Introduction You can use the Black Marble
to see where high populations with electricity are. Carbon
aerosol is basically soot produced by low-tech burning.
Sulfate aerosol is a type of pollution caused by high-tech energy
production. By overlaying these datasets you can see where
these different types of pollution come from and why.
As a trend, societies go from low-tech burning (done for 1000s of
years) to more sophisticated forms of energy production. In
that light, the US is the most advanced, Africa is the least
advanced, and Asia is somewhere in the middle.
What do you think these same datasets would look like as we move
to more Solar, Wind, and Hydroelectric energy production?
Black Marble 2012
The Black Marble 2012 shows lights at night. Since they
are mostly electric lights they represent places that have both high populations
and sophisticated energy production.
Check out these three locations:
A) Eastern US: Lots of lights. High population.
B) Central Africa: Dark. Even though there is a high
population, not that much electricity. Much of the energy is
from wood burning fires and low tech sources.
C) Asia: Lots of lights. High population and sophisticated
Aerosol Black Carbon Optical
Next, overlay Aerosol Black Carbon Optical Thickness. The
purple swirls show where carbon soot is. (Note: if you drag
the transparency slider about half way, you can see both the carbon
aerosol and the night lights showing through.)
A) Eastern US: Lots of lights. Even though there are lots
of people, we have pretty much cleaned up the air (compared to
other places.) Also, coal power plants have scrubbers to
filter out this type of pollution before it gets into the air.
B) Central Africa: There are lots of people here and they are
burning things which put out a lot of soot.
C) Asia: Although they have lots of electricity generation, they
have not yet cleaned up their act. So we see lots of soot in
Aerosol Black Carbon and Sulfate
Optical Thickness -
Now, turn OFF the Aerosol Black Carbon layer and turn ON
theAerosol Black Carbon and Sulfate Optical Thicknesslayer. This
shows the soot in purple, as before, and sulfate pollution in
green. Again, you can slide the transparency so the night
lights shine through.
A) Eastern US: Lots of green, meaning sulfate pollution.
This is a byproduct of cars and newer power plants. So, even
if there is no soot, there is still plenty of pollution.
B) Central Africa: Almost no sulfates. That's because
there energy sources are the less sophisticated types. But
lots of purple showing soot.
C) Asia: You see both soot and sulfate pollution. This is
consistent with both newer and older energy sources. Also,
lots of cars mean lots of sulfate pollution.