Category: Statistics/Data sets

Vegetation of planet Earth: Researchers publish unique database as open access

Read the full story at

It’s a treasure trove of data: The global geodatabase of vegetation plots “sPlotOpen” is now freely accessible. It contains data on vegetation from 114 countries and from all climate zones on Earth. The database was compiled by an international team of researchers led by Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg (MLU), the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) and the French National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS). Researchers around the world finally have a balanced, representative dataset of the Earth’s vegetation at their disposal, as the team reports in the journal Global Ecology & Biogeography.

Reporter’s Toolbox: Drilling for data on offshore wells

Read the full story from the Society for Environmental Journalists.

The decades-old controversy that has raged over offshore drilling flared anew recently as a federal judge blocked the Biden administration’s temporary halt to new leases on federal land (including those on the outer continental shelf).

So to help cover the ongoing debate, it may be useful to know about the database of information on offshore wells from the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management.

While not all data about leasing and drilling on federal lands is available or easily accessible — this much is. And it can show some meaningful patterns and tell some meaningful stories.

Microgrid Installations Database

The Microgrid Installation Database includes a comprehensive listing of the U.S.’s 461 operational microgrids that provide a total of 3.1 gigawatts of reliable electricity. The information, which is updated on a monthly basis, is presented in a tabular format to help users easily access and sort data. The site features:

  • An interactive map of microgrid installations across the U.S.
  • The ability to filter and search for sites by technology, end-user application, generation and storage capacity, and operating year
  • Downloadable data files

Users can also request to have sites added.

The new U.S. Climate Normals are here. What do they tell us about climate change?

Annual U.S. temperature compared to the 20th-century average for each U.S. Climate Normals period from 1901-1930 (upper left) to 1991-2020 (lower right).
Annual U.S. temperature compared to the 20th-century average for each U.S. Climate Normals period from 1901-1930 (upper left) to 1991-2020 (lower right). (NOAA NCEI)

Read the full story from NOAA. See also the story in the Washington Post.

Every 10 years, NOAA releases an analysis of U.S. weather of the past three decades that calculates average values for temperature, rainfall and other conditions.  

That time has come again.

Known as the U.S. Climate Normals, these 30-year averages — now spanning 1991-2020 — represent the new “normals” of our changing climate. They are calculated using climate observations collected at local weather stations across the country and are corrected for bad or missing values and any changes to the weather station over time before becoming part of the climate record.

Simply stated: The Normals are the basis for judging how daily, monthly and annual climate conditions compare to what’s normal for a specific location in today’s climate. 

Bitcoin consumes ‘more electricity than Argentina’

Read the full story from the BBC.

Bitcoin uses more electricity annually than the whole of Argentina, analysis by Cambridge University suggests.

Webinar: Material Characterization and Economic Impacts of Recycling – 2020 Reports

Feb 25, 2021, 1-2 pm CST
Register here.

In 2018, the United States generated more than 292 million tons of municipal solid waste (MSW). Measuring waste generation and how it is managed characterizes the national waste stream and is an important foundation for managing materials.

This webinar is divided in to two sections. The first part will present the latest information reported in EPA’s most recent Advancing Sustainable Materials Management (SMM): Facts and Figures 2018 report. EPA will present on trends in U.S. materials generation, including recycling, composting, combustion with energy recovery and landfilling. The 2018 report also included measurement of new food management options and new data on construction and demolition debris management.

The second part of the webinar will cover economic indicators and trend data such as personal consumer expenditures, commodity values and tipping fees included in the latest Recycling Economic Information (REI) report. This report examined the larger economic implications of material reuse and recycling. EPA staff will take a deeper dive into those economic impacts and discuss the finding that recycling not only conserves resources and protects the environment, but is also an engine of growth in the U.S. economy. Recycling contributes to jobs, wages and government tax revenue by tapping into a domestic source of materials and supporting businesses and consumers to sustainably recover discarded materials.

EPA Publishes 2019 Annual Toxics Release Inventory Report and Analysis for the Great Lakes Region

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has released its 2019 Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) National Analysis, which shows that EPA and companies that manage chemicals continue to make progress in preventing pollution. The report shows that between 2018 and 2019 total releases of TRI chemicals decreased by 9 percent.

For the first time in five years, industrial and federal facilities reported an increased number of new source reduction activities that aim to reduce or eliminate the amount of chemical-containing waste facilities create. Facilities also avoided releasing 89 percent of the chemical-containing waste they created and managed during 2019 into the environment by using preferred practices such as recycling, treatment, and energy recovery.

Chemical releases in Region 5 have decreased by almost 400 million pounds (46 percent) since 2007. Releases from the electric utilities, primary metals and hazardous waste sectors decreased the most, together decreasing their releases by 374 million pounds. During this time, releases of TRI chemicals to air, water, land, and transfers off site for disposal all decreased. Since 2018, releases decreased by 49.2 million pounds (10 percent). For 2019, 7 percent of facilities in Region 5 reported implementing new source reduction activities. Source reduction reporting rates in the region were among the highest in the computers/electronic products manufacturing sector, in which 23 percent of facilities reported source reduction activities.

The 2019 TRI National Analysis released today reflects TRI chemical waste management activities, including releases, that occurred during calendar year 2019 and therefore does not indicate any potential impacts of the COVID-19 public health emergency that began in the United States in early 2020.

A new Spanish TRI website, as well as a Spanish version of the 2019 Analysis, will be available by the end of January. Spanish-speaking communities across the United States will be able to use this resource to learn about TRI chemical releases in their communities—expanding their access to environmental information and making TRI data more easily accessible.


Thanks to the passage of the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act of 1986 which helped create EPA’s Toxics Release Inventory program, Americans now have greater awareness of how chemicals are being managed in their communities. Today, nearly 22,000 facilities report annually on the use and quantities of more than 760 chemicals they release to the environment or otherwise manage as waste to the Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) program. EPA, states, and tribes receive TRI data from facilities in industry sectors such as manufacturing, mining, electric utilities, and commercial hazardous waste management. The Pollution Prevention Act also requires facilities to submit information on pollution prevention and other waste management activities of TRI chemicals.

Information on facility efforts to reduce TRI chemical releases is available at

Ohio state government unveils new data website

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A new state website makes available data sets ranging from unemployment claims to COVID-19 rates in sewage, as part of a new transparency initiative announced on Monday., rolled out as part of the state’s ongoing InnovateOhio project, contains more than 200 data sets, Lt. Gov. Jon Husted said Monday. State officials envision legislators, state policy staff, think tanks, journalists and members of the public using the information to inform their research.

The Climate Cop: Climate TRACE

Read the full story in Time’s story about the 100 Best Inventions of 2020.

For years, Silicon Valley companies have used artificial intelligence to make social media more addictive and streaming recommendations more predictive. “But very few people want to point these tools at the biggest problem we’re facing: CO2 emissions,” says Gavin McCormick, a co-founder of Climate TRACE. The first-of-its-kind environmental analytics tool—backed by an international coalition that includes seven environmental nonprofits and former Vice President Al Gore—uses a combination of machine learning, infrared satellite imagery and advanced computer modeling to track polluters worldwide in real time.

Latest EPA MSW Facts And Figures

Read the full story in Biocycle.

The U.S. EPA released its annual MSW Facts and Figures report in November, based on 2018 data. For the first time, the data includes a category titled “other food management,” defined as animal feed, biobased materials/biochemical processing, codigestion/anaerobic digestion, donation, land application and sewer/wastewater treatment. The quantity of food waste diverted through this category was 17.7 million tons as compared to 2.6 million tons recycled via composting.

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