Google Earth tracks US carbon emissions

Carbon watchers can now easily access an at-a-glance picture of emissions in different parts of the USA thanks to a NASA-funded project.

The interactive maps will provide a new feature on Google Earth which will allow users to track emissions over time, by source or by region.

Scientists from Purdue University, Indiana, are behind the scheme which estimates hourly emissions from the burning of almost 50 different fossil fuels around the world.

It takes into account emissions from energy generation, industry, transport and homes.

The data sets were made available to parts of the scientific community in April 2007 but can now be accessed by the general public.

The researchers have named their project Vulcan after the Roman god of fire.

"The release of the Vulcan inventory on Google Earth brings this information into the living room of anyone with an Internet connection," said Purdue's Kevin Gurney, project leader.

"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

"Vulcan could help demystify climate change and empower people in the same way as seeing the miles-per-gallon number on the dashboard of a hybrid car."

The team behind the maps are now working on expanding the coverage to take in emissions from Canada and Mexico.

Those who have already downloaded the Google Earth plugin can view the maps, by clicking here.

Sam Bond



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