Urban Composition & Chemistry of New York City

We are currently measuring carbon dioxide, methane and carbon monoxide at sites around New York City, including the CUNY NGENS Observatory in Harlem. We are also quantifying biogenic carbon fluxes at sites New York City

Constraining anthropogenic carbon emissions

Carbon dioxide (CO2) is the dominant carbon emission from man-made sources in urban areas, where it is emitted from combustion sources such as vehicles, power plants, generators, concrete plants, etc. CO2 is also is taken up by trees and respired from soils in the city. After CO2, methane (CH4) is the second most abundant greenhouse gas, with a global warming potential of over 25 times that of CO2 over 100 years. Urban sources of methane include leaks from natural gas lines, and emissions from landfills and waste water treatment plants and sewers. 

In 2015, New York State committed to 40% reductions in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 relative to 1990 in its Reforming the Energy Vision (REV) goals, which targets methane reductions from in-state sources for their relatively rapid climate response and co-benefits on surface air quality. In June 2019, the New York State legislature signed one of the most progressive climate bills in the US, the New York State Climate and Community Protection Act, to address and mitigate the impacts of climate change in New York. This bill also requires 50% of energy for New York to be from renewable sources by 2030. 





Recent Publications

Our work focuses on measuring carbon dioxide and methane and understanding their sources in urban environments and how greenhouse gas emissions are tied to urban air quality. The change in atmospheric concentrations during the COVID lockdown in 2020 was quite large and we are working to quantify how much is a reduction in emissions vs good weather conditions and what was driving the change. Some recent publications include:

  • Commane, R. and Schiferl, L, Climate mitigation policies for cities must consider air quality impacts. Chem, 8, 1-14, 2022.

  • Tzortziou, M., Kwong, C. F., Goldberg, D., Schiferl, L., Commane, R., Abuhassan, N., Szykman, J., and Valin, L.: Declines and peaks in NO2 pollution during the multiple waves of the COVID-19 pandemic in the New York metropolitan area, Atmos. Chem. Phys., 22, 2399–2417, https://doi.org/10.5194/acp-22-2399-2022, 2022.


Ongoing Research 

As part of a NOAA award, we will be "Quantifying the impact of biogenic and anthropogenic fluxes on the atmospheric composition of the New York City Metro Area" with John Mak at Stony Brook University and Andrew Reinmann, City University of New York. Our New York centric project will be further developing our CO2 measurement network and measuring isoprene and ozone precursors and will be completing a series of summer intensives over the next few summers. 

We are working with Lee Murray, University of Rochester (PI) and Eric M. Leibensperger, SUNY Plattsburgh, to make continuous measurements of methane and carbon dioxide at air-quality monitoring sites in New York State on a project funded by the New York State Energy Research and Development Agency (NYSERDA). This project aims to constrain regional upwind emissions of methane arriving into New York from neighboring states and examine the downwind impacts of those emissions on air quality and climate.

We also worked with John Mak at Stony Brook University as part of the LISTOS project flights in summer 2019 to measure CO2 and CH4 profiles. LISTOS is the Long-island Sound Tropospheric Ozone Study funded by NYSERDA and NESCAUM (Northeast States for Coordinated Air Use Management). 

We received funding from the Columbia University Lenfest Junior Faculty Development award to develop sensors to run on the Columbia University Transportation Electric Shuttles. Over summer 2019, our high school engineering team members lead the initial development with Nick Frearson as part of the  summer research program. 

High School Engineering Team

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