The DIYSCO2 Project: A mobile sensor network to map CO2 emissions in urban environments

Team:             Joey Lee, Dr. Andreas Christen, Zoran Nesic (Research Engineer), Rick Ketler (Senior Technician)
Advisory Committee:             Prof. Ron Kellett, Dr. Les Lavkulich Funding & Support:             NSERC CREATE TerreWEB Program, UBC Geography, Mozilla Science Lab, Moovel Lab Scientific Paper: Atmospheric Measurement Techniques


In the fall of September 2013, I started my master’s at the Department of Geography at the University of British Columbia (UBC) in Vancouver, BC. Under the supervision of Dr. Andreas Christen and Prof. Ron Kellett, I developed a mobile sensor system to map CO2 emissions in cities.

Currently (2016-10) there are no methods to measure and map CO2 emissions at the micro scale (0 - 100m) across entire urban areas. There are plenty of models that use data on building energy use, traffic counts, etc to estimate emissions from the building to the city scale, but they: a. rely heavily on input data that isn’t readily available to researchers and governments and b. cannot be validated with physical measurements across an entire urban area. On the other hand, stationary sensor systems do exist that can measure emissions, but they can only measure the emissions within their “source area” and are extremely cost and labor intensive. While satellite-based emissions sensors are now orbiting the earth providing emissions data at around 2 km2 resolution, these systems have low temporal resolution and also need to be validated.

My master’s thesis, ‘A Mobile Sensor Network to Map CO2Emissions in Urban Environments’ is about exploring the potential of urban mobility as a platform for mapping CO2 at the micro-scale in cities. Inspired by the changing landscape of opensource micro-technologies (e.g. Arduino) and in anticipation of