AIMS Geosciences, 2017, 3(2): 239-267. doi: 10.3934/geosci.2017.2.239

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Spatio-temporal Variations in on-road CO2 Emissions in the Los Angeles Megacity

1 Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, 4800 Oak Grove Drive, Pasadena, California 91109
2 School of Natural Resources and Environment, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan 48109
3 School of Life Sciences, Global Institute of Sustainability, Arizona State University, Tempe, Arizona 85287

We quantify hourly on-road fossil fuel carbon dioxide (FFCO2) emissions at the road segment level for the Los Angeles (LA) megacity based on observed traffic data, and characterize emission patterns across space and time. This on-road FFCO2 emissions dataset for LA (from Hestia version 1.0), based on actual traffic volume, provides emissions per vehicle kilometer travelled (VKT)—an important metric for greenhouse gas (GHG) reductions. We further identify emissions hotpots that can help state and local policy makers plan the most effective GHG reduction strategies. On-road vehicle traffic accounts for half of the FFCO2 emissions in LA, of which 41% is from arterials (intermediate road type). Arterials also have the largest C emissions intensity—FFCO2 per VKT—possibly from high traffic congestion and fleet composition. Non-interstate emissions hotspots (> 419 tC lane-km-1) are equally dominated by arterials and collectors (the lowest road type) in terms of FFCO2 emissions though collectors have a higher VKT. These hotspots occur in densely populated areas and developed landuse classes, largely in LA (67%) and Orange (18%) counties, and provide specific targets for emissions reduction efforts. The estimated uncertainties for interstate, arterial and collector emissions per road length are ± 2.1, ± 0.5 and ± 18.0%, respectively. Our overall estimates compare reasonably well with other products, DARTE and FIVE but with substantial differences in spatial distribution. The method for developing this dataset is easily replicable in other urban landscapes, and represents a powerful tool for carbon cycle science and regional policy makers.
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