The Art of Air Traffic Over America
As beautiful as the stills above and below are, you must watch the animation here to get the full picture of air travel in the U.S. Note the Eastern Seaboard with all the early morning commuter flights.
In a collaboration with Wired Magazine, Koblin created maps that break down the 205,000 daily flights monitored by the FAA, with different colors for different airplane models and cruising altitudes. The following map is one of my favorite planes, the Airbus A-320.
Though the imagery is beautiful at first glance, the effects of increasing air travel, and the attendant environmental risks of emitting CO2 and other greenhouse gases right into the troposphere, are troubling.
PBS had a very interesting report on the effect of airplane contrails on cloud cover and ambient worldwide temperature, though scientists are still at loggerheads about what effect contrails have on global warming. After the September 11th attacks, when all airplanes were grounded in the U.S. for three days, scientists had the chance to study the effects of airplane travel on a phenomenon known as global dimming, or the cooling affect of cloud increased cloud cover caused by man-made particulates. Some have suggested that global dimming has masked the effects of global warming and that the effects of greenhouse gases may be more severe than we understand.