Researchers have developed a new method for mapping global carbon emissions for individual cities on an hourly basis — a major improvement over previous techniques, which quantified greenhouse emissions less accurately and at coarser scales, according to researchers at Arizona State University.

The maps are derived from worldwide databases of population, power plants, and national fuel use statistics, and they encompass 15 years of data. Among other findings, the analysis revealed increased emissions in China, India, Europe, and the northern U.S. in 2010, after the peak of the global financial crisis.

Annual fossil fuel emissions for two years on either side of the global financial crisis. The top map is the year 2006; bottom map is 2010. Red and orange indicate above average emissions, and green indicates below average emissions. (Map credit: Gurney lab, ASU)

The researchers say this reflects faster recoveries from the crisis in those regions compared to, for example, the southeastern U.S., where emissions lagged in 2010.

The results of the analysis match ground-level emissions measurements, confirming the accuracy of the maps, the researchers say. They hope the research can be used to help craft — and enforce — future emissions policies.


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