February 25, 2009 By Elaine Rundle
Have you ever wanted to know how much carbon dioxide your state or city emits? Vulcan -- a new layer for Google Earth -- is a high-resolution, interactive map of carbon dioxide emissions in the United States.
Purdue University led a team of scientists who developed Vulcan, which allows users to view carbon dioxide emissions at the state level, county level or per capita. According to a press release from the university, it also allows users to view the carbon-dioxide emissions by the emitter, such as industrial, commercial, residential and electricity production. Vulcan quantifies burning fossil fuels, such as coal and gasoline, to create the map layer.
The project involved researchers from Purdue University, Colorado State University and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, and took three years to develop. Vulcan was funded by NASA and the U.S. Department of Energy.
According to the press release: "Vulcan integrates data including imagery of the Earth's surface captured by the NASA-built Landsat 5 satellite, 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."
The current information displayed on the map is from 2002, but the researchers will expand the information to include more recent years. Their goal is to add carbon-dioxide information from 1985 to present and then update it every six months.
Purdue University posted a simulation of Vulcan on YouTube that shows how the map layer works.