Every bit of CO2 we release is one step closer to using up our carbon budget.
Click on the animate button (or use the slider) to see how we have used up our carbon budget to limit global warming to 1.5°C or 2°C.
Climate change is the result of greenhouse gases such as CO2 and methane from human activities. The amount of CO2 and other greenhouse gases in the atmosphere determines how much of the incoming solar radiation is trapped as heat. Since CO2 is the most common greenhouse gas and very long lived in the atmosphere, there’s a good correlation between the total amount of human CO2 emissions and the amount of warming that the earth will experience. This leads to the concept of a carbon budget.
For every ton of CO2 that is emitted into the atmosphere about half a ton becomes part of the atmosphere for the long term, assuming there’s no massive new program to remove CO2 from the atmosphere. And there’s a direct correlation between the atmospheric concentration of CO2 and the earth’s temperature. Scientists tend to look at milestones of 2°C or 1.5°C when thinking about potential future warming. There is some uncertainty, but the total amount of human CO2 emissions that will lead to a 1.5°C warming from pre-industrial levels is around 2200 billion metric tonnes of CO2 plus or minus a few hundred billion tons (or 460 billion metric tonnes from 2020). This unit is also written as GtCO2 or gigatonnes of CO2. The values for the budget for 2°C warming are 1310 GtCO2 from 2020 or 2993 GtCO2 from pre-industrial levels.
Shown below is a graph from the Carbon Brief that shows the uncertainty in estimates for the remaining carbon budget (from 2018) before having a 50% chance of exceeding 1.5°C warming. As you can see there’s a fairly large range.
Update: The article’s author Zeke Hausfather pointed me to an updated article with newer IPCC estimates for the carbon budget of these two warming milestones. I have updated the code to account for these two new values.
1.5°C (2.7°F) doesn’t sound like alot, but there are some pretty serious potential consequences that we’ll be dealing with. These include increasing the amount or frequency of the following:
This NASA article has much more info on the specific issues related to this temperature rise. Ideally we’d keep warming to under 1.5°C but it looks likely that we may exceed 2°C unless we take fairly dramatic action to reduce or CO2 emissions from fossil fuel combustion and use cleaner/lower-carbon sources of energy, like renewables and nuclear power.
From 1750 to 2020, humans have emitted approximately 1683 GtCO2. The IPCC estimates that 460 GtCO2 would put us at 1.5°C warming and 1310 GtCO2 would put us at 2°C warming. These values give us an estimated total carbon budget of 2143 GtCO2 for 1.5°C and 2993 GtCO2 for 2°C warming.
You can really see how we are getting close to using up all of our 1.5°C carbon budget and the speed at which we are using it up, especially in the last few decades.
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This visualization shows the current location of the International Space Station (ISS), actually the point above the Earth that the station is closest to. It is approximately 260 miles (420 km) above the Earth’s surface The station began construction in 1998 and had its first long term residents in 2000.
The visualization can also show the animated future orbital path of the ISS using ephemeris calculations, which makes a nice, cool pattern over an approximately 3.9 day cycle, where it starts to repeat. The animation allows you to view the orbital patterns on the globe (orthographic projection) or a mercator or equirectangular projection.
One of the cooler features is to drag and rotate the globe view while the orbital paths are being drawn. You can also adjust the speed of the orbit as well as keep the ISS centered in your view while the globe spins around underneath it. If you select the “rotate earth” checkbox, it becomes apparent that the ISS is in a circular orbit around the earth and that the pattern being made is simply a function of the earth’s rotation underneath the orbit.
This visualization only shows the approximate location of the ISS as there are several confounding factors that are not represented here. The speed of the ISS changes somewhat over time as the station experiences a small amount of atmospheric drag, which slows the station over time. But it still goes over 7000 meters per second or about 17000 miles per hour. As it slows, its orbit decays so it falls closer to earth and it experiences even more atmospheric drag. Occasionally, the station is boosted up to a higher orbit to counteract this decay. Secondly the earth is not a perfect sphere and this also causes the calculations to be only approximately correct.
Some other cool facts about the International Space Station:
Other cool space-related orbital art can be seen at the inner planet spirographs.
Here are a couple of images showing the final pattern made by the ISS on different map projections.
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I wanted to try my hand at creating 3D elevation models and thought trying to model some of the popular (and some of my favorite) national parks would be a good starting point.
Once a 3D elevation model is selected and shown you can manipulated it in multiple ways:
You can select a number of different parks from the drop down menu. If you have suggestions for additional parks, I may be able to add them to the list.
Note: the elevation files are data intensive since the visualization is downloading the elevation across in some cases, many hundreds or thousands of square miles. To keep the data needs down, I’ve reduced the resolution of the elevation data. Though the original data is 90 meter resolution (elevation is specified across every 90 x 90 m square in each park, I’ve averaged these squares together so that each park model only has about tens of thousands of these squares, regardless of the actual area of the park. This improves data loading and rendering times and makes the improves the responsiveness of the model.
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The code has been updated to allow for multiple chunks of icebergs now, which can occur via melting if you draw an iceberg a certain way.
I was so impressed with the interactive Iceberger tool that Josh Tauberer (@JoshData) made that I had to modify it and add some additional features. Click here to see the original. My additions allow you to conjure up pre-made “icebergs” to see how they float and also allow some interaction. Try “poking” the icebergs you make.
Josh and I were both inspired by a tweet by Megan Thompson-Munson (@GlacialMeg).
Today I channeled my energy into this very unofficial but passionate petition for scientists to start drawing icebergs in their stable orientations. I went to the trouble of painting a stable iceberg with my watercolors, so plz hear me out.
— Megan Thompson-Munson (@GlacialMeg) February 19, 2021
You can choose between 3 different iceberg creation options:
Once the iceberg has been created, you can also affect it in a couple of different ways:
Some Physics – no equations
The force of gravity (G) affects the entire body regardless of where it is or how it is oriented. If you show the forces, the red dot labeled G shows where the center of mass of the iceberg is. The blue dot labeled B shows where the center of buoyancy is. This is the center of mass of the part of the iceberg that is submerged. The force acting on the submerged part is equal to the volume of water displaced. If the center of buoyancy is below the center of gravity, then the forces will be equal and object will be in stable equilibrium. If the center of buoyancy is somewhere other than under the center of gravity, then the buoyant force will be pushing up on a different place than the gravity force and this will induce a rotation until they are directly over one another.
The code has been updated so that multiple icebergs are now allowed. Melting can separate a single piece of iceberg into multiple pieces, just as in real life. The melting process was a bit difficult to program because of the complexity of shapes that could be produced.
If you have additional suggestions for shapes or countries to add to the list or other improvements to make, let me know in the comments. Also if you are using this as a teaching tool, I’d love to hear how you are incorporating it into your curriculum.
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This visualization should be pretty self explanatory. You can select a country or continent and a planet or moon (or the sun) in the solar system. The visualization will then project the land onto the body and you have a simple visual comparison of the size of the country/continent and the planet or moon. You can drag on the visualization to rotate the planet.
There are some combinations that are not possible because the country/continent is too large to be projected onto the body without overlap. In these cases, the planet or country will be greyed out in the selection menu. You can click the “Get URL” button and share a specific map combination (country and planet) by copying the address in the url address bar.
The visualization also displays the area of the country/continent and the surface area of the planet or body. In some cases, the percentage may not look correct but remember that you can only see half of the planet surface and that it’s actually a hemisphere (half a sphere and not just a circle). It becomes clearer if you draw the surface of the planet around.
The calculations to project a country onto another body involves starting with a set of coordinates (made up of longitude and latitude values) which define the border of the country, in the geojson format. To display them on Earth, the coordinates are modified so that the center of the country is centered at the intersection between the equator and prime meridian [0 deg latitude, 0 deg longitude].
To display them projected on a different planet or moon, it is necessary to change the latitude and longitude values of each point of the polygon country border so that it represents the same distance away from the polygon center. I used the Haversine formula to calculate the distance and bearing between two points on a sphere and then used the inverse to find the coordinates that were that distance and bearing from the center point on a sphere of a different size. These formulas can be found here. The main idea is that the distance representing one degree of latitude on Earth will be half as large on a planet that is half the size of Earth (like Mars). Thus, the distance between the center of a country and a point on the border will be a different number of degrees latitude and longitude from the center point on a different planet than on Earth. And this calculatin is done using these formulae.
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The rate of COVID-19 deaths and cases in the US is crazy high after the 2020 winter holidays and maybe still be going up. This visualization shows the number of COVID cases that occur in one hour or the COVID deaths that occur in one day based on the average of the last five days. This is another attempt to show the true scale of how many cases and deaths the US is dealing with, since it is often hard to understand large numbers. I have also attempted to show the scale of US deaths/cases here and here. Unfortunately, there are so many people getting sick and dying, it’s hard to fathom just how many people this actually is.
The 5-day averaging was done to smooth out any peaks and troughs in data reporting due to weekends/holidays, since I noticed that some states were literally reporting zero COVID cases some days while reporting many hundreds or thousands of cases other days.
The dots shown on the animation are located in the state that the cases or deaths occur but are randomly spread out within the state. This is done for visual clarity since if they were shown in their actual location, most of the dots would be overlapping in urban, high density areas. This approach lets you see which states have high COVID instances but still locate them by state.
You can share this animation by putting ?cat=deaths or ?cat=cases behind the url or copying and sharing one of these links:
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