Spatial patterns and determinants of winter atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations in an urban environment

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34 Scopus citations


The purpose of this article is to describe determinants and spatial patterns of atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) in Phoenix, Arizona. Specifically, we use geographic information systems (GIS) and regression-based analyses to identify the human and biological factors that contribute to spatial and temporal variations in near-surface (2-meter height) atmospheric CO 2 levels. We use these factors to create estimated surfaces of CO2 concentrations for the area. We evaluate the surfaces using records of CO2 from independent monitoring stations and transects. To investigate the temporal patterns and variations in CO2 concentrations, we estimate CO2 surfaces for the early mornings and the afternoons, on weekdays when traffic is heavy and spatially focused and on weekends when it is lighter and more spatially dispersed. Findings suggest there is a distinct relationship between the structure of Phoenix CO2 levels and spatial patterns of human activities and vegetation densities. Morning CO2 levels are higher than afternoon levels and correspond closely to the density of traffic, population, and employment. The spatial structure of human activity explains the pattern of CO2 better on weekdays than on weekends. CO2 surfaces reflect declining densities of human activity with distance from the city center, the pattern of irrigated agriculture in the Phoenix area, and riparian habitats on the urban fringe. Spatial and temporal patterns of CO2 concentrations are useful in understanding urban climate and ecosystem processes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)15-28
Number of pages14
JournalAnnals of the Association of American Geographers
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2002


  • Carbon dioxide
  • Geographic information systems (GIS)
  • Regression-based mapping
  • Urban climatology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Earth-Surface Processes


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