The Megacities Carbon Project aims to monitor the greenhouse gas emissions of "the largest human contributors to climate change: megacities." They are starting with Los Angeles and Paris. The effort here involves JPL, Caltech, Scripps and sensors already in place and working on Mount Wilson, at Caltech, in Palos Verdes and on the Scripps Pier in La Jolla, among other locations. From a story at Atlantic Cities set on Mount Wilson:
Scientists from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., and elsewhere are turning the entire Los Angeles metro region into a state-of-the-art climate laboratory. From the ridgeline, they deploy a mechanical lung that senses airborne chemicals and a unique sunbeam analyzer that scans the skies over the Los Angeles Basin. At a sister site at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech), researchers slice the clouds with a shimmering green laser, trap air samples in glass flasks, and stare at the sun with a massive mirrored contraption that looks like God’s own microscope.
These folks are the foot soldiers in an ambitious, interagency initiative called the Megacities Carbon Project. They’ve been probing L.A.’s airspace for more than a year, with the help of big-name sponsors like the National Institute of Standards and Technology, the Keck Institute for Space Studies, and the California Air Resources Board. If all goes well, by 2015 the Megacities crew and colleagues working on smaller cities such as Indianapolis and Boston will have pinned down a slippery piece of climate science: an empirical measurement of a city’s carbon footprint.
If that doesn’t sound like something Einstein would scarf down energy bars and hoof up a mountain to check out, give it time. It promises to be a groundbreaking development in the worldwide fight against global warming.
Here is the project website at JPL.
Photo of Los Angeles basin from the California Laboratory for Atmospheric Remote Sensing station on Mt. Wilson: John Metcalfe/Atlantic Cities