Saturday, November 17, 2018

California Air Pollution & Smoke Maps



The EPA has published a handy guide which provides advice on how you can minimize your risk from smoke and air pollution in California. Fire and Your Health suggests that you avoid the smoke as much as possible. If recommended you should stay indoors, run your air conditioner (if you have one), and pay attention to local air quality reports.

The Environmental Protection Agency's AirNow website has a map of the USA showing the latest Air Quality Index scores across the whole country. The map shows that huge areas of the state are currently experiencing dangerous levels of air pollution. However the static map is a little hard to read. You should therefore refer to the Current Air Quality Index (AQI) Conditions for Californian Cities which provides a list of the latest AQI ratings for all the major urban centers in California.


The New York Time's Tracking the Dangerous Smoke Plume map uses the latest estimates of surface-level smoke from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The map is being updated every six hours. You can view the same surface-level smoke estimates on NOAA's interactive map, NOAA HDRR Smoke. NOAA's map also allows you to view the latest vertically integrated smoke forecasts and fire detection data.

NASA's Earth Observatory has released an animated map showing how black carbon from the Camp Fire has been moving across Northern California. In Camp Fire Spreads Foul Air in California NASA explains that black carbon is particularly harmful as the particles in black carbon are small enough to enter the lungs and bloodstream.

Thursday, November 15, 2018

How Big Are California's Fires?


NBC News has released an interactive map which allows you to compare the size of California's wildfires with the size of your home town. California's wildfires are as big as 16 Manhattans allows you to overlay the outline of the Camp Fire, the Woolsey Fire or the Hill Fire on top of any other location on a Leaflet powered map.

If you enter a location into NBC's map you can see the outline of any of the three California wildfires overlaid on top of the entered location. The map also informs you of the size of the selected fire, the size of the entered town and how many times bigger (or smaller) the fire is than the chosen location.  According to NBC News yesterday the Camp Fire was the size of 88,000 football fields or around eight Manhattans.

3D Zurich


A 3D city model is available from Open Data Zurich. This model allows you to add 3D buildings to your interactive maps of Zurich.

You can see the 3D buildings in action on an interactive map on this codepen example, which loads the 3D building layer into an Esri map. Once the 3D building layer loads onto the map you can zoom in and out and rotate around the city's buildings. If you select one of the three 3D building layer models listed on Open Data Zurich you can view which formats the model is available in (including an Esri file).


If you enjoy exploring Swiss cities in 3D then you might also like Geneve 1850. In the nineteenth century Swiss architect Auguste Magnin created an amazing 3d model of the walled city of Geneva. You can visit the model at the Maison Tavel in Geneva. If you can't visit the model in person you can still explore the 3D interactive map version of Geneve 1850 instead.

Geneve 1850 is an epic online interactive model of 1850's Geneva. The map allows you to immerse yourself in and explore Geneva as it looked in the mid-nineteenth century. You can explore the city at street level, wandering around old Geneva on the ground. Alternatively you can take a bird's eye view tour of the city, flying a few feet above the city's rooftops. A menu provides a long list of important landmarks in the city which allows you to quickly navigate to different places in the city. Information points on the map also allow you to read about the history of the city's most iconic buildings.

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Drowning American Homes


In the year 2050 the island of New Orleans will introduce a new twice daily ferry service carrying passengers across the Pontchartrain Sea between the island city and the mainland port at Baton Rouge. In the year 2060 the island will rename itself New Venice.

From the year 2100 the city will be colloquially remembered as New Atlantis.

Climate Central and Zillow have released a new study exploring the risk to new homes from rising seas. At the moment property developers are largely ignoring the threat of global warming and continue to build on areas that in the future will be at risk from flooding. Ocean at the Door claims that 10,000 new homes (built after 2009) will be at risk of flooding every single year by the year 2050.

Buzzfeed News has created an interactive map which visualizes how the USA could be affected by rising seas in the year 2050. If you enter an address into the map you can view a visualization of where the sea level might be under different climate change models. The Is Your Home at Risk of Flooding map also allows you to see how many local homes are at risk of flooding. If you click on the map you can find out how many local homes have been built in flood risk zones since 2010, how many local homes are at risk of flooding and the combined value of all these homes at risk of flooding.

Preventable Health Risks in the USA


Smoking, Obesity & Drinking is an Esri story map which visualizes the rates of three preventable health risk factors at the county level in the USA. It includes choropleth maps which reveal the rates of smoking, obesity and excessive drinking in every American county. Smoking, Obesity and Drinking is also a consummate lesson in how the story map format can be used to lead the user by the hand through complex visualizations of data.

Smoking, Obesity & Drinking uses bivariate (and trivariate) maps to try to examine the relationships between smoking, obesity & excessive drinking. Bivariate maps are used in the story map to identify areas where two or more of these three health risk factors might be anomalously high (or low). One disadvantage of bivariate maps is that they can be difficult to read. The wider range of colors representing combined values introduces more complexity, especially when compared to more simple single variable choropleth maps. However the Smoking, Obesity and Drinking story map overcomes any confusion that these bivariate maps might cause by first walking the user through each of the three health risk factors individually, each on their own single variable choropleth maps.

Not only does Smoking, Obesity & Drinking explore each of these three risk factors separately on its own choropleth map it also singles out and highlights those counties in which these factors are especially prevalent. Therefore when the bivariate maps are introduced the user has already been led through how to read much of the data. The story map also then proceeds to lead the user through the anomalous joint health risk factors revealed by the bivariate maps themselves.

In its conclusion Smoking, Obesity & Drinking introduces yet another degree of complexity by attempting to show all three health factors on one trivariate map. To try to make this trivriate map legible three foundational color hues are used to represent each of the three health risk factors. Even so it is still nearly impossible to create a comprehensible legend in a two dimensional space explaining the full range of values represented by the mixing of these three colors. Smoking, Obesity & Drinking overcomes this final problem with the clever solution of annotating the map itself, explaining some of the regional hues revealed on the trivariate map of American preventable health risks.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

California Wildfire Damage Map


The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection has released an interactive map showing which buildings have been destroyed or damaged by the Camp Fire. The Camp Fire Structure Status map plots the latest field damage inspection reports for buildings in areas affected by the Camp Fire.

The map uses different colored icons to indicate the scale of fire damage to individual buildings. The red markers indicate buildings which have been over 50% destroyed. The black buildings are those which are lucky enough to have suffered no visible damage. The map is only a preliminary assessment of the fire damage caused by the Camp Fire. The map will be updated as fire inspections continue. Currently Cal Fire estimate that 6,522 residences and 260 commercial properties have been destroyed by the Camp Fire.

You can find a link to the Cal Fire evacuation map and the latest incident reports about the Camp Fire at the Cal Fire Camp Fire Incident website.

This Warming Planet


If you want to know what kind of temperatures you can expect from global warming then you might want to check out this new interactive map. Bread for the World's August 28, 2100 is a map showing the predicted temperatures around the world up to the year 2100.

If you mouse-over any location on the map you can view the near surface air temperature for that location as predicted by NASA. A dynamic graph running along the bottom of the map will also show you the predicted temperatures at your selected location for every year until the end of this century.

The map shows near surface air temperatures around the globe for 1950, 2017 and 2100. The data comes from NASA's Earth Exchange Global Daily Downscaled Projections which predicts daily temperatures across the globe until the year 2100. If you are interested in how this data was mapped then you should read Visualizing Near Surface Air Temperature, a blog post written by one of the map developers.

August 28, 2100 is just the latest in a number of maps which visualize the environmental conditions we can expect in the year 2100. You might also be interested in:

Air Pollution in 2100 - air pollution predictions for the year 2100
Climate Impact Map - mapping rising temperatures around the world over the rest of this century
Heatwaves: Number of deadly heat days - predicted extreme heat events from now until 2100
Sea Level Rise Viewer - NOAA's sea level rise prediction until the year 2100

Shadow Mapping


Septima Skyggekort is an interactive map which visualizes the shadows cast by Denmark's buildings at any hour of the day and for any day of the year.

The map was created using the OpenLayers mapping library using height data from Styrelsen for DataForsyning og Effektivisering, the public data agency of the Danish government. The height data appears to come from a Lidar survey of the whole of Denmark. This means that you can use the map to view the length and positions of shadows for any building and for any tree in the whole country. Just use the two slider controls on the map to select the day of the year and the time of the day you wish to see visualized on the map.


Norway's The Shadow Visualization Demo is another impressive demonstration which shows dynamic shadows on an interactive map. This map uses digital terrain model data and building height data from OpenStreetMap. Because the map knows the height of the terrain this map not only shows the shadows of buildings but the shadows cast by hills and mountains as well.

Again you can use the slide controls to select any time of day and any day of the year.


In New York you can use the New York Times' Mapping the Shadows of New York City interactive map to visualize the shadows cast by the city's famous sky scrapers (and all of its other buildings as well.)

The Times says that most Manhattan neighborhoods will remain in shadow for at least half of all daylight hours. They also claim that the amount of time a location spends in shadow during daylight hours can affect everything from apartment rental prices to the flow of foot traffic on the city's streets.

The map uses building height data provided by the city. With the help of the Tandon School of Engineering at New York University the NYT used this height data to calculate the total number of minutes that a given point spends in shadow over the course of a day.

If you are interested in creating your own shadow map then you might be interested in SunCalc.js, a javascript library for calculating the position of the sun.

Monday, November 12, 2018

Mapping California's Wildfires


NASA's Earth Observatory has published two satellite images of the California wildfires captured by its Landsat 8 satellite. Camp Fire Rages in California includes images of the Camp Fire (shown above) captured on November 8th. The article also includes a more zoomed out image which shows the smoke from both the Camp Fire and the Hill & Woolsey fires spreading out into the Pacific.


Yesterday the New York Times mapped out how the Camp Fire and the Woolsey fire have been spreading. The NYT's Tracking Where the Fires Are Spreading includes two mapped visualizations of each fire.


The Times has overlain the fire footprint of each fire on top of a Google Map. These fire footprints are colored to show the new areas that the fires reached yesterday (colored red) and the areas previously burned. For both the Camp fire and the Woolsey fire the Times has also created a footprint comparison visualization. These comparisons place three footprints of each fire in a sequence showing how the fires have grown over the previous three days.

If you want the latest news about California's wildfires then you might be interested in Esri's Smoke from Wildfires map which shows the National Weather Service smoke forecast for the next 48 hours. Esri has also released a special California Wildfires Map which is providing near real-time information about the traffic conditions on the state's major roads. This map also contains the fire perimeters of active fires and fire reports from the National Interagency Fire Center.

The San Francisco Chronicle's California Fire Tracker map provides information on all the wildfires currently burning across California. The map shows fire perimeters and the latest air pollution particulate reading from the smoke. The map also has links to the newspaper's latest news on all the fires and to their fire disaster guide.

The Map of Meaning


Jordan Peterson's Maps of Meaning: The Architecture of Belief explores how humans and culture's construct meaning. Fernando Bresciano has been so inspired by Paterson's ideas that he has attempted to illustrate some of these theories in his own illustrated Land of Meaning. The Land of Meaning is an illustrated map of some of the archetypal meanings which can be found in life, in legends and in myths. It can even be used to explore the spiritual journeys which were undertaken by religious leaders, such as Christ and Buddha.

The Land of Meaning includes a story map feature which takes you on a guided tour of the various mapped archetypal explanations. This is a great way to introduce yourself to the ideas illustrated in this map of meaning. If you use the forward and back arrows you can navigate step-by-step through each of the archetypal meanings shown on the map. An information window opens to provide a brief explanation of the mythical archetype which is illustrated at this point on the map. You can also open these explanations simply by selecting the information markers on the map.

The map also contains a number of journeys or paths through the Land of Meaning which have been taken by historical or religious figures. It also includes the plot paths taken by well known myths or fairy tales. If you open the 'Myths' section in the map menu you can select from a number of individuals (including Jesus and Buddha) or from some well known mythical & nursery tales. Choose one of these individuals or stories and a path will appear on the map. This path attempts to show how the selected individual's life or story's plot follows a path through some of the archetypal meanings illustrated on the Land of Meaning.

The Land of Meaning can also help to explain the world's main political belief systems using Paterson's Maps of Meaning. Open the 'Ideologies' section in the map menu and a map of ideologies will be overlain on top of the Land of Meaning. This overlay maps where different political ideologies sit on the Land of Meaning and attempts to explain each ideology's core beliefs in terms of the archetypal meanings illustrated on the map.