As a member of
"The current estimate is that cities are responsible for about 70 percent of energy-related carbon dioxide emissions worldwide, so cities are a big contributor," says Lin, an associate professor of atmospheric sciences at the
Launch of OCO-2 was scheduled at Vandenberg for
Lin and his research group will combine computer simulations or "models" of the atmosphere with urban carbon dioxide measurements from the OCO-2 satellite to "back calculate" emissions of carbon dioxide or CO2 from urban regions.
From its 438-mile-high, near-polar orbit, "OCO-2 will provide a unique way to measure from space the degree to which carbon dioxide is enhanced over cities around the globe," he says.
Lin and his colleagues will analyze the OCO-2 measurements and try to isolate carbon dioxide emissions from cities by studying how urban atmospheric levels of the gas are influenced by shifting winds and emissions from nonurban sources such as forest fires and from vegetation and oceans - both of which absorb and emit the gas. If the approach used in
In addition to monitoring human-caused emissions from different areas of the world, a major goal of the OCO-2 mission is to discover natural "sinks" on land and in the oceans that absorb carbon dioxide gas. Despite sharp increases in emissions due to fossil-fuel burning since the Industrial Revolution, less than half of the carbon dioxide emitted into the atmosphere by human activities stays there. Scientists want to know where it goes so they can better predict future concentrations in the air and make climate change predictions more accurate.
Lin says his urban emissions research using OCO-2 data doesn't directly relate to that question because "the missing 'sinks' are related to the vegetation on the land surface absorbing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. It's unknown which parts of the global land surface are absorbing the carbon dioxide and why, but we don't think the sink is in cities."
For latest updates on the OCO-2 mission, launch status, videos, photos and other media resources, see http://oco.jpl.nasa.gov and http://www.nasa.gov/oco-2/
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