Saturday, November 16, 2019

The Biggest Plastic Polluting Brands

In September volunteers around the world took part in an audit of plastic litter. Nearly half a million pieces of plastic waste were collected in 51 different countries. 43% of those individual pieces of plastic were clearly marked with a consumer brand. The top global plastic polluter around the world, according to the audit, was Coca Cola. This is the second year in a row that Coca Cola was the largest plastic polluter, based on the results of the World Clean Up Day audit. 11,732 pieces of Coca Cola branded plastics were found in total. This is more than the next three top brands combined.

The Biggest Plastic Polluters interactive map allows you to view the levels of plastic found in countries around the world. The map uses colored scaled markers to show the amount of plastic picked up in all 51 countries who took part in the audit. You can view the 'Grand Total' of all plastic found in each county or view maps of the 'Coca Cola', 'Nestle', or 'Pepsi' branded plastics found in each country.

The map itself you can take with a pinch of salt. Obviously the totals found in each country are somewhat dependent on the number of volunteers who took part in the audit in each country. The largest markers therefore don't necessarily show the countries producing the largest amount of plastic waste. However it is interesting to see how much the different branded plastics make up of the total number of plastics found in each country.

The Ocean Cleanup probably provides a more scientific assessment of plastic pollution levels around the world. The Ocean Cleanup claims that "80% of river plastic pollution entering the world's oceans stem from 1000 rivers". In Plastic Sources the organization has mapped out what they say are the world's 1,000 most polluting rivers and the 30,000 rivers responsible for the other 20% of the plastic entering our oceans.

Currently the map includes very little information on how the organization calculates the amount of plastic waste distributed by each river or how they determine which are the most polluted rivers. The organization says that their model is based on data on 'plastic waste, land-use, wind, precipitation and rivers' but not where that data comes from. It does say that "Detailed information on our modeling approach and data will follow in our scientific update."

Litterbase is another organization which is attempting to determine the source of the plastic pollution found in the world's oceans. Currently Litterbase provides a summarized overview of the results from over 1,900 studies into the amount and composition of litter and its effect on marine environments. An example of one of these summaries is Distribution of Litter Types in Different Realms, which is an interactive map created from the results of 916 scientific publications on the amount, distribution and composition of litter in the world's oceans.

There are gaps in our knowledge where little scientific research has taken place, for example around Africa and the Polar regions. One way that we can fill in these gaps in our knowledge is by modeling the density of pollution in the oceans based on the results of scientific studies. Sailing Seas of Plastic is a dot density map which shows the estimated concentration of floating plastic in the oceans based on the results of 24 survey expeditions (2007-2013) and on wind and ocean drift models.

Each dot on the Sailing Seas of Plastic map represents 20 kg of floating plastic. According to the map there are 5,250 billion pieces of plastic adrift on the seas of the world. If you want you can also overlay the sailing tracks of the 24 survey expeditions on top of the dot map.

Friday, November 15, 2019

The Moscow Building Age Map

While there have been lots and lots of interactive building age maps released over the last few years very few of these maps have been used to explain the history of construction within individual cities. This is a real shame because these maps obviously have important stories to tell about how towns and cities have developed over time.

That is why I really like the History of Moscow Housing on an Interactive Map. The History of Moscow Housing on an Interactive Map is an exploration of how housing has developed in the Russian capital over the last few centuries. On the map individual buildings are colored to show their year of construction. It is also possible to select individual buildings on the map to view the year that they were built. The time slider at the bottom of the map allows you to view houses built during different time periods.

As well as the interactive map the article includes a graph showing the number of residential houses built in Moscow by year of construction. This graph reveals that the post-war years of 1950-1980 were the most active years for residential development in the capital. Under Khrushchev there was a big drive to construct new homes in Moscow. Under Brezhnev, the pace of construction declined and continued to decrease until the mid-1990s.

The History of Moscow Housing on an Interactive Map was built with the help of Yandex Real Estate. The real estate company says that the age of a home has a big influence on a property's popularity with buyers and/or tenants.

This isn't the first time that Moscow's building ages has been mapped. Mercator's Houses of Moscow also maps the ages of all of Moscow's buildings.

There Are No Streets in Crawley

Since September I've been trying to prove a theory that there are very few new streets in Britain. My theory is that very few roads built after 1800 are called "... Street". Britain has lots of post-1800 roads, avenues, closes, courts and lanes. I believe it has very few new streets. For some reason since 1800 town planners in Britain have taken a strong dislike to calling roads '... Street'.

Today's #30DayMapChallenge is to create a map related to names. I've taken this as an opportunity to put my street theory to the test by exploring the number of 'Streets' and 'Roads' in a UK town largely built after 1800. The new town of Crawley in West Sussex was developed after the Second World War. If my theory is true it should therefore have very few roads names 'Street'.

There Are No Streets in Crawley is an interactive map which colors all roads in Crawley yellow and all streets red. Of the hundreds of roads in Crawley only five of them are named as streets: 'High Street', 'Church Street', 'West Street', 'New Street' and 'Ifield Street'. I don't know old these streets are  but I think all five of them existed before the new town of Crawley was built. I believe all five streets in Crawley can be found on this 1896 Ordnance Survey Map. It is therefore very likely that all five of them pre-date 1800. On the other hand, while there only five roads named 'Street' in Crawley, there are lots of streets named 'Road'. It does appear that the Crawley town planners had a real dislike for 'Street'.

If you want more proof of my theory that we don't call roads 'Street' any more then you can explore the distribution of streets and roads in some of the UK's medieval cities in Medieval Streets and Modern Roads. In this post I looked at how roads named 'Street' tend to be found in the old city centers. These centers also contain very few roads. However city suburbs, mostly built after 1800, have lots of streets named 'Road' and very few named 'Street'.

Obviously the name of my interactive map is a misnomer and it should be called 'There Are Five Streets in Crawley'. However it is true that There Are No Roads in London.

Thursday, November 14, 2019

Cattle & Deforestation in the Amazon

The large number of fires in the Amazon this summer were closely linked to an increase in deforestation. Most of the areas which have recorded the largest number of fires in 2019 have also had the largest number of deforestation warnings. One of the most common causes of deforestation in the Amazon is the increase in cattle farming.

InfoAmazonia and China Dialogue have created an interactive map to visualize the expansion of cattle in the Amazon biome. The interactive map in Rising Beef Demand Linked to Amazon Deforestation colors municipalities by the number of cattle. If you hover over a municipality on the map you can view a graph showing the rise or fall of cattle farming in the region over time. The map also shows the locations of slaughterhouses in the biome.

The China Dialogue article accompanying the map explores the growing consumption of beef in China. This growing demand for beef in China is responsible for much of the expansion in cattle farming in the Amazon region. Exports of beef to China account for 38.2% of Brazilian sales of packed meat. In comparison the USA accounts for 2.7% of Brazilian exports of packed meat

UK Rain, River Levels and Snow

This week a number of locations in the UK have experienced severe flooding. The UK Environment Agency has warned that with heavy rain forecast in some areas over the next four days that further flooding is expected, particularly in South Yorkshire. People in Lincolnshire and the Midlands should also remain aware that flooding may be a risk over the next few days.

The UK government's Flood Warnings for England map shows the locations in England where flood warnings are currently in operation. If you click through on a flood warning's marker on the map you can read more on local river levels and high tides. You can also read about the forecast flood risk and the latest advice to people living in the effected area. If you zoom in on the Flood Warnings for England map you can also view colored polygons showing the areas where flood warnings and flood alerts currently apply.

If you live near a river then as well as referring to the government's Flood Warnings map you might also want to check out this interactive map of river level monitoring stations. River Levels UK maps river gauges using colored arrows. The direction of the arrows show whether the river levels are currently rising or falling. The red arrows indicate that the current level is higher than normal for that location, while green arrows indicate river levels lower than normal. If you click through on a gauge's link you can view more details, such as the time of the latest river level reading.

The government's own River and Sea Levels map also shows the latest measurements from river level monitoring stations. On this map the monitoring stations are colored to show gauges where flooding is possible and where flooding isn't currently a concern. If you click through on a gauge's link on the map you can view a chart of the gauge's measurements over the last five days. This chart includes a line which shows the levels at which flooding becomes possible at that location.

While many areas of the UK experienced heavy rain overnight, some areas have also seen their first snow of the winter. The #uksnow Map uses crowdsourced Tweets to map the location and levels of snow. According the the #uksnow Map snow has fallen in a narrow band from Oxford to Bristol.

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Online GeoJSON Editors

I use nearly everyday to create and edit GeoJSON data. I find it particularly useful for tidying up and minimizing third-party data which I have downloaded from elsewhere. For example, I find very useful for previewing data which I've exported from overpass turbo. Once I've loaded the data into I can then remove or add data depending on my mapping needs.

Vector GeoJSON is another GeoJSON editor which has just been released. Like the online editor can be used to create or edit GeoJSON data directly from your browser. Using Vector GeoJSON you can import data which you have saved from elsewhere. Alternatively you can create data from scratch by adding points or polygons to the Vector GeoJSON map. When you have finished creating or editing your spatial data you can save it as a GeoJSON file. Vector GeoJSON also has an option to covert your GeoJSON to a shapefile (via the ogr2ogr web client).

Perhaps not surprisingly (because Vector GeoJSON has only just been released) at the moment has more options. I particularly like's table view, which makes it very easy to delete surplus features in your data. also currently has more options for exporting your data. As well as saving your finished data as a GeoJSON file allows you to save your spatial data as a shapefile, topoJSON, CSV or KML. 

Tracking Tropical Storm Fengshen

Typhoon Tracking is an interactive map which shows the projected path of tropical storm Fengshen. The map combines an overlay of the storm's predicted path with a movie of how the storm appears from the Himawari-9 satellite. The predicted path was downloaded from the Joint Typhoon Warning Center. The video of the storm was created using images from the Himawari-8 Real-time Web website.

I created this map to meet Day 13's 'tracking' map task in the #30DayMapChallenge I really don't like the map very much but it has taken me far too long creating this already and I haven't got any more time to spare today to improve the map. One big mistake I made in making the map was to add the storm's track to a map style in Mapbox Studio. This means that the track is part of the base-map and appears below the video layer. If I had some more time I would add the storm's track as a layer above the video layer, so that the track isn't hidden behind the video.

If I had a lot more time I might also play around with the color values in the satellite images so that the created animated video blends more seamlessly with the sea color in the background Mapbox satellite map layer.

If you want to create your own video overlay map using Mapbox GL then you should have a look at this video overlay demo map from the Mapbox GL documentation.

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Australian Bushfire Maps

Many parts of Australia, in particular in New South Wales, are experiencing record levels of bushfires. One fire on its own in Coffs Harbour, NSW has a perimeter of 1000 kilometres. With no rainfall forecast and the promise of warm dry conditions for the coming week the extreme threat of fire in the state is expected to continue.

MyFireWatch is an interactive map providing information on the locations of the latest bushfires in Australia. The map uses data from remote sensing satellites and is updated every 2-4 hours, depending on the position of satellites. If you select a fire marker on the map you can read details on the time and date when the fire was last detected and its longitude and latitude.

The NSW Rural Fire Service also provides an interactive map of fires in New South Wales. The NSW Rural Fire Service map shows the locations of fires and the latest known fire extents. The map uses markers which are colored to show the current alert level for the mapped fire. Red markers show the location of fires with an emergency warning alert level. Major fire updates are also listed under the map.

The animated GIF at the top of the page uses images from the Himawari-8 satellite. You can explore satellite imagery of Australia yourself on the Himawari-8 Real-time Web viewer. The times on the GIF are I presume shown in my local time. Sydney is 11 hours ahead so these images are from yesterday afternoon in New South Wales.

If you want to create your own animated GIFs from satellite imagery then another good source of imagery is the RAMMB/CIRA Slider website. This tool allows you to create animated GIFs from satellite imagery from GOES-16 and Himawari-8. The slider uses the latest available imagery from both satellites to allow you to create small animated movies of the Earth.

Mapping the Global Land Grab

Large-scale land acquisitions (LSLAs) can have a devastating impact on local communities. Across the world, particularly in the developing world, land which is used by smallholders and local communities is being bought up by large corporations for agricultural production, for the extraction of natural resources or for industrial development. These controversial land transfer deals often take place behind closed doors and with very little transparency.

The Land Matrix Initiative was established in 2009 in order to gather data on LSLAs and to help promote transparency and accountability in how LSLAs are carried out across the world. The Land Matrix website provides open access to this data, providing information on attempts to acquire land in low- and middle-income countries around the globe.

The Land Matrix interactive map plots the locations of LSLAs in countries across the world. The markers on this map are colored by default to show the implementation status of all the deals represented. You can also select to display the intention of the land deals represented by the markers (agricultural, mining, industrial etc). The Land Matrix data can also be explored using a searchable database and in an interactive graph.

If you are interested in the issue of land ownership then you might also be interested in Who Owns America and Who Owns England.

Monday, November 11, 2019

L.A.'s Wealth Mountains

The Topography of Wealth in L.A. - Visualizing Income Inequality as Terrain is an impressive story map which explores the city's vast income disparities using elevation as a metaphor for wealth. As you scroll through the story the map highlights areas of the city where there is a huge disparity between the median incomes of people living in adjacent neighborhoods.

On the Topography of Wealth map areas of Los Angeles are shown at different heights depending on the area's median annual household income. Neighborhoods with a high median annual household income are shown as tall towers while neighborhoods with a low median income are shown as smaller towers.

The map provides a striking visualization of the distribution of household incomes in the city. Many places in the city have neighborhoods with extremely high median incomes right next door to neighborhoods with very low median incomes.

The map was made with QGIS, Blender, GSAP and D3.js.