America’s Carbon Footprint

Apr 8, 2008 1:02pm

Take a look at the map included in this post.  The Vulcan Project, a team at Purdue University, has plotted where in America carbon dioxide emissions are the greatest. At first glance, the map looks very pretty — and very predictable.  But it isn’t.  Darker colors — the greens, reds and browns — correspond to higher concentrations of CO2, and they appear to be darkest where the population density is greatest. (Note how cities come out dark, including the entire northeast corridor from Boston to New York to Washington.)  But the scientists, who say they’ve worked to figure out where carbon amounts are raised or lowered by the presence of natural "sinks," such as forests and water, that absorb carbon dioxide, say they got some surprises when they plotted this high-res map.  See how much beige you find in the southeast, and in Midwestern states such as Indiana and Ohio?  That, they say, is best explained by coal-fired power plants and cement plants.  There’s a lot more information HERE, and from the U.S. Carbon Cycle Science Program HERE. You can click on the map, or HERE, to enlarge.  There’s a video as well, HERE. The Vulcan Project, which gets funding from NASA and the Department of Energy, will be succeeded by one called Hestia, which will try to plot carbon dioxide emissions for the whole planet. It will get help from a new satellite, the Orbital Carbon Observatory. The data for the map above dates from 2002.  How precise is it?  Take a look at the green line crossing northern Nevada.  That turns out to be Interstate 80, wending its way from San Francisco to New York, heavy on truck traffic in an otherwise very open part of the country.

You are using an outdated version of Internet Explorer. Please click here to upgrade your browser in order to comment.
blog comments powered by Disqus