By James Paladino ( | First Posted: Oct 09, 2012 10:13 PM EDT

Hestia is currently working on maps for Indianapolis, Indiana, Los Angeles, California, and Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo : Reuters)

Hestia, a greenhouse gas mapping initiative backed by Arizona State University (ASU), sets out to "simulate and visualize the metabolism of greenhouse gas emitting activity down to the building and street level," according to the program's official site

The researchers behind Hestia strive to map each of the major cities in America, providing government officials with a powerful tool to reduce carbon emissions. The program is currently mapping Indianapolis, Indiana, Los Angeles, California, and Phoenix, Arizona.

The Los Angeles Times reports that "computer modeling, traffic conditions, local air pollution reports, tax assessment records and other public data" are used to detail metropolitan areas. The team even has ambitions to "incorporate data from satellites, as well as measurements taken on the ground and by aircraft."

Hestia's mapping system provides a more detailed account of greenhouse gas than past efforts by scientists.

Atmospheric scientist and ASU associate professor Kevin Gurney notes that "cities have had little information with which to guide reductions in greenhouse gas emissions --and you can't reduce what you can't measure."

Gurney adds, "With Hestia, we can provide cities with a complete, three-dimensional picture of where, when and how carbon dioxide emissions are occurring."

The ASU's ambitions are not solely domestic, however. The associate professor states, "These results may also help overcome current barriers to the United States joining an international climate change treaty. Many countries are unwilling to sign a treaty when greenhouse gas emission reductions cannot be independently verified."

Hestia marks a meaningful advancement in collecting data, but it will require the interest of policy makers to take advantage of this innovative tool for it to be of any use.

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