Leveraging UAVs to measure fine-scale urban CO2 flux: a New Haven case study

Mads O'Brien
Justin Farrell
Start Date: 
May, 2019

Existing methods for measuring carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions on small spatial scales are expensive and immobile. Additionally, these methods provide inadequate estimates of CO2 flux from urban areas due to the incredibly heterogeneous land cover types and topography within cities.

I am assisting research scientist Natalie Schultz to develop a novel platform for measuring urban CO2 using a low-cost gas sensor aboard a lightweight UAV (drone). We will design, construct, and test this platform with test-flights in various New Haven locations to collect CO2 data. Once the data are collected, we will use laboratory calibrations and statistical methods to assess the system’s effectiveness and accuracy.

As part of my MESc thesis, I will conduct a systematic comparison of our UAV CO2 flux estimates and those derived from various satellite and ground station sources. I will analyze satellite imagery and other spatial data to examine possible drivers of CO2 flux in New Haven on a micro-meteorological scale.