Interactive maps that detail carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuel combustion are now available on the popular Google Earth platform. The maps, funded by NASA and the U.S. Department of Energy through the joint North American Carbon Program, can display fossil fuel emissions by the hour, geographic region, and fuel type.
A science team led by researchers at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Ind., integrated seven primary data sets, including imagery of Earth's surface captured by the NASA-built Landsat 5 satellite, fossil-fuel carbon dioxide emissions data from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Department of Energy, and population data from the U.S. Census Bureau.
Researchers from the project, named "Vulcan" for the Roman god of fire, constructed an unprecedented inventory of the carbon dioxide that results from the burning of 48 different types of fossil fuel. The data-based maps show estimates of the hourly carbon dioxide outputs of factories, power plants, vehicle traffic and residential and commercial areas.
First released to the scientific community in April 2007, the emissions data have now been integrated into an image-based format that has become a standard online viewing tool for content that spans broad geographic areas.
"The release of the Vulcan inventory on Google Earth brings this information into the living room of anyone with an Internet connection," said Kevin Gurney, an assistant professor of Earth and atmospheric sciences at Purdue and leader of the Vulcan Project. "From a societal perspective, Vulcan provides a description of where and when society influences climate change through fossil-fuel carbon dioxide emissions."
"Users can see their county or state in relation to others, and see what aspects of economic activity are driving fossil-fuel emissions," Gurney added. "Vulcan could help demystify climate change and empower people in the same way as seeing the miles-pe
|Contact: Sarah DeWitt|
NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center