From Pole-to-Pole Flights to Megacity Observatories

posted on September 27, 2012 by

Eric Kort (’04),   JPL –  NASA

Thursday, September 27, 2012 at 4:30 pm in Millikan Laboratory – Room 134 (Refreshments at 4:15 pm)

Abstract: Human activities have significantly perturbed our planet’s atmospheric  composition, with major consequences for our present and future Climate.  In particular, higher levels of long-lived greenhouse gases such as CO2, CH4, and N2O are playing a driving role in the climate change occurring today.  To better understand both the present climate and possible future climate scenarios, it is critical to observe atmospheric concentrations and distributions of these gases and improve our knowledge of current human and natural emissions levels.  In this talk, I will first discuss observation made from an aircraft travelling from pole-to-pole and focus on some surprises we found in the Arctic.  Moving from the global to urban scale, I’ll then focus on carbon emissions from cities, which presently represent the single largest human contribution to climate change.  Despite the large contribution of urban areas to the total greenhouse gas emission rate, there presently exists no method for robustly quantifying emissions changes, be they growth or reduction.  I’ll discuss the Megacity Carbon pilot project, which aims to develop and demonstrate an observing system that will be able to monitor megacity carbon emissions.  This entails both earth- & space-based observations, including the expansion of an observing network in the Los Angeles basin, with a potential site situated at Pomona College.