily basis using VIIRS data. AGS has developed a semi-automated system to download and query near-real-time and historical VIIRS Nightfire data for Alberta. Frequency of observation maps (Figure 2) can be produced for a number of days or months to show how many times gas flares were detected from facilities in Alberta.

GGFR provides annual rankings of top flaring countries, based on the volume estimates of NOAA’s daily VIIRS Nightfire data, showing national and global magnitudes and trends of gas flaring activity. The AGS has been seeking industry volunteers to help validate/calibrate NOAA’s gas flare volume estimates with accurate ground-based flare measurements in order to improve the accuracy of international flaring estimates.

NOAA Nightfire System

Figure 2. Frequency of observation map derived from the NOAA Nightfire system.


Chowdhury, S., Shipman, T., Chao, D., Elvidge, C.D., Zhizhin, M. and Feng-Chi Hsu (2014): Daytime gas flare detection using Landsat-8 multispectral data; Geoscience and Remote Sensing Symposium (IGARSS), 2014 IEEE International, p.258–261, Quebec City, Quebec, Canada, 13–18 July 2014, doi:10.1109/IGARSS.2014.6946406