From: Dani Thé, ENN
Published October 10, 2012 09:29 AM

Urban Cities' Greenhouse Gasses are Mapped

Researchers at Arizona State University (ASU) and Purdue University have announced their new software system which enables the three-dimensional visualization of greenhouse gas emissions throughout urban landscapes. It notes where, when, and how carbon emissions are occurring. The software, named "Hestia" after the greek goddess of the home, is also capable of showing the hourly dynamics of CO2 emissions across street segments, down to individual buildings.

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Thus far, Hestia has been applied to the city of Indianapolis, and the team is working on rolling out for the cities of Phoenix and Los Angeles. The goal is to map out greenhouse emissions across the most populated cities in the United States. This in itself would account for almost a quarter of all CO2 emissions in the world.

The hope is that such a software could guide city wide reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. "Hestia offers practical information we can use to identify the most cost effective way to reduce emissions and track progress over time" notes Kevin Gurney, the Senior Scientist with the Global Institute of Sustainability and an Associate Professor at ASU’s School of Life Sciences.

President of ASU, Michael Crow states, "this research, and its implications for global engagement regarding climate change, is an exciting step forward. Hestia gives us the next tool we need to help policy makers create effective greenhouse gas legislation".

A combination of data-mining from public databases (such as local air pollution reports, traffic counts, and tax assessor parcel information) with traffic simulation and building-by-building energy consumption modeling, is what comprises of the Hestia software operations. Its high resolution maps identify sources of greenhouse gas emissions in a way that environmental regulators can utilize.

Purdue Showalter Trust, Knaf Insulation and the National Institute for Standards and Technology, have funded the three-year Hestia project. Researchers from Purdue University’s Department of Computer Graphics and Technology were also involved in the process. Hestia will now take part in a larger effort that will integrate ground emissions data with satellite measurements of CO2 atmospheric concentrations.

Hestia also joins an industry of other emissions modeling systems that offer emissions visualization and reporting to a variety of environmental stakeholders. Lakes Environmental Software is one of these established companies that has enabled emissions reporting, real-time greenhouse gas emissions flow and three dimensional emissions visualization for the industrial sector. These forms of software visualization, databasing, and reporting systems could very well make up the future of air quality planning.

City earth with clouds image via Shutterstock

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