Articles | Volume 10, issue 1
28 Mar 2018
 | 28 Mar 2018

Vista-LA: Mapping methane-emitting infrastructure in the Los Angeles megacity

Valerie Carranza, Talha Rafiq, Isis Frausto-Vicencio, Francesca M. Hopkins, Kristal R. Verhulst, Preeti Rao, Riley M. Duren, and Charles E. Miller

Abstract. Methane (CH4) is a potent greenhouse gas (GHG) and a critical target of climate mitigation efforts. However, actionable emission reduction efforts are complicated by large uncertainties in the methane budget on relevant scales. Here, we present Vista, a Geographic Information System (GIS)-based approach to map potential methane emissions sources in the South Coast Air Basin (SoCAB) that encompasses Los Angeles, an area with a dense, complex mixture of methane sources. The goal of this work is to provide a database that, together with atmospheric observations, improves methane emissions estimates in urban areas with complex infrastructure. We aggregated methane source location information into three sectors (energy, agriculture, and waste) following the frameworks used by the State of California GHG Inventory and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Guidelines for GHG Reporting. Geospatial modeling was applied to publicly available datasets to precisely geolocate facilities and infrastructure comprising major anthropogenic methane source sectors. The final database, Vista-Los Angeles (Vista-LA), is presented as maps of infrastructure known or expected to emit CH4. Vista-LA contains over 33 000 features concentrated on  <  1 % of land area in the region. Currently, Vista-LA is used as a planning and analysis tool for atmospheric measurement surveys of methane sources, particularly for airborne remote sensing, and methane hotspot detection using regional observations. This study represents a first step towards developing an accurate, spatially resolved methane flux estimate for point sources in SoCAB, with the potential to address discrepancies between bottom–up and top–down methane emissions accounting in this region. The Vista-LA datasets and associated metadata are available from the Oak Ridge National Laboratory Distributed Active Archive Center for Biogeochemical Dynamics (ORNL DAAC;

Short summary
We present a GIS-based approach to mapping methane emissions in areas with dense, complex source mixtures. The Vista-LA database classifies >33 000 potential methane-emitting features concentrated on <1% of the land area in California's South Coast Air Basin. The database is used for planning and analysis of atmospheric measurements, including airborne remote sensing campaigns and on-road mobile surveys focused on methane "hot-spot" detection, and development of a regional emissions inventory.