Latitudes used a computer controlled theatrical floodlights to represent the movement of carbon between atmosphere and ecosystems at different latitudes from pole to pole. 

For several decades now, climate scientists have used sensors mounted on eddy variance towers to monitor carbon in real time to better understand how the carbon cycle differs between different regions on the Earth.  While these towers capture multiple data sets, Latitude focused on the rate of exchange of carbon between ecosystems and the atmosphere as they measure carbon that goes into the air, and carbon that goes into the ground.   I worked with ecologist Dr. John Schade and Dr. Sue Natali of Woods Hole Research Center in Cape Cad locate and organize the tower data provided by Fluxnet.  Aaron Heidgerken-Greene programmed the lights.

Arrayed linearly in beams of light that represent both the sampling locations, and the notion of time, each floodlight was tied to a specific eddy variance tower’s data collection point.  As the rate of carbon transmission into the atmosphere increased, the color turned warm, as the ecosystem collected more carbon, the color turned cool.  Every three seconds represented a month as the data accumulated over time.

This installation spoke to the complicated spatial and time-based qualities of the carbon cycle through a delightful spectacle while highlighting the tie between our local surroundings and the global climate.


Aaron Dysart is a fiscal year 2017 recipient of an Artist Initiative Grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board. This activity is made possible by the voters of Minnesota through a grant from the Minnesota State Arts board, thanks to a legislative appropriation from the arts and cultural heritage fund.