A map released by NASA Monday shows that Los Angeles’ highest levels of carbon dioxide pollution are west of downtown Los Angeles, where the city has congested freeways and industries that emit carbon dioxide.
The map, which uses data from NASA’s Orbiting Carbon Observatory 3 instrument on the International Space Station, is one of the most accurate maps ever created from space to show carbon dioxide abundance in the city, according to the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. It depicts concentrations of carbon dioxide over a 50-square-mile area of the Los Angeles metropolitan area.
West of downtown Los Angeles, which is coded in yellow on the map, has atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide elevated by five or more molecules out of every million molecules of air, according to JPL.
While ground level data gives researchers critical local measurements, satellite data is able to cover a wider area and measure carbon dioxide throughout the depth of the atmosphere.
JPL said it hopes the data will help law makers choose the best policies to reach its goals for cutting carbon emissions and to measure the effectiveness of those policies.
The Orbiting Carbon Observatory 3 instrument, which consists of a telescope and three spectrometers, circles early at the latitudes of London and Patagonia, but almost every city comes within its view about once every three days. JPL schedules measurements for 40 locations a day, most of which emit high levels of carbon dioxide.
People can view the map at go.nasa.gov/3itFrfd.