Ten services for tracking the environmental problems of the planet

    16 May 2021

    Where is the dirtiest air? Where are forests cut down? Which countries will be flooded if all the ice melts? This collection contains interactive maps and portals that will be useful to those who want to keep abreast of the latest climate data.

    1. Earth in real time

    What can you find out. Temperature, concentration of carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, ozone and water vapor, gravity field level, soil moisture, sea level and salinity.

    How does it work. Free app for Android and for  iOS  iOS from NASA. All information comes from satellites. You can read about them separately. The application also shows the orbits along which the satellites move.

    2. Forests of the world: the Global Forest Watch project

    What can you find out. The map has many features that show forest loss over the years, forest growth, protected areas, biodiversity, and more.

    How does it work. This is a joint project of the World Resources Institute and Google. The portal collects information from both satellites and open sources. There’s both an interactive map and an information site. The map breaks down forest loss and recovery data by country and year. The portal has many articles on forest and land use and climate change.

    There is a Forest Watcher mobile application for Android and for iOS.

    3. World Air Quality Index

    What can you find out. To what extent are the values ​​of suspended particles, carbon dioxide, ozone and other pollutants in the air exceeded?

    How does it work. The site collects real-time data on air quality from more than 100 countries around the world. Depending on the city, the indicators by which the air condition is assessed differ. The number of metering stations also varies from city to city.

    World Air Quality Index is a non-profit project that started operating in 2007. Now the map unites more than 10 thousand monitoring stations. The service collects information from both official sources and from individuals. You can install the measuring device yourself and transfer information to the site.

    4. Map of ocean plastic pollution

    What can you find out. See where the most plastic accumulates in the seas and oceans.

    How does it work. Developed by New Zealand designers who have collected data from field research and expeditions. The map shows the approximate concentration of plastic waste in the seas and oceans. Each white dot on the card represents approximately 20 kg of floating plastic.

    On the site, you can study in detail some expeditions: track the route and the amount of plastic waste found at a particular point. The map has a breakdown not only by quantity, but also by weight and size of particles: from 0.33 mm to 20 cm.

    5. Flood map

    What can you find out. See which cities will be flooded if the water level rises by 1 m or more.

    How does it work. Flood Map is a private initiative of programmer Alex Tingle, who combined open NASA data on the map. Select the water level (from 1 to 60 m) – and the forecast of flooding around the world appears on the map.

    The creator admits that the forecasts are approximate, since the data are incomplete, and it is difficult to take into account all climatic factors. For him, this is primarily a chance to draw people’s attention to the problem of climate change and rising ocean levels.

    6. Climate time machine

    What can you find out. In dynamics, see the melting ice of the Arctic, rising sea levels, changes in global temperature and an increase in the concentration of carbon dioxide.

    How does it work. This is a kind of time machine for climate – visualization of key climatic indicators based on NASA data.

    Maps have data for different years, so it’s easy to see changes by switching between dates. Here you can get visual information on the global temperature for a specific year or compare the amount of ice in the Arctic over different periods.

    7. Data on climate change

    What can you find out. Visual data on greenhouse gas emissions ranked by country, industry and type of greenhouse gas.

    How does it work. Climate Watch is managed by the World Resources Institute. The site collects data from various reputable open sources.

    It is a free platform for politicians, journalists and everyone who’s interested in environmental issues. Scientific and official data can be freely taken from the site. The portal is specially designed so that everyone can download the graphs and tables they need.

    8. Ecological Footprint Map

    What can you find out. Whether the country is an environmental donor or creditor, and which countries have the most negative environmental impacts.

    How does it work. Employees of the site collect information from different departments of the UN and calculate on the basis of these data for each country the level of resource consumption and its biocapacity – the availability of productive lands for the reproduction of resources and the absorption of carbon dioxide emissions. If a country consumes more resources than nature is able to recover, then it is considered an environmental debtor. Environmental lenders are countries where recovery is outstripping consumption.

    The non-profit project was founded in 2003. Its purpose is to raise awareness among people of environmental issues. The creators of the service urge to openly use their data, so it is easy to download all the charts from the site. You can also calculate your personal carbon footprint on the portal.

    9. Ozone map

    What can you find out. The thickness of the ozone layer over a certain area and the dynamics of changes.

    How does it work. This map is a development of the Canadian organization World Ozone Monitoring, which has been monitoring the change in the ozone layer since 1998. Information comes from satellites and ground measuring stations. The data is updated once a day. Changes in the ozone layer for the Arctic can be viewed separately.

    The thickness of the ozone layer is measured in Dobson units, which is equal to 10 micrometers. If there are less than 220 such units, then we can talk about the ozone hole.

    10. ScanEx fire map

    What can you find out. See where the forests are burning, find out the approximate area of ​​the fire, track changes and intensity.

    How does it work. The map summarizes data from satellites, which work on the principle of heat points. That means that satellites notice a fire by infrared radiation. The temperature at the site of the fire is much higher than the temperature of the earth, so it’s easy to fix it, while clouds and smoke do not interfere. Satellites transmit data two-four times a day.

    The map was created by Russian specialists but works and around the world (it obtains data from NASA open sources). There are additional settings, e.g., the boundaries of reserves. The site doesn’t require registration, the basic version is free. In the paid version of Pro, information is updated twice as often, there’s access to detailed images and weather forecast maps.

    We’re thankful to RBK for this brilliant compilation.

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