Google Earth now maps U.S. carbon dioxide emissions
A new high-resolution, interactive map of U.S. carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels is now available on Google Earth. The new mapping layer was produced by Project Vulcan, a research initiative led by scientist at Purdue University. Project leader Kevin Gurney hopes that the tool "will bring emissions information into everyone's living room as a recognizable, accessible online experience" (see Purdue news release of February 19, 2009).
The Vulcan layer on Google Earth shows carbon dioxide emissions in metric tons at the state level, county level and per capita. It also breaks down emissions by the different sectors responsible for the emissions, including aircraft, commercial, electricity production, industrial, residential and transport.
While the Vulcan layer currently only shows U.S. fossil fuel-related data from 2002, Project Vulcan reports that "work is underway to complete similar inventories for Canada and Mexico, to include CO and NOx emissions, quantification of all years from 1980 to the present, and incorporate biotic-based fuels." Project Vulcan has been running for 3 years and is primarily funded by NASA and the U.S. Department of Energy.
The project's data was expected to complement data collected by NASA's Orbiting Carbon Observatory, which was to measure levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide from space. However, that $278 million satellite crashed shortly after launch on February 24. It is unclear what effect, if any, the crash will have on the future of Project Vulcan.