How California Tracks the Air That They Breathe

California has a law that dictates the quality of air, but that needs to be tracked so it can be enforced. Here’s a video about how Berkeley Lab keeps track of the air.

Last March, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory scientist Marc Fischer boarded a small airplane loaded with air monitoring equipment and crisscrossed the skies above Sacramento and the Bay Area.

Instruments aboard the aircraft measured a cocktail of greenhouse gases: carbon dioxide from fossil fuels, methane from livestock and landfills, nitrous oxide from agriculture, and industrially produced gases such as refrigerants.

The flight was part of the Airborne Greenhouse Gas Emissions Survey, a collaboration between Berkeley Lab, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and the University of California, Davis to pinpoint the sources of greenhouse gases in Central California.

The airborne survey is intended to improve inventories of the state’s greenhouse gas emissions, which in turn will help scientists verify the emission reductions mandated by AB-32, the ambitious legislation passed by California in 2006 to slash the state’s greenhouse gas emissions 25 percent by 2020.

“In order to comply with AB-32, we need to know where the gases are coming from and how much,” says Fischer, a scientist in Berkeley Lab’s Environmental Energy Technologies Division.

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