Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Quiet Skies

As the current epidemic takes over Europe, one of the major effects has been the reduction of air traffic. Craig Taylor, a data visualization specialist has captured this well in a couple of tweets showing the differences across Europe over the past two weeks. The first one is a little harder to read but in the second one you can really see the dropoff in flights by the height and number of blue bars - as opposed to red ones.

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Some Interesting Epidemic maps

Here is one interesting side effect of the shutdowns caused by a global pandemic; reduced emissions. The video below shows how northern Italy under lockdown has greatly reduced their Nitrogen Dioxide emissions.

To get an idea of how bad and long lasting the situation can get it can be useful to look at past deadly outbreaks.

There was a good article a few years ago on mapping the "Russian Flu" epidemic of 1889-90 from the National Library of Medicine. It includes this color coded map published in Germany a few years later. Each color represents a time period of the spread of the flu from its origins in Central Asia.
The legend gives a good idea of the time periods involved.
The article also includes an animation of the spread based on this map - it can be seen here.

Finally, here is a pretty awful map from today's online version of the New York Times.

All of western Europe is labeled as "Italy", the label placement for South Korea is confusingly poor, the bright orange is more alarmist than it needs to be and Japan is not even colored in the alarmist color.

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Canada's Ecological Disaster

Take a minute out from worrying about infectious diseases to worry about how melting permafrost can kill you (tl;dr go to last sentence). Canadian Geographic cartographer Chris Brackley made a nice map showing permafrost overlaid with subsoil carbon content for a story from last year.

Melting permafrost releases more carbon into the atmosphere further accelerating the planet's warming process. The map clearly shows areas that where the most ecological damage may occur. In addition to carbon, thawing permafrost can also release toxins into the atmosphere. The article details how a child was killed in Siberia by an anthrax infection from a newly exposed reindeer carcass.

Wednesday, March 4, 2020

Australia's Ecological Disaster

Reuters Graphics has done a nice job of showing species habitat overlaid with areas that have recently burned.
For example here is the Eastern Ground Parrot and the parts of its habitat that have been affected by fires.
A detail of Kangaroo Island shows the extent of fire in the only known habitat of the Kangaroo Island Dunnart, a mouse sized marsupial.
According to the article Wallabies are affected more by loss of food supply than by the fires. National Park service staff have airdropped thousands of kilos of carrots and sweet potatoes from helicopters to help the species.
 From the article:
As fires become more frequent and more intense across Australia, even if the small exclusive areas where these animals live had escaped the recent fires, they would have been at higher risk of burning in coming decades, Lindenmayer said.
“The danger that we are now seeing in large parts of Australia that are burning so frequently is that animals simply don't have enough time to recover before there's another fire.”
 The full article is here 

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Hidden Goodies in Swiss Topo Maps

The Swiss Office of Topography (Swisstopo) has long been creating the most beautiful and meticulously created maps anywhere. A wonderful new article in the American Institute for Graphic Art's Eye on Design is titled  For Decades, Cartographers Have Been Hiding Covert Illustrations Inside of Switzerland's Official Maps.
Cartographers at the office have been putting images like this marmot on their maps as an inside joke or possibly as a way to escape the strictures of such cartographic rigor and the level of concentration demanded of it. Most of them are removed when discovered by proofreaders but some elude discovery for years. Here is a nice fish hiding in a nature preserve.
A hiker making his way among the mountain peaks just across the Italian border. The cartographer may have drawn it in part to fill in details they were missing from the Italian geographical services.

Here is a spider.
Many more nice examples and details can be seen here.

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Rand McNally, The Early Years

Rand McNally is a giant in the world of cartography, dominating the US market during the pre-internet era and still producing maps and road atlases as well as being a player in the fleet management, connected vehicle and educational markets. The company began as a printing shop in Chicago in 1856. According to company lore (via Wikipedia) the business survived the Great Chicago Fire by burying two printing machines in a beach on Lake Michigan.

In the 1860's they began printing railroad timetables and in 1872 produced their first map as part of their Railroad Guide.
The Library of Congress has some nice examples of their early maps. Before they developed a standardized look their maps had all kinds of creative details. This giant finger, for example, is kind of awesome.
This map, Colonists' and emigrants' route to Texas has some wonderful townscapes, though I'm not sure how accurate they are or were at the time.
What I really like though is this transition from a traditional continental-scale railroad map to the larger scale pictorial map of Texas right at the border.
Texas is a REALLY BIG state! Here is what the whole map looks like.
Galveston, with its steam ship lines.
 One final detail of this map that I like is the water lines.
Here is some really nice topographic and road detail from their 1877 northern Black Hills map.
The map features illustrations along the sides including this classic stereotype.
The company began producing atlases in 1876. "Printed in colors from plates secured by letters patent, producing the clearest typographical effect of any known engraved plates." Here is a sample from the 1878 Business Atlas, later known as the Commercial Atlas & Marketing Guide. The maps are beginning to show a standardized style.
In the pre-auto age these atlases emphasized the railroads (the dark lines). The current Road Atlas, shows motor vehicle routes while not showing railroads at all.

Thursday, February 13, 2020

Tokyo Trains in 3D

I love these live train animation things and yes I've shown them before but this one is 3D!
Yes the trains are overly boxy but still pretty cool. Also, like any good visualization you can click a train for info.
The more you zoom in, the more detail you get, and the faster te trains go.
 Here is the busy Shinjuku station in motion at night.
This site is was created by Akihiko Kusanagi.
Watch the trains here-just keep in mind that if you are in North America, there is a good chance you will be watching these trains in the middle of the night Tokyo time and may not see much action.