Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Greta Thunberg's Real-Time Map


Greta Thunberg is just about half-way through her two-week journey to the United States. The young climate activist is crossing the Atlantic by solar-powered yacht in order to attend the Climate Action Summit in New York on 21-23 September.

You can follow Greta's journey on a real-time interactive map. Team Malizia shows the real-time position of the yacht Malizia II as it crosses the Atlantic. The map includes the track of the yacht's journey so far from Plymouth in the UK and Greta's Tweets and photos taken during the crossing. Thanks to an animated wind layer you can also view the wind directions and speeds in the Atlantic in real-time.

The journey from the UK to New York is over 3000 nautical miles and the journey will take around two weeks. The Malizia II does have an emergency combustion engine in compliance with IMOCA rules but the engine will not be used during the journey. Electricity on the yacht is generated by solar and hydro power. These two energy sources are capable of providing more electricity than the yacht actually needs. Therefore the journey will be fully emission free.

The Malizia II is a racing yacht and is therefore kept as light as possible. This means the yacht has no toilet, shower, cooking facilities or proper beds. The two week journey to the USA won't exactly be a comfortable experience for Greta or the crew.

Monday, August 19, 2019

1% of the World Lives Here


If you've ever visited Map Porn on Reddit you will do doubt have seen the endless maps which highlight the most densely populated areas of a country and which have a title along the lines of '...% of this country lives here'. These maps can be quite interesting but on the whole their ubiquity is a little tedious.

Having said that I do really like this World Population 3D globe. Spin this globe around and the red dot will shrink or grow to show you where 1% of the world's population lives in the current map view. Move the globe over Siberia and the red circle grows to cover half of Russia. Center the globe over India and the red dot shrinks to just a small speck on the map.

You can adjust the percentage of the population shown within the red circle simply by using the slider control bar provided. One thing the map misses is an underlying layer showing population density. However if you switch to the night view you can see a night light layer, which does provide a very rough idea of population density across the globe.


Last year The Pudding created an impressive interactive map which visualized the world's population in 3D. The Pudding's Human Terrain interactive map shows population density across the globe using 3D population pyramids. The taller a pyramid block on The Pudding map then the more people live there.

The Pudding used its own map to explore in more detail the pattern of population density around the world. In Population Mountains The Pudding examines how unevenly the world is populated and how population density can take different forms in different parts of the world.

For example The Pudding compares the pyramid population maps of some European cities to Kinshasa, DRC. In Kinshasa poor transportation infrastructure has led to a densely populated city center, whereas European cities tend to have less densely populated centers and more densely populated suburbs. Because of poor transportation in Kinshasa the population pyramids in the city center fall sharply away, while in European cities there tends to be a more gradual slope from the center out into the suburbs.

The Proper Pronunciation of Placenames


Have you ever experienced the embarrassment of mispronouncing the name of a town or city while traveling abroad? Well you now no longer have to worry about how a difficult place-name should be pronounced. Using the Spoken Word interactive map you can now just simply click on a location to listen to the place-name being spoken by a native speaker.

The Spoken Word was created by Michael McNeil for his masters degree at the University of Kentucky. The map uses recordings from Forvo to provide clips of native speakers pronouncing place-names around the world. Forvo is an online pronunciation reference website. The site compiles recordings of pronunciations for words in different languages. These recordings include the pronunciations of place-names around the world.

The Spoken Word is a great idea for an interactive map. However I think the map could be improved by simply replacing the markers on the map with the actual place-name labels for each location. This would be an easy enough task in Mapbox. You could even use a different color for these labels so that these locations couldn't be confused with the underlying place-name labels on the map.

A Game of Hungarian Thrones


Tomorrow Hungary will celebrate St. Stephen's Day. The day commemorates the foundation of the Hungarian state. On this day Hungarians remember Stephen I, the first king of Hungary and founder of the Kingdom of Hungary. St Stephen became king of Hungary in 1001. For the following 917 years Hungary was ruled by a succession of monarchs, until Charles IV renounced participation in state affairs in 1918.

You can explore the history of Hungary's royal kings and queens on Atlo's Battle of Thrones. This detailed history of the Hungarian royal families includes a number of data visualizations including family trees and an interactive map. The map shows the places where each of Hungary's royal rulers was born and died. It reveals that the Hungarian royal family have originated from all across Europe. In fact even the second king of Hungary, Stephen I's successor, Peter of Venice, was born in the Republic of Venice (he wasn't the only Hungarian king born in Venice - Andrew III was also a native of the republic).

Other Hungarian kings have been born in what is now Spain, Romania, Italy, Germany, Poland and  elsewhere across the continent. On the map the red circles show where a monarch was born and the blue circles indicate the monarch's place of death.

Saturday, August 17, 2019

The 3D Building Age Map


Bert Spaan's Netherland's Building Age Map, created for the Waag website, is one of my favorite interactive maps of all time. This map visualizes the age of a staggering 9,866,539 buildings in the Netherlands. This is very impressive in itself but its use of distinct colors for buildings of different construction ages means that the map also has a striking visual impact.

Inspired by Spaan's map Parallel has created a Netherlands Building Ages interactive map which shows not only the age of 10 million buildings in the Netherlands but the height of those buildings as well. This map makes use of Mapbox's GL extrude property to visualize the height of all the buildings in 3D. The colors of the buildings indicate their age. You can also hover individual buildings to learn a building's exact year of construction.


The map team at the City of Amsterdam used the same Construction and Address Database (BAG) used in the above two maps to create an animated map of the construction of Amsterdam over time.

Amsterdam Growing Over Time is an incredible animated map which shows how the city of Amsterdam has developed and grown from a few houses in the 17th century into the dynamic city it is today. Click on the play button and you can watch as the city's building footprints are added chronologically to the map based on each building's age.

Some of the buildings in the BAG database are obviously newer buildings which have been built in the same location and which replaced older buildings. The map therefore doesn't provide an exact picture of how the city developed. However Amsterdam has enough historical buildings still standing for the animated map to provide a reasonable overview of how Amsterdam has grown over the centuries.

Using Mapbox's extrude property it would be possible to create an animated map of Amsterdam which showed the buildings of the city growing out of the map over time. This sort of historical animated map might be even more impressive in somewhere like New York, a city where there are much taller buildings. Imagine an animated map of New York during the 20th Century showing the city's skyscrapers emerging from the map and growing ever taller over time.

Friday, August 16, 2019

Coral Bleaching of the Great Barrier Reef


Since 1981 the Great Barrier Reef has suffered from four major mass bleaching events. Bleaching happen when very high sea temperatures cause the coral to release the colorful algae that lives inside its tissue. The algae is extremely important for the health of the coral. Without the algae the coral starves. In 2016 93% of the Great Barrier was effected by coral bleaching.

Carbon Brief's Can the Great Barrier Reef survive climate change? includes an interactive story map which looks at the Great Barrier Reef's four bleaching events since 1981. As you scroll through Carbon Brief's story the map updates to show the extent of the barrier reef effected by each of these four bleaching events.

Coral bleaching happens when sea temperatures rise. A rise in temperature of 1 degree Celsius above average can cause bleaching. Because of global heating severe coral bleaching is five times more frequent now than it was 40 years ago. Carbon Brief's report explores how coral bleaching has a knock on effect on many other species which rely on the coral reef to survive. It also explores how warmer sea temperatures effect the coral's ability to reproduce.

3D Terrain Mapping


Vladimir Agafonkin, the creator of the Leaflet mapping platform, has released a JavaScript library for real-time terrain mesh generation from height data. MARTINI allows you to render terrain in 3D.

MARTINI builds a 3D terrain using Right-Triangulated Irregular Networks (RTIN). Check out this MARTINI: Real-Time RTIN Terrain Mesh Observable notebook which both explains what this means and includes a demo map which shows you perfectly how RTIN works. You can zoom in an out and rotate the demo map. You can also adjust the level of precision using the slide control.

The 2D map below the 3D scene also updates in real-time when you adjust the precision of the map. This provides a great visualization of how Martini works as it shows the number of triangles being used at different levels of precision.

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Mapping Earthquake Scenarios


The LA Times has released an interactive map which allows you to visualize a number of different earthquake scenarios on top of any California location. To create the map the newspaper worked with the U.S. Geological Survey to identify 14 different significant earthquake scenarios which could strike along California's fault lines.

If you enter a California address into the What would a powerful earthquake feel like where you live? interactive map you can view the likely effect of an earthquake at your address. The map is colored to show the extent of shaking that could be felt around the epicenter of a quake. The map also provides an assessment of the cost of the possible damage, the number of lives which could be lost and the number of non-fatal injuries.

The map shows the worst of the 14 scenarios for your address. This isn't necessarily the worst earthquake which could happen. The USGS has actually modeled 300 scenarios for the California area. For reasons of speed the LA Times map only uses 14 of these scenarios.


The OpenQuake Map Viewer provides free and open-source visualizations of global earthquake hazards. Each of the Map Viewer visualizations uses the OpenQuake engine, a seismic hazard and risk calculation software, to show seismic risks & hazards and seismic exposure around the world,

Currently the OpenQuake Map Viewer provides three separate interactive Leaflet powered maps: the Global Seismic Hazard Map, the Seismic Risk Map and the Global Exposure Map. The Global Seismic Hazard Map shows the potential for seismic activity based on hazard and risk calculation models. The Seismic Risk Map visualizes the average annual cost of seismic activity around the world. The Global Exposure Map is a visualization of the built areas of the world.

The Global Seismic Risk Map can provide individual country seismic risk assessments. Click on a country on the Risk Map and you can view details on the annual cost of seismic activity for residential buildings, commercial buildings and  industrial buildings. You can also download the full OpenQuake profile for any country.

Berlin: The Divided City


They may have torn down the wall but Berlin remains a city painfully divided - by football. In the eastern red half of the city live the faithful supporters of FC Union Berlin. In the opposite, western blue half of the city reside the fans of Hertha BSC.

Last season FC Union Berlin secured their first ever promotion into the Bundesliga. The result is that this season Berlin will have two football teams playing in the Bundesliga and support for the two teams is split fairly evenly across the city. You can see how support for the two Berlin Bundesliga teams divides the city on a new interactive map.

The Berliner Morgenpost's Fußballkarte map shows which of the two Berlin football clubs have the most members in each postcode area. If you mouse-over a postcode area on the map you can view the actual number of members in the area for both teams. In truth, as the more established Bundesliga club, Hertha BSC (36,930) has more paid-up members than FC Union Berlin (29,043).

If you live in Hamburg then you have no need to feel left out. Hamburger Fußballkarte is an interactive map that visualizes where HSV and St. Pauli have the most fans in the city of Hamburg. German football fans might also like the Berliner Morgenpost's Fußballkarte (Beta) map. This map shows the geographical support for most of Germany's top football teams across the whole country. The map was created back in 2014 so the data might be a little out of date.

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Right Whale Spotting


The NOAA Right Whale Sighting Advisory System is an interactive map of right whale sightings in the North Atlantic. The system has been designed to help reduce collisions between ships and the critically endangered North Atlantic right whale.

Using the map mariners can see where right whales have most recently been sighted off the east coast. The map includes a tool which allows you to see all the right whale sightings made in the last two weeks. Alternatively you can select to view whale sightings for any selected date range.

If you want to view the location of right whales spotted in the last two weeks in Canadian waters you can visit the WhaleMap. The WhaleMap shows both confirmed sightings of right whales and whales which have been detected acoustically. On the map the black markers show sightings of whales, while the red markers show right whales which have been acoustically detected. If you click on these markers you can find out how many whales were spotted at that location and the date of the sighting.