Monday, October 14, 2019

Birds & Animals at Risk of Extinction

Two-thirds of birds in North America are at risk of extinction from global heating. That is 389 different species of birds. Conservation group Audobon has mapped out the North American habitats of 604 different species of birds. They then applied the latest climate models to these habitats to project how these habitats will be affected by global heating.

Survival by Degrees: 389 Species on the Brink includes a number of different maps which allow you to find out which birds are at risk in each state and the predicted climate effects on each species of bird. The individual maps for each bird species show the current habitat range of the species. These maps allow you to view how the bird's range will be affected by different global heating scenarios. Under each of these scenarios the map shows where range will be lost and gained and provides an overall vulnerability status for the species.

If you search by zip-code or state you can view a list of all the bird species in your area. Select a species from this list and you can view the species' current range in your area and how that range will be affected under different climate models. You can also view an assessment of the climate threats facing birds (and people) in the selected state and a map of some of the specific threats which global heating will have in your chosen state.

Mapping the birds and animals at risk of extinction from global heating has become more urgent as the pace of global heating accelerates around the world. There are 719 species listed as endangered in the USA under the federal Endangered Species Act. Recently National Geographic used this list to create an interactive map to highlight just one endangered species in every state of the United States. If you hover over a state on National Geographic's See a different endangered animal in every U.S. state map then you can learn about just one of the animals which is currently endangered in that state.

Around the globe more than 28,000 species are threatened with extinction. The International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources's Red List of Threatened Species is a comprehensive database of animal and plant species which are at risk of extinction around the world.

The IUCN Red List website allows you to search for specific animals or plants to view an interactive map showing where the species still exists in the wild and in which areas it has already become extinct. For example this map visualizes the remaining range of the tiger. The map highlights areas where the tiger is still extant (shaded yellow) and the areas where the tiger once ranged but is now extinct (shown in red).

The Fantastic Fall Colors Map

In Fantastic fall foliage … and where to find it the Washington Post has mapped out America's forest species data and colored these forests to show their Fall colors. The colors that forest leaves turn depends on the species of trees. Different trees turn different colors in the Fall and at different times. The Washington Post's map shows the different colors that you can expect across the United States.

The Washington Post article also includes a pretty amazing satellite map which shows the changing fall colors in the Eastern US. This animated map uses MODIS satellite imagery collected over ten years. As the animation plays you can watch the colors of the Eastern US change as the Fall progresses. The article also includes satellite images from across the country, highlighting some of the best places in different states to experience the most vibrant Fall colors.

If you want to know the best time to see the Fall colors in your part of the country then you can refer to Smoky Mountains 2019 Fall Foliage Prediction Map. According to this map every part of the country apart from the most south-eastern states are already experiencing Fall colors.

The Fall Foliage Map uses historical weather records from all 48 continental states to predict the arrival of fall at the county level across the contiguous United States. The map includes a date control which allows you to view the leaf color you can expect for any date from the beginning of September to the end of November.

Monday's Map Game

Don't start work yet! At least not until you've played How Many US Cities Can You Name? How Many US Cities Can You Name is a very simple but strangely addictive game which requires you to name as many US cities as you can.

That's it! You just need to type US city names. Every city you enter will be highlighted on the map. As you add cities to the map the game keeps a running score of how many cities you've named, how many people live in the cities you've named and what percentage of the total US urban population you have named so far. The aim of the game (at least it is my aim) is to get as near to 100% as you can.

After 5 minutes of play I have named 21 cities, with a total population of 26,306,187. That is 11.51% of U.S. urban population. I still have 88.5% to go.

However I'm going to pause playing How Many US Cities Can You Name for a while while I play How Many European Cities Can You Name? How Many European Cities Can You Name has exactly the same rules. Only this time you have to name European cities. My tip is to start by trying to name all the capital cities of Europe.

Saturday, October 12, 2019

Build it and They Will Come

From 1909 to 1970 Forbes Field was home to the Pittsburgh Pirates. This baseball park was also the first home of the Pittsburgh Steelers football team. In 1971 the park was demolished and cleared for use by the University of Pittsburgh.

At some point during the first few years after its construction the Detroit Publishing Company took 5 photographs of Forbes Field which, when stitched together, provide a panoramic view of the baseball stadium. You can zoom in and pan around this panorama on my interactive Forbes Field map.

I used Microsoft's Image Composite Editor to create the panorama. To turn the panorama into an interactive map I adapted the Non-geographical Maps example from the Leaflet tutorials. This allows you to easily create an interactive map from any image or photograph. You can also view the original 5 photographs taken by the Detroit Publishing Co. on the Library of Congress website.

If you like this interactive view of historical Pittsburgh you might also like the panoramic maps I created of a General View of Detroit 1908 and Indianapolis 1907.

Mapping the Heat of this Summer

The BBC has used data from thousands of weather stations to map all the temperature records set in the northern hemisphere over the summer of 2019. Almost 400 locations recorded their hottest ever recorded temperatures during May-August of this year. In Hundreds of temperature records broken over summer the BBC visualizes them all on an animated map.

The BBC's map animates through the summer months adding all the record temperatures set in the northern hemisphere by date. The map uses different colored markers to show records which were the hottest ever recorded on that day, in that month or for all time. As you can see from the screenshot above Europe in particular witnessed an unprecedented hot summer. France, the UK, Belgium, Germany, Luxembourg and the Netherlands all recorded their highest ever temperatures over this summer. In the United States 30 all time temperature records were broken.

Last year also had a very hot summer in the northern hemisphere. The BBC has also mapped out all the temperature records broken from May-August 2018.

Friday, October 11, 2019

California Wildfires and Power Outages

Wildfire risk is once again a topic of fierce debate in California. The Pacific Gas and Electric company has cut electricity and gas to large areas of California as a preventative measure against wildfires. Because of fires being caused by trees falling on power lines PG&E has been blamed for two deadly wildfires over the past two years. In order to avoid liability for wildfires this year the company has decided to deny electricity to millions of Californians.

The Los Angeles Times has used data provided by PG&E to map out where the company is shutting down power. Where PG&E may shut off power shows the areas where PG&E says the power may potentially go out. PG&E are not the only company to be cutting power in California. The LA Times has also released an interactive map which shows Where SoCal Edison may shut off power in California. This map shows areas without power and areas being monitored for possible shut-off.

If you are worried about wildfires in California you might like the Every Building's Wildfire Risk in California interactive map. This map colors every building in California based on a modeled risk of wildfire. The map does't include a FAQ so I'm not exactly sure how fire-risk has been modeled but the map does provide links to the sources for the data used in this modelling.

Obviously the map only provides a general risk from wildfire. That risk is not calculated based on the current weather conditions or the existence of currently burning nearby wildfires. For the latest up-to-date information on wildfires in California you should refer to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

Mapping US Auto Emissions

The New York Times has mapped out the CO2 emissions of roads across the United States. CO2 emissions in the US have been on the rise since 2013. Much of this rise has been in and around cities.

The Most Detailed Map of Auto Emissions in America shows the CO2 emissions for 2017. If you click on a metro area on the map you can view how much emissions have risen in total since 1990 and how much emissions have risen per person (or decreased). The data for the map comes from Boston University’s Database of Road Transportation Emissions.

Below the interactive map is a graph showing the levels of CO2 road emissions in the most polluting metro areas from 1990-2017. This graph shows that emissions are rising across the United States. The graph also allows you to see which areas are producing the most CO2 emissions. New York tops this list, followed by LA and Dallas-Fort Worth. As you progress through the article this graph flips from showing the total levels of CO2 emissions in each area to a population adjusted view. By per capita emissions New York is actually one of the lowest polluters of all metro areas on the graph.

Chronological Maps with Flourish

Flourish, the data visualization studio, has released a new interactive mapping format which allows you to show geographical data changing over time.

The new Point Map template allows you to show points on a map over time, either by rate or cumulatively. Using the template you can show events occurring over time as points on an interactive map, which can be scaled and colored based on the data. Flourish's introductory blog post on the new template, Visualize large geographic datasets with the “Point map” template, has an example map which shows AirBnB bookings made in London over the summer of 2018.

Flourish has also created another demo of the Point Map template showing the jaw-droppping rise of AirBnB in Istanbul. This interactive map shows the rise of AirBnB properties in the Turkish capital over recent years. One of the big selling points of Point Map is that you don't need to do any coding and can easily set up a map if you have a spreadsheet of time based location data. Another useful feature in the Point Map template is that you can zoom and pan the map to easily pick out features in the data in a story map format. You can see this in action on the demo maps by simply clicking on the forward and back buttons above the maps.

You can also show geographical data changing over time using Carto's Torque library. Torque is a JavaScript library for animating data on an interactive map. Torque does require you to be able to code. However because of this it does give you more control over how you wish to present and visualize your time based geographical data than Flourish's new Point Map template.

In Search of Station Street

In Medieval Streets and Modern Roads I hypothesized a theory that in England we largely stopped using the suffix 'Street' when naming our roads around 1800. Before the late Fifteenth Century the word 'Road' was never used for street names in England because this sense of the word only emerged in the late Sixteenth Century. Before the Sixteenth Century lots of roads were called 'Street'.

My theory was that since the word 'Road' came into use after the Seventeenth Century the word 'Street' largely went out of fashion when naming new roads. In Medieval Streets and Modern Roads I gave the example of Bournemouth. The town of Bournemouth, on the south coast, was founded in 1810 by Lewis Tregonwell. Before the town was built the area was mostly deserted heathland with very few existing roads. A search for roads called 'Street' in Bournemouth returns only one result - 'Orchard Street'. So in this town, built entirely after 1800, there is only one road called 'Street'. In Bournemouth there are lots of streets named 'Road'.

However one example is not enough to confirm my argument. I have therefore been wondering ever since about how else I could test my theory. This weekend I suddenly struck upon the idea of searching for Station Roads and Station Streets. The first railway station in the world was built in 1807. Therefore it is unlikely that there were many 'Station Roads' or 'Station Streets' before this time. If my theory that the word 'Street' went out of fashion around 1800 is actually correct we should find very few Stations Streets and many more Station Roads.

I therefore used Overpass Turbo to query OpenStreetMap for roads in England called 'Station Road' and 'Station Street'. Here's how the query for Station Street is formed

way(area.boundaryarea) ["name"~"Station Street"];
// print results
out body;
out skel qt;

From my search I found that in England there are 5,565 streets called 'Station Road' and only 181 roads named 'Station Street'. So for every 'Station Street' in England there are over 300 Station Roads.

My theory was looking very good!

Today I thought of another way I could test my theory. In England we do like to name places for our royal family. During and immediately after the reign of Queen Victoria (1807-1901) a lot of roads were named for Victoria and Albert. If my theory is right then there should be lots of Victoria Roads and lots of Albert Roads and very few Victoria Streets and Albert Streets.

I turned once again to Overpass Turbo. My search of OpenStreetMap data found 1,022 Victoria Roads and 598 Victoria Streets. So Queen Victoria appears to debunk my theory. While there are significantly more Victoria Roads than Victoria Streets there are still a large proportion of roads named 'Street'. In this case the word 'Street' doesn't appear to have gone significantly out of fashion after 1800. The result is even closer for roads named for Albert. There are 498 Albert Roads and 341 Albert Streets in England.

So my theory no longer looks so good.

However I haven't completely given up on the idea. Even the roads named for Victoria & Albert show that 'Road' was used more than 'Street' for these roads. I also wonder whether a lot of these roads named 'Victoria Street' and 'Albert Street' may have been old existing pre-1800 roads which simply had their names changed from 'Something Street' to 'Victoria' or 'Albert' Street. I therefore need some more ideas about how I can test my theory

To be continued ... (probably)

Thursday, October 10, 2019

Extreme Earth

The Globe of Extremes is an interactive 3D globe which pinpoints some of the most extreme places on Earth. Give the globe a spin and you can discover some fascinating facts about planet Earth. If you click on the orange markers on the globe you will learn about the most distant point from land, the altitude with the highest permanent human settlement and who was the first person to reach the lowest point on Earth.

If you want to discover how to make an extreme 3D globe then you need An interactive 3D globe of extremes - a DIY mapping guide. This step-by-step tutorial shows you how to use the ArcGIS API for JavaScript to create an interactive 3D globe just like the Globe of Extremes. Each step in the tutorial has its own commit on GitHub (so its very easy to cheat if you want). Among other things the guide shows you how to add a custom background to your globe, how to add exaggerated terrain and how to add clouds.

The tutorial also explains how you can add data to your own 3D globe using a GeoJSON layer. This means that it is very easy to update the 3D globe so that it displays your very own geographical data.