Tuesday, December 8, 2009

USDA/NSF grant helps researchers develop city carbon budget including UTC goal; Boston, MA

Sizing Up Carbon Emissions BU Today:
Calculating your carbon footprint online involves nothing more than a couple of mouse clicks. Measuring the carbon footprint of a city? That takes more detective work.
Boston University researchers are on the case. Nathan Phillips, a College of Arts & Sciences associate professor of geography and environment and director of the Center for Energy and Environmental Studies, and his colleagues received a $300,000 grant in September from the National Science Foundation and the U.S. Forest Service to study the flow of carbon in and out of Boston. Beyond learning how to quantify and predict carbon levels, they want to inform policy decisions on carbon emissions and urban sustainability.One goal is to create a high-resolution map of Boston. Red spots would indicate carbon emission zones, Phillips explains, and green spots would reveal carbon uptake zones. Color intensity might show ongoing carbon hot spots. The graphic could predict how human activity or policy changes affect carbon concentrations.

Boston officials have pledged to reduce carbon emissions to 7 percent below 1990 levels by 2012 and to increase tree canopy cover from 29 percent to 35 percent by 2030; trees reduce carbon and add oxygen. BU-led research could define where best to focus to achieve those goals and could measure success.

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