Satellite Points finger to Persian Gulf for Emissions Under-Reporting


You can run but you can’t hide.

Canadian researchers have found a new, satellite-based technology that -accurately- detects polluters from outer space, and caught 39 large polluters red-handed for non-reporting of their emissions.

Fourteen of those were located in the Persian Gulf, with total contribution to global sulphur dioxide emissions of staggering 6 to 12%.

The study, published this week in the journal Nature Geoscience, used a satellite-based simultaneous detection, mapping, and emission-quantifying procedure to locate pollution ‘hot spots’ across the globe, and compile an inventory of pollutants. The results were then compared with three conventional state-of-the-science inventories, including the Hemispheric Transport of Air Pollutants, which depend on bottom-up approach for quantifying emissions. This latter approach, however, might not mirror actual emissions, especially from developing nations that might lack comprehensive reporting requirements and infrastructure. Enter the satellite detective.

Seven to 14 million metric tons of sulphur dioxide emissions, which have gone missing from inventories, came from polluters in the Persian Gulf, accounting for 6 to 12% of global sulphur dioxide emissions. Most of the hotspots turned out to be large oil refinery complexes.

The plot thickens.

Not only sulphur dioxide from remote oil facilities, but also nitrogen dioxide and nitrogen oxides were revealed to be emitted in large quantities and under-reported. Those latter two pollutants correspond to combustion sources in urban areas, which also happen to be the same sources of carbon dioxide. And yet, some of these missing nitrogen dioxide sources were also missing from the carbon dioxide inventories, as per the study.


In a nutshell, polluters in and around the Persian Gulf are under-reporting all sulphur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, and carbon dioxide. That’s a 3-strikes.

These pollutants have deadly effects on human health, the environment, and the economies. It’s worth noting that countries on the shores of the Persian Gulf are way up on the list of nations with highest carbon dioxide emissions per capita.

More insights on Canadian-Gulf environment bilateral dynamics, here

Photos sourced from and

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