The end result will be an accurate assessment of greenhouse gases and the trends that affect them.
By Linn Smith
December 11, 2014—At least 70% of fossil fuel CO2 emissions and a significant amount of methane emissions come from the world’s largest cities, cities with 10 million or more people. According to NASA, our planet’s 40 largest cities combined are the 3rd largest CO2 emitters. Riley Duren, of NASA, is part of the project which is testing methods to monitor the greenhouse gases above megacities. Mr. Duren says he hopes to work worldwide to create a global carbon monitoring system. L.A. and Paris are pilot cities in this project. By the end of 2014, Los Angeles will host 15 monitoring stations around the city to get an overall picture of pollution above Los Angeles.
Using a Variety of Tools to Detect Pollution
According to the article, NASA and Partners Target Megacities Carbon Emissions, “Most countries and some states produce annual inventories of their greenhouse gas emissions based on energy statistics and other data, but the same information is typically not available for individual cities.” The Megacities Project uses a variety of measuring tools to accurately assess the emission of greenhouse gases by a city. The measuring tools include instruments on towers and buildings, measurements from aircraft, mountain peaks and satellites, and instruments which interpret the data by tracking the wind.
Directly linking the CO2 “hotspots” accurately with cities that are pollution megaproducers has so far not happened. It has been difficult to take enough measurements to get local data of CO2 above a city. This is changing with advanced technology and information from satellites, such as NASA’s Orbiting Carbon Observatory (OCO-2). (See the Planet Earth Weekly article, “Studying Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide: The Launching of OCO-2”, July 29, 2014.)
The end result will be an accurate assessment of greenhouse gases and the trends that affect them. This monitoring system will hopefully be extended in the future, to smaller cities and large power plants. The information will eventually be shared and combined with other data of a city to direct policies for a cleaner environment.