Thursday, September 20, 2018

Earth Animations

Earth is a project from Cameron Beccario showing a wide range of climatic conditions that can be animated. Here are the winds animated from Hurricane Florence as it made landfall on September 14th.
At the same time an even more intense Typhoon Mangkhut battering the Philippines.
You can choose to look at air or ocean currents, waves, water and air temperatures (at different heights)  and various other factors. You can even switch map projections. Here are ocean waves using the Waterman Butterfly projection,
and ocean currents in the North Atlantic, looking very Van Gogh-like.
Data are from various global sensors, the geographic data comes from Natural Earth. The visualizations are created in the browser using javascript programming. The color schemes are intuitive enough that no legend is required. Here is the three hour precipitation accumulation over North Carolina from the hurricane.
Another option is the probability of seeing an aurora.
Explore more here

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Boston's Highway Dreams

Recently I went to a meeting at the public library in Medford, Massachusetts. With some time to kill beforehand, I browsed their map collection and came across this atlas put out by the state (excuse me, Commonwealth) in 1962.
It shows the existing and proposed highways. Here is an optimistic assessment of the reduction in travel times that would result from the proposed expressways.
The green lines are the travel times in 1945 while the red lines are the forecasted times in 1975 after the highway system was expected to be complete. Dotted gray lines are the proposed highways, most of which were never built due to a combination of powerful local opposition and budget constraints. Note how the red lined areas expand along these corridors. With or without expressways the notion of getting downtown within 15 minutes from most of the area below is very quaint.
The plans included a central ring, the Inner Belt or Interstate 695, that was to be built through neighborhoods of Boston, Brookline, Cambridge and Somerville. There were also proposals for a northwest expressway connecting Route 3 to I-695 and one for the Southwest Corridor alignment of Interstate 95.
Much of the housing along the Southwest Corridor was cleared for the highway by the time the project was cancelled. This land was repurposed for a linear park with a transit route for the MBTA Orange Line and Amtrak's Northeast Corridor. Yes, the Southwest Corridor became part of the Northeast Corridor. Here is a detail showing an area of Roxbury that would have been traversed by I-95.
I'm not sure what the orange-green color scheme is for but it clearly shows how the neighborhood would have been split - like an Atlantic Record.

Here is the interchange between 95 and the Inner Belt. This map has south at the top so it's disorienting. Even more so because so much of this neighborhood was wiped out without the highways being built.
Finally, a detail that hits close to home because it is close to my home - the never built Northwest and Route 3 Expressways.

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Big D

Everything is bigger in Texas but Dallas just got really big according to this map at Winco Foods - via reddit.
By comparison - here are their store locations from their online map.
A closer up look shows that while they may have had fun with the  ridiculous exaggerations, their locations are also pretty awful. Duncanville is east (not west) of Arlington. Denton is not further west than Fort Worth and Carrollton is well to the west of McKinney. At least they got Lewisville sort of right.

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Aerosol Earth

NASA's Earth Observatory created this stunning image of aerosols - airborne particles and liquid droplets.
These aerosols "range in size from a few nanometers—less than the width of the smallest viruses—to several several tens of micrometers—about the diameter of human hair. Despite their small size, they have major impacts on our climate and our health." - via NASA aerosol page

In the image above blue represents sea salt. The concentrated areas show major storms, particularly two cyclones off the coasts of Japan and Korea and a hurricane approaching Hawaii. Red indicates black carbon, mostly from agricultural burning in Africa and Wildfires. Purple is dust, mostly from deserts. Also included is a layer of white night light data to indicate urban areas. Here is the legend enlarged for emphasis.
The NASA page includes a zoomed in detail from southern Asia, emphasizing the deserts, cyclones and population centers of the area.
More from NASA here.

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Cockney Sound Map

The geographic definition of a Cockney (London's most beloved and belittled accent) is someone who was born within earshot of the church bells of St. Mary-le-Bow. The church is centrally located in the Cheapside district. The tremendous increase in ambient city noise has shrunk their area quite a bit over the years.
This "sound map" via Wired was compiled by noise consultants 24 Acoustics. 150 years ago the bells could be heard in much of the city (the green areas) including some areas across the river. As noise has increased from traffic, construction, airplanes, air conditioners and other symptoms of urban life, the area where you can hear the bells has shrunk down to the blue section. The shape and reach of these areas is affected by wind direction.

The sound-shed is now so small that there are no longer any maternity wards located within earshot of the bells. That means no more babies are being born as cockneys (unless born at home, or on the way to the hospital). Out of concern for losing cockney culture one area vicar backed a plan to make an MP3 audio file available to would be cockneys. This is available from the Times Atlas of London according to this article, however the link is broken. You can hear them on YouTube.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Rivers of Plastic

There has been a large increase in both the amount of plastic in the oceans and in public awareness of the issue. National Geographic and Nature have both done a good job of covering this issue. Cartographer John Nelson made a wonderful map, inspired by the rivers/mountains type of diagrams that I recently featured here, showing the three most contributing rivers in that style.
For better resolution click above - here is a detail from the Yangtze River.
I like how he managed to give this not only an old style look but also make the river colors and textures look a bit like plastic.  Also it is worth noting that the boxes on the bottom of each river represent the weight of about five cars, this weight is multiplied by the number of boxes EACH DAY.
For more on Nelson's map click here

National Geographic also recently published an excellent graphic story on this subject. Here are rivers with circled sized by level of contribution of plastics,
and here is a graphic view. This is just for Asia,
and here is the rest of the world.
Note that the scale on the two above images is close but not exact. To see these side by side scroll through the article.

Finally, a map of the Yangtze basin showing the sources of mismanaged municipal plastic waste.

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Sheep and Wheat

Sheep and wheat together.
This charming map, downloaded from the National Library of Australia is one of a series of maps by geographer Thomas Griffith Taylor. It is one of a series  from the 1920's called "The New Oxford Wall Maps of Australia." Taylor liked to show multiple variables, in this case density of sheep in green overlaid with wheat in a black line pattern. Helpful text tells you where there are "No Sheep" and "Some Sheep" with a thick boundary separating the sheep and non-sheep areas.

Also, though there is some shading in Tasmania, there are "no very important wheat areas" there. Similarly, here are cattle and minerals.
Cattle follow a similar pattern to sheep (neither animal does well in the desert) except in the north where cattle do better. The "V.F.C." and "FEW" text bits add charm. Minerals are identified mostly as points rather than areas, except for some more defined gold areas in the west.

Here is his vegetation map. There is a lot of Mulga. I had to look this up - it refers to bushy, sandy lands containing mulga trees, a type of acacia. Mallee, common in the south is a semi-arid climate region with scattered eucalyptus trees.
More of his maps can be seen on this page from ABC (Australia) news.