Wednesday, January 27, 2021

COVID-19: The Early Days

A year ago the COVID-19 pandemic made its first inroads into the United States. The virus was first found in Washington State in late January-early February. Science Magazine details the routes the virus took and includes this map.

The article details how some of the earliest introductions in Washington were controlled by rapid interventions and social distancing. However, subsequent viruses appeared that were genetically similar making for "chains of cryptic transmission that started on 15 January and went undetected for several weeks."  The dashed lines indicate transmissions that died out. An early incursion to Munich, Germany is another example of a dead end. This variant was spread by an auto supplier who came to a company headquarters in Bavaria from Shanghai. The outbreak infected 16 employees but was contained through testing and isolation.

Eventually the virus made inroads in Washington and California by direct travel from China while another pathway brought the virus to New York via Italy. This lead to the earliest outbreaks, first in Seattle and then in New York City.

Thursday, January 21, 2021

The Wood Wide Web

Last night I was reading about the Wood Wide Web, an underground network created by fungi to transfer nutrients, minerals, water and even information among and between species. The diagram below is an illustration of this from Wikipedia.

I could not find a map showing the tree locations in that study but I did find this one from another study. The map shows a 30 cm square plot of Douglas firs. Any resemblance to Washington D.C. is purely coincidental.

This Douglas firs in green have arrows connecting their root systems to the sample locations represented by the black dots. The blue and pink shaded areas represent the fiber networks of two different species of fungus. The oldest trees have the most connections. The tree pointed out with an arrow is the oldest in the stand (94 years old at the time of this study) and has the most connections. 

This diagram shows the same stand with the firs colored by age, the youngest ones are yellow and the oldest dark green. The circles are sized by diameter and the thickness of the lines indicates the degree of connection. The forest is a connected network and removing older trees can have a huge impact on its resilience. More information on this study is here and for an interesting look at these networks see this article in Science Focus.

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Natural Disasters of 2020

In addition to all the other problems of 2020, it was also a record setting year for natural disasters in the United States and worldwide. In the U.S. there were 22 weather and climate disasters with losses exceeding $1 billion. The previous record for this scale of loss was 16 in 2011 and 2017. These disasters also caused 262 deaths. Here's a map from NOAA.

Climate Central has maps showing number of disasters by state (this is all billion dollar events since 1980),

and more interestingly by type, though they should have picked a more clearly distinct color for TROPICS.

Finally, here's a map from Reddit showing disaster type by county. 

Like most things on Reddit there are many caveats. Unlike most things on Reddit the author was good enough to include them here.

Wednesday, January 6, 2021

Harbin Ice and Snow Festival

 Need a break from the dreary weather and political theater of January? Here are some whimsical maps of the Harbin Ice & Snow Festival and the nearby China Snow Town.

The festival features several theme parks, skating rinks, ice sculptures and some really nice light displays

This map is more useful but less fun.

The Snow Town is a ski resort with places named "Snow Charm Hotel" and "Dream Home"

You can't travel there this year but you can see more here. One final sunset picture.