‘Revolutionary’ CO2 maps zoom in on greenhouse gas sources

We’ll also be showing those emissions transported through the atmosphere using an atmospheric transport model. Many people have contributed to the Vulcan Project, including researchers at Purdue University, Colorado State University, and Lawrence Berkeley National Labs. We would also like to thank our sponsors for this work, NASA and the Department of Energy. The first image you see in this video is one sector of fossil fuel CO2 emissions in the United States, that being emissions from power plants. The next image are industrial sources of carbon dioxide emissions in the United States. The third image are the mobile sources of carbon dioxide in the United States placed directly onto US roadways. We can take these inventories and combine them with our other inventories, including residential and commercial, and create a total map of fossil fuel CO2 emissions in the United States. This has been placed onto a ten-kilometer regular grid in order to facilitate atmospheric transport modeling.

The next sequence is a video showing transport of those fossil fuels CO2 emissions into the air over the United States. This is the lowest layer of air in the RAMS atmospheric transport model. It is in units of parts per million or mixing ratio relative to the initial conditions in this model. A few items to note are the day and night cycle, with larger emissions of fossil fuel CO2 during the day, smaller emissions during the night. Also noticeable are the spatial patterns across the United States, including population centers on the West Coast, East Coast, Gulf industrial and manufacturing sectors, manufacturing and industry in the Midwest and upper Midwest, and population centers along the front range of Colorado and the Salt Lake City area in Utah.

Transport features to note, of course, are the broad west to east transport and filaments of CO2 moving off the continental United States over the North Atlantic. The next sequence is a sequence that shows the contrast between morning CO2 concentrations and evening CO2 concentrations, with greater concentrations in the morning both due to the initiation of fossil fuel CO2 emissions and the trapping of CO2 due to reduced boundary layer heights in the early morning hours. The next video sequence represents a three-dimensional view of CO2 concentration over the United States. This shows an isosurface of CO2 roughly two PPM above the initial conditions. Again, you see the broad spatial patterns, the diurnal cycle, and then a number of additional features that can be seen with the 3D representation. Most importantly are the elevated CO2-enriched air merging from the surface through the boundary layer, probably due to strong thunderstorm and vertical convective activity. You see frontal systems, as represented by large, wedge-shaped features over the middle United States.

You also notice, again, the broad transport of CO2-enriched air moving from the continental United States over the North Atlantic. And finally, you notice transport off of the West Coast, southern West Coast United States out over tropical Pacific and Mexico. The next video sequence shows vertical profiles of CO2 over two cities in the United States, Los Angeles and Chicago. Each one of these lines represents a single grid cell over the urban landscape in each of those cities. By taking all of the grid cells in an urban area, you can create a series of vertical profiles, and that’s what’s shown in each one of these images. The motion, of course again, is due to the diurnal cycle from day and night, and of course, the spread of concentrations near the surface represents the gradient, or spatial difference, from the center of the city, for example, out towards the edge where concentrations are less. Both cities, of course, show a broad decline in CO2 concentration as you move away from the surface, both because of sources being at the surface and the impact of atmospheric transport on mixing those concentrations through the larger atmosphere.

Thank you for watching this video of the Vulcan Project. If you have questions or comments, please contact Kevin Gurney at kgurney@purdue.edu..