Thursday, October 11, 2018

Cha if by Land, Tea if by Sea

There's a very interesting post on Quartz, titled Cha if by Land, Tea if by Sea: Why the world only has two words for tea. Actually, its only one word, represented by the Chinese character 茶. This character is pronounced in most of China as "chá" but in the coastal provinces where the Dutch traded, it is pronounced "te". The Dutch brought tea back to Europe on ships where variations of the word were spread, while overland trade to other regions led to variations on chá, such as chai.
The map above was clipped to fit this page better. To see the entire image with legend and credits click on it. Blue dots are variations of "te" based on the Min Nan (south coastal Chinese) dialect while magenta dots are variations of Sinitic (common to most forms of Chinese) dialects. There are a few scattered gray dots where other local words are used. These are mostly in native tea growing regions, where the crop developed independently.

 Countries along the Silk Road trading routes, as well as parts of East Asia and East Africa have "chá"-like words for tea while most of Europe uses "te"variations. Eurpoean exceptions include Portugal, whose trade was conducted through Macao, where chá was used, the Basque region, possibly due to proximity to Portugal, and parts of Eastern Europe where trade was likely to have been from overland routes.

For New Zealanders, who may be upset at the omission from the original map (wider maps show up less clearly in this format), here you go:

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

The Wealth of African Cities

Africa's economy is growing rapidly as are its cities. Population projections for 2100 show Lagos. Nigeria becoming the world's largest "megacity" with a population reaching over 88 million. This video shows the predicted top 20 cities in 2100, the top three will be in Africa. A map, via Visual Capitalist shows where private wealth is concentrated on the continent.

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Huge North America Pictorial

Last night, thanks to the Leventhal Map Center in Boston, I had the opportunity to see Anton Thomas discuss his amazing map project that has been four years in the works.
We all got to look up close at a copy of the map (from stitched together photographs of the original) as seen above. Magnifiers were also provided.
The photos above were taken with my phone under poor lighting conditions. Here is a detail from his web page to get a better sense of the map.
The project started with a drawing on the refrigerator in his apartment in Montreal. He recently visited and confirmed that the fridge is still there though it barely works.
Before embarking on the current map he did one titled South Asia and Australasia.
There are lots of amazing details including the cityscapes, flora and fauna and music and he spent a ton of time researching each place. Below the Chicago skyline there is a guitar with music coming out of it - specifically the notes and rhythm of "Sweet Home Chicago."
Here is a picture of him showing a collection of bears and moose that he drew in various locations.
One of his challenges is what to do when an area is devastated by an earthquake. Here is Haiti with some of the major buildings of Port Au Prince ghosted in.

If you're interested in digging deeper, here is a video where he describes his process.

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.

Friday, August 3, 2018

Random City 1

Last night Maptime Boston helped me indulge my occasional hobby or hand drawn maps. Here's the map I did.
I had no thoughts ahead of time of what to do but I started with a river, then thought about where the major roads would need to go and it took off from there. I tried to create a nicer north side and more industrial, gritty south side (sort of London-esque) but ended up making some nice parts of the south side too.

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Pirates of the South Atlantic

This map is from imgur. Like so many things on that site, there are no credits. I like the exaggerated rivers and goofily drawn state boundaries.
[Map] Pirates of the South Atlantic and their flags

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Comparative Mountains and Rivers

Continuing last week's theme of comparative maps, here are a few examples of a genre of map that compares mountain heights and river lengths.
This map was originally published by Henry Tanner (1836) and modified by S, Augustus Mitchell (1846), both of Philadelphia.  Like last week's map, the geography is arranged to fit the space with the shortest rivers cleverly positioned atop the tallest mountains.

The peaks are numbered. On this and the other maps from this period the highest known peak was Dhaulagiri in the Himalayas, now the seventh highest. In addition to mountains, the heights of cities and lakes are shown. Below Quito, Ecuador is shown beneath Pambamarca.

Down at the bottom are some of the Pyramids of Egypt, the "Falls of Niagara" and lakes such as Ontario (42), Erie (36) and Superioir (32). Above that is Caracas and the limit (this is a guess) of where bananas grow. Also along the bottom are various cities and landmakes such as the mines of Huancavilica and the Philadelphia Shot Tower. More of this map can be seen on the David Rumsey Map Collection page here.

Here are a couple more variations on this theme You can click them to see enlarged views from the Rumsey collection. This one published in London by William Darton in 1823 has everything arranged on one side.
I like the treatment of the rivers here.
This one (Joseph Thomas, London, 1835) has the rivers at the bottom and the mountains in several rows.
Finally, for a local view, here are the rivers of Scotland.

Many more examples of this theme can be seen on this excellent blog post from the Rumsey collection.