Global Carbon Atlas

Overview & Applicability

The Global Carbon Atlas gives audiences a number of ways to visualize carbon dioxide emissions and flux data, and to compare between countries and regions over time (1960 – 2012). Its products are grouped into three main categories that are intended for users with varied technical backgrounds. All products are based on current datasets and models contributed by scientists and research institutions (see Contributors).

  • Outreach offers visual, educational snapshots of carbon dioxide emissions and their relationship to human development in the past, present and future.
  • Emissions offers multiple ways to explore data on carbon emissions. Information is available at the global, regional and national levels with tools that allow comparison and ranking of changes over time (1960 – 2012).
  • Research provides tools to create custom global and regional maps and time series of carbon fluxes from research models and datasets.

Emissions map: Map interface for the Global Carbon Atlas emissions tool, showing total carbon dioxide emissions from each country in 2012.Emissions map: Map interface for the Global Carbon Atlas emissions tool, showing total carbon dioxide emissions from each country in 2012.

History

The Global Carbon Atlas is a community effort under the Global Carbon Project, and is based on the contributions of many research institutions and individual scientists around the world. It was first released in November 2013, and the Global Atlas team plans to release two types of updates. Existing datasets will be updated as new years are added or new data and models are available or improved. In addition, the Global Carbon Atlas will bring new datasets to include other carbon fluxes, carbon stocks and carbon budgets at global and regional scales. Changes in datasets and new improvements in the Global Carbon Atlas will be described in News.

Inputs and Outputs

Input

Inputs include data and models that have been collected from various contributors. A full list of contributors is available at http://www.globalcarbonatlas.org/?q=pcontrib. Contributed inputs have been grouped into four main categories: fossil fuel and land use change emissions, atmospheric inversions (estimates of surface-to-atmosphere net carbon fluxes), land models (terrestrial carbon models), and ocean models.

Output

Outputs are grouped into three main categories that are meant for users with varying levels of technical background.

Outreach – offers educational, interactive snapshots of carbon dioxide emissions in the past, present and future. Users can get a visual picture of when and where emissions have occurred, and an overview of the projected consequences of possible future atmospheric CO2 levels (e.g. sea level rise, ice cover.

Emissions – offers multiple ways to view carbon emissions data. Users can select and compare the country, region, or political grouping (e.g. OECD) of interest; the source of emissions (e.g. fossil fuels, land use change); and the units of carbon emissions (e.g. total megatonnes, tons per person). They can visualize this data in a number of ways, including as a map, chart, country ranking, and other formats at time steps from 1960 – 2012.

Research – lets users create custom global and regional maps and time series of carbon fluxes from datasets and research models. The maps display either ocean or terrestrial flux depending on the specific model(s) chosen. Users have some control in selecting the time period and averaging period of these maps and graphs, and their visual parameters (e.g. colors, legends).

Restrictions and Limitations

  • The Global Carbon Atlas presents general data on carbon emissions and fluxes at the national and global levels. Uses for the tool are therefore intended to be at this large scale. For land managers, the Atlas may be useful for placing forest- and project-level carbon emissions and fluxes within the context of total national or global values. This could help with understanding how forest management actions could contribute as a whole to emitting or sequestering carbon dioxide. Many of the tools could also be used for outreach and education purposes.
  • There are many different inversion, terrestrial and ocean carbon models, ranging from the simple to the complex. The Atlas uses a subset of these, but are other scientifically valid datasets and models that are not represented in these tools.
  • Please keep in mind that carbon emissions are estimated at the national and global level based on available data, and these data may vary in collection method and accuracy from country to country. Before using any of the data, users should carefully evaluate the accuracy, currency, completeness and relevance for their purposes.
  • Emissions data for years 2011-2012 are preliminary.
  • If you use these data, Global Carbon Atlas requires you to cite the original data sources. All of the information needed for the citations can be found on the website under Contributors.

Accessing the tool and additional information

Find the tools at http://globalcarbonatlas.org/

Please be aware that to use the data, you will need to cite the original data sources, which are listed online under Contributors.