Skip to Main Content
The problem of human-induced climate change has emerged as one of the grand challenges facing humanity. Advances in scientific understanding in the past 20 years have confirmed the fact of climate change and its likely acceleration, driven primarily by rising carbon dioxide (CO2) levels mostly from fossil-fuel combustion. We must reduce CO2 emissions to stabilize greenhouse gases and avoid further interference with the climate system. However, we currently have limited understanding of CO2 emissions at space- time scales that are meaningful for carbon-cycle science, climate-change research, decision making, mitigation, public understanding, industrial management, and carbon trading.1 Given the profound nature of the climate-change problem and the significant trading and infrastructural changes implied by national and international legislation, this limited understanding could cripple the advance of scientific understanding, optimal policy, corporate action, and public engagement. Visualization of the complex space-time dimensions of fossil-fuel emissions is a powerful means for exploring and understanding this dominant climate-change driver. We've developed a visualization system to help explore and understand CO2 emission data collected by the US Vulcan Project, a government-funded project to quantify North American fossil-fuel CO2 emissions at much finer space and time scales than have been achieved in the past.