There’s much room, and opportunity, for improvement when it comes to our ability to timely and accurately measure carbon dioxide (CO2) and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Global CO2 emissions continued to rise in 2011, as did the costs of adapting to a more rapidly changing climate.
It makes good sense to test new means and methods of measuring CO2 emissions in cities and metropolitan areas: they account for an estimated 70% of human GHG emissions globally. And that’s just what EADS Astrium and a consortium of scientific organization intends to do during the 2012 Summer Olympics in London.
Using a combination of new stationary, mobile and airborne CO2 measurement instruments, EADS Astrium will carry out a pilot test of its London Greenhouse Gas Emissions Measurement Service (EMS), the aim of which is to measure GHG emissions during the London Olympics “on a city-scale and in real-time.”
Cavity-Ring Down Spectroscopy: Improving Carbon Emissions Measurements
Leading edge GHG emissions technology provider Picarro on July 19 announced that EDS Astrium has chosen to exclusively use Picarro’s cavity ring-down spectroscopy (CRDS) equipment in carrying out the EMS pilot test. Picarro’s CRDS instruments have been installed at four locations around London, on a bus that will measure GHG concentrations at road level, and aboard a plane to take measure GHG concentrations at higher altitudes.
“Our City Carbon project during the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in Davos, Switzerland proved to be an eye-opening experience because it revealed the wide discrepancies that can exist between emissions assumptions and actual emissions measurements. This made us all the more eager to deploy our instruments in one of the world’s largest cities to measure near real-time, per capita emissions during the world’s largest sporting event,” Picarro CEO Michael Woelk commented.
“We’re now delighted to participate in Astrium’s consortium and demonstrate once again that our technology can be used to measure urban-scale GHG emissions, and encourage major cities to start measuring rather than self-tabulating their progress towards emission reduction goals.”
Measuring Carbon Emissions: A Growing, More Urgent Need
CO2 emissions, the main driver of the Greenhouse Gas Effect, rose 3% in 2011, reaching another record-high of 34 billion metric tons, according to Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency (PBL) and the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre’s (JRC) annual “Trends in Global CO2 Emissions” report for 2012. Boding particularly ill for the near future, rapid and fossil fuel-powered industrialization in China has caused CO2 emissions there to come within a 6-19 metric ton per capita range of the major industrialized countries.
Looking to provide policy makers and a broader swathe of stakeholders data and analysis for much more informed decision-making, a host of leading scientific research organizations, along with Picarro, are participating in EADS Astrium’s EMS pilot. Included are France’s Laboratoire des Sciences du Climat et de l’Environnement (LSCE), the UK’s National Centre for Earth Observation, and the UK’s National Physical Laboratory (NPL) Centre for Carbon Measurement and Earth Networks.
Aiming to determine CO2 equivalent emissions and identify their sources at a national level, EADS Astrium’s EMS, in addition to CO2, has been designed to analyze atmospheric concentrations of carbon monoxide (CO) and methane (CH4).
“The EMS project in London reflects a growing need among the world’s megacities to take actions to reduce GHG emissions. Over half of the world’s population lives in urban centers, which comprise less than two percent of the Earth’s landmass; yet cities are responsible for more than 70 percent of global GHG emissions,” Picarro noted in its press release.
Carbon Emissions: More Accurate, Real-time Views
Most recently, Picarro’s City Carbon project in Davos measured carbon emissions before, during, and after the 2012 World Economic Forum’s Annual Meeting. Similarly, its CRDS technology “can be leveraged in London to compare measured GHG emissions to baseline inventories, and further encourage civic leaders that have set emission reduction goals yet lack precise, objective measurements to credibly evaluate their progress,” the company states.
The public will be able to climb aboard EADS Astrium GHG EMS bus and get a first-person look at how the data is collected and processed. Visitors to EADS Astrium’s GHG EMS website will be able to see GHG emission levels as measured by the system’s four stationary Picarro CRDS sensors, as well as how they varied over the previous 24 hours.
Also available on the website will be demonstrations of the system’s Global Service, which shows how GHG fluxes and concentrations vary over time; its National Service, which shows how GHG EMS measurements improves on the accuracy of existing GHG emissions inventories; and its City Service, which shows how GHG emissions concentrations vary over time at different locations.
I've been reporting and writing on a wide range of topics at the nexus of economics, technology, ecology/environment and society for some five years now. Whether in Asia-Pacific, Europe, the Americas, Africa or the Middle East, issues related to these broad topical areas pose tremendous opportunities, as well as challenges, and define the quality of our lives, as well as our relationship to the natural environment.