Biogeochemists Map Out Carbon Dioxide Emissions In The U.


I stumbled across this great mapping system of CO2 emmisions over at Science Daily. Whilst previous estimates of CO2 levels have been calculated per capita in the US, a new map called ‘Vulcan’ created by biogeochemists at Purdue University shows the top local and regional carbon dioxide producers in high resolution.

In the past, CO2 levels have been calculated based on population, putting the Northeast at the top of the list. Now, a new map called Vulcan reveals for the first time where the top carbon dioxide producers are in the country. The answer surprised Kevin Gurney, Ph.D., a biogeochemist at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Ind.

“There are a lot more emissions in the Southeast than we previously thought, and a lot of that is because it’s not necessarily associated with where people live directly, but actually where industry and activities are,” said Dr. Gurney.

The high-resolution map shows 100 times more detail than ever before and zooms in to show greenhouse gas sources right down to factories, power plants and even roadways. An animated version of Vulcan reveals huge amounts of greenhouse gas gets blown toward the North Atlantic region.

“We’ve never had a map with this much detail and accuracy that everyone can view online,” Dr. Gurney said. (Read more @ Science Daily)

The official website (“The Vulcan Project“) has an amazing Google Earth interface, where you can map the emissions from US power producers, residential and commercial CO2 emissions at 100km2 local scale resolution. Perhaps the most interesting contrast is the maps of residential CO2 emissions when comparing Republican vs Democrat districts. Given the difference in population density between the US and Australia, it’d be interesting to see someone scale this effort to a continental scale, allowing regional comparisons and perspectives on global carbon budgets.

1 thought on “Biogeochemists Map Out Carbon Dioxide Emissions In The U.

  1. I just found while looking up your homepage to include you in my list of most highly cited authors on climate science. I’ve come pretty late to your name – you were on the ESI Highly Cited list done in 2006, but I’d only gone through their earlier 2001 list.

    Anyway, cool site; I’ll be sure to link to it from my page.

    I think the CO2 PPM ‘doomsday clock’ widget is neat; however, I suspect the 393+ ppm could be a bit high; are you including a way to track the seasonal drop as the N.hem. “breathes in” each year? Also, the number of digits does give that rapid flickering effect, but some might object to this as false precision (down to units of .01 ppTrillion?).


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