Mapping Global Carbon Dioxide Emissions

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Researchers recently published the results of developing a system for measuring global carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions in the Journal of Geophysical Research.  Named “Fossil Fuel Data Assimilation System” or FFDAS, the system is able to quantify at the city level fifteen years of CO2 emissions from 1997 – 2009.  The research represents the first time scientists have been able to provide a more fine grained assessment of CO2 emissions.  Previous efforts have involved a broader scale of quantifying emissions or used less accurate methodologies.

FFDAS uses remote sensing data from satellite images combined with national fuel accounts and a new global database on power plants to create a global map of CO2 emissions.  FFDAS is able to quantify hourly CO2 emissions from fossil fuels at a resolution of 10 kilometers for the entire world.  For example, CO2 emissions vary depending on the time.  During the daytime, hourly CO2 emissions are higher than at night.  In the screenshot taken from the introductory video about FFDAS, the CO2 emissions change from red (higher than the mean) to green (below the mean) as the region of world falls into night.

Daily variation in CO2 emissions.
Daily variation in CO2 emissions.

The researchers hope this higher accuracy data will be used by world leaders and policy makers in developing climate agreements for emission reductions.  “With this system, we are taking a big step toward creating a global monitoring system for greenhouse gases, something that is needed as the world considers how best to meet greenhouse gas reductions,” said Kevin Robert Gurney, lead investigator and associate professor in ASU’s School of Life Sciences. “Now we can provide all countries with detailed information about their CO2 emissions and show that independent, scientific monitoring of greenhouse gases is possible.”

The research team was made up of scientists from Arizona State University, University of Melbourne, Australia, NOAA’s National Geophysical Data Center, Colorado State University and Purdue University. NASA funded the three-year FFDAS project.

The data from the FFDAS project is available for downloading. Below is an animation of CO2 emissions.

Visit the Fossil Fuel Data Assimilation System – FFDAS site for more information.

Global fossil fuel CO2 emissions as represented by the Fossil Fuel Data Assimilation System (FFDAS).
Global fossil fuel CO2 emissions for 2009 as represented by the Fossil Fuel Data Assimilation System (FFDAS).

Hourly CO2 Emissions from 1997-2009

This animation shows the loads of CO2 in the atmosphere.  More CO2 is emitted by industrialized countries.  The emitted CO2 rapidly mixes and moves with weather systems.


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Measuring Methane and Carbon Dioxide Plumes with Remote Sensing

The European Space Agency together with NASA has also been testing a method of measuring carbon dioxide and methane emissions with its CarbonSat candidate satellite mission.  Detailed spatial imaging of emissions from these two greenhouse gases would be achieved via an absorption spectrometer. More: Paving the way for carbon mission.

Methane plume measured during the Comex campaign to support the development of CarbonSat – one of the two candidates for ESA’s eighth Earth Explorer satellite mission. The campaign was carried out in August–September 2014 in California, USA. In a joint effort, the campaign also supported the development of NASA’s Hyspiri satellite. The measurements collected by Mamap on an aircraft clearly show that a landfill site near Los Angeles is emitting methane (shown in red) and that it is travelling in the same direction as the wind.
Methane plume measured during the Comex campaign to support the development of CarbonSat – one of the two candidates for ESA’s eighth Earth Explorer satellite mission. The campaign was carried out in August–September 2014 in California, USA. In a joint effort, the campaign also supported the development of NASA’s Hyspiri satellite. The measurements collected by Mamap on an aircraft clearly show that a landfill site near Los Angeles is emitting methane (shown in red) and that it is travelling in the same direction as the wind. Source: University of Bremen.




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