Penn State students hit the road to investigate greenhouse gas emissions

Penn State meteorology and atmospheric science students recently appeared before local government officials to present findings from a class study of greenhouse gas leaks around the State College area.

LaTroy Thornton Davis Class Findings

La'Troy Thornton pictured above, is one of the students presenting the findings to the State College Borough sustainability committee.

Matthew Carroll, May 30, 2019
penn state news logo

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Penn State student Colton Milcarek recently loaded a suitcase-sized instrument into a car and set out across State College to sniff out potential greenhouse gas leaks.

Thanks to this portable new technology, Milcarek and a team of other meteorology and atmospheric science students were able to measure carbon dioxide and methane levels from a moving vehicle while driving past urban development, agricultural fields and steam power plants around town.

“We wanted to see how leaky the State College area is and find where there are spikes in greenhouse gases,” said Robert Johnson, another student who participated in the project. “Increasing levels of carbon dioxide and methane warm the planet, so these are big indicators about what’s happening in terms of climate change.”

The students monitored greenhouse emissions around the State College region on eight trips during the spring semester as part of a class offered by the Department of Meteorology and Atmospheric Science. They found four locations with persistently elevated methane levels indicative of persistent sources but no very high concentrations.

Read more:

Penn State students hit the road to investigate greenhouse gas emissions