Carbon Dioxide Over the L.A. Metropolitan Area
This animation shows the accumulation of five adjoining swaths of data over the Los Angeles metropolitan area that when combined, create a map of carbon dioxide (CO2) concentrations that covers about 50 square miles (80 square kilometers). Researchers have used the data, collected by NASA's Orbiting Carbon Observatory 3 (OCO-3) instrument aboard the space station, to create one of the most accurate maps ever made from space of the human influence on CO2 abundances in the L.A. Basin
Each pixel is about 1.3 miles (2.2 kilometers); the color indicates how much higher the concentration of CO2 is in that spot than in clean desert air north of the city (measured at NASA's Armstrong Research Center, upper right). The highest CO2 readings, in yellow on the map, are on the west side of downtown L.A. – a densely populated area with congested freeways and CO2-emitting industries. Yellow indicates atmospheric CO2 elevated by five or more molecules out of every million molecules of air, or five parts per million. That's equivalent to the amount that global atmospheric CO2 is rising globally on average every two years
Most of the increasing CO2 in the global atmosphere comes from humans burning fossil fuels for energy, and 70&percnt of that comes from cities. Los Angeles has set goals for cutting its carbon emissions. This type of data can help decisionmakers choose the most effective policies to reach those goals and to measure the effectiveness of new regulations. Data from ground level provides critical local measurements, but satellite data is equally necessary because it covers a wider area and also measure CO2 throughout the entire depth of the atmosphere.