WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - A new, high-resolution, interactive map of U.S. carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels has found that the emissions aren't all where we thought.
"For example, we've been attributing too many emissions to the northeastern United States, and it's looking like the southeastern U.S. is a much larger source than we had estimated previously," says Kevin Gurney, an assistant professor of earth and atmospheric science at Purdue University and leader of the project.
The maps and system, called Vulcan, show CO2 emissions at more than 100 times more detail than was available before. Until now, data on carbon dioxide emissions were reported, in the best cases, monthly at the level of an entire state. The Vulcan model examines CO2 emissions at local levels on an hourly basis.
Researchers say the maps also are more accurate than previous data because they are based on greenhouse gas emissions instead of estimates based on population in areas of the United States.
To create the Vulcan maps, the research team developed a method to extract the CO2 information by transforming data on local air pollution, such as carbon monoxide and nitrous oxide emissions, which are tracked by the Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Department of Energy and other governmental agencies.
"These pollutants are important to determine the ozone levels and air quality in major cities, and they are tracked on an hourly basis," Gurney says. "We've been able to leverage that data to determine the levels of CO2 being produced."
Carbon dioxide is the most important human-produced gas contributing to global climate change. The United States accounts for about 25 percent of global CO2 emissions.
The increased detail and accuracy of Vulcan will help lawmakers create policies to reduce CO2 emissions while also increasing scientists' understa
|Contact: Steve Tally|