For decades, scientists have been able to measure air quality and look at its impact on human health. Now, scientists are testing new ways of measuring those climate-changing greenhouse gases in the air in Los Angeles, which is one of the places that is participating in a new effort called the Megacities Carbon Project.
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“That haze is caused by the fact that the air is trapped inside a layer that’s a few hundred meters to a thousand meters in altitude above the L.A. basin. So it collects those emissions from the cars and other sources and forms that layer,” said Sander.
Affecting global climate
Jet Propulsion Lab scientist Riley Duren said these pollutants include greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide and methane, and they do not just hang over the city.
“So these gases have a small local effect, but the bigger impact is on the climate. We’re all in this together. It takes several weeks or months for these gases to mix, but they end up in the atmosphere and they affect everywhere - not just in the local city,” said Duren.
Los Angeles is part of a complicated experiment called the Megacities Carbon Project. The goal is to monitor greenhouse gases and look for long-term trends to see if environmental policies to lower these pollutants actually will work.
Sixteen highly sensitive monitoring devices are being installed throughout southern California on rooftops and media towers.Fast
Scientists also use what is called “remote sensing” to monitor the air. Instruments placed on airplanes and a satellite look at sunlight bouncing off the surface of the earth. By examining how the air changes the quality of that light, scientists can “see” the fingerprints of carbon dioxide and methane in the air.
There is one more remote sensing instrument on top of historic Mt. Wilson northeast of Los Angeles.Talking about the
“What we’re hoping to do here on Mt. Wilson is create a sort of pattern or model for the way other cities might be able to measure their greenhouse gas emissions in a very similar way,When you think of
Duren said developed countries are trying to reduce emissions, though developing nations face challenging circumstances. “In the developing world,
He said many of these growing cities are at higher risk for the impact of climate change.