Changes in Traffic Patterns and Localized Air Quality in Southern California

Research Team: Shams Tanvir (lead), Matthew Barth, Barry Wallerstein, Cesunica Ivey, and Kanok Boriboonsomsin

UC Campus(es): 

Additional Research Partners: UC Riverside

Problem Statement: Southern California region has among the worst congestion and air quality problems in the United States. The COVID-19 pandemic has caused a significant reduction in economic and social activities locally and consequent changes in roadway traffic. These changes are impacting mobility, air pollution levels, and the environment in a variety of ways. To date, preliminary data have shown that traffic is down approximately 45%. However, it is likely that traffic activity, and resulting impacts, are different in different locations. The COVID-19 crisis provides a real-world opportunity in Southern California to observe the changes in road traffic and develop correlations with various mitigation measures, observing effects at both the local and regional level. It is important to go beyond just a regional analysis (e.g., all of Southern California) and analyze these effects at the local and transportation corridor level to assist in addressing equity issues, including impacts in disadvantaged communities.

Project Description: This project will develop an integrated analytical framework to determine changes in traffic at various scales (local, corridor level, and regional) due to the COVID-19 sheltering-in-place orders measures and conduct an analysis of the relationship of traffic-related changes to critical air pollutant concentrations. Traffic data and air quality data will be used from various existing sources, along with satellite-based measurements to complement the land-based measurements. The research team will estimate spatial-temporal changes in emissions for several traffic-related pollutants (e.g., NOX, CO, CO2, and HC). The team will then conduct a map-based relationship analysis between localized air-quality monitoring data and the estimated emissions. Finally, the team will overlay the map on CalEnviroScreen maps and correlate the changes with geographic locations of disadvantaged communities.

Status: In Progress

Budget: $79,000