Wednesday, June 26, 2019

The Pacific Ring of Fire

More than 75% of the world's volcanoes and around 90% of earthquakes occur in and around the basin of the Pacific Ocean. This area is commonly called the Ring of Fire. The reason for all this  seismic activity in the Ring of Fire is the presence of converging tectonic plates.

The Ring of Fire can be clearly seen in ResourceWatch's Global Earthquake Hazard Frequency and Distribution map. This interactive map visualizes all earthquake activity around the world, from 1976 to 2002, exceeding 4.5 on the Richter scale. The map shows that there was a lot of seismic activity on both sides of the Pacific Ocean during this period.

The Pacific Ring of Fire can also be clearly seen on John Nelson's Seismic Illumination. This map uses historical earthquake data going back to 1898 to show how earthquake activity can reveal the Earth's tectonic plates. By concentrating on the Pacific Ring of Fire the map is able to show how continental drift causes seismic activity where the Earth's tectonic plates grind beneath each other.

This converging of tectonic plates can also cause volcanoes. National Geographics' How Volcanoes Threaten Millions is a fascinating exploration of the active volcanoes found around the 25,000-mile-long Ring of Fire. The article includes an animated illustration of how tectonic plates collide and create volcanoes.

The article also includes a beautiful exaggerated relief map of the volcanoes and the population centers they threaten in Indonesia. None of these volcanoes are actually in National Geographic's list of the top six life threatening volcanoes on the Ring of Fire. This list maps and names the six volcanoes that National Geographic believe are most likely to threaten humans. For each of these volcanoes the magazine gives its last eruption date and the number of people who live within 60 miles of the volcano.

Will it Rain on Independence Day?

If you have outdoor plans for this year's Fourth of July then you might want to consider the odds of it raining on your parade. Luckily the NOAA has developed a handy interactive map which can actually show you the chance of rain on Independence Day.

Will it Rain on Your Parade uses historical weather records to estimate the odds of rain across the country on the Fourth of July. According to NOAA Hawaii is the most likely location to witness rain. In fact the western slopes have over a 50% chance of rain based on the historical weather records from 1981 to 2010. In the contiguous United States the highest chances of rain are in southern Florida with a 40-50% chance of precipitation. If you wish to avoid the rain you should head to California or Nevada. No location in either of these two states has more than a 10% chance of precipitation.

You may remember the NOAA from such maps as the First Snow Map, an interactive map showing the historic date of the first snow of winter.

How Big is Glastonbury?

The Glastonbury music festival begins today. Two million people pre-registered to buy a ticket for this year's event and, when the tickets did go on sale, the 135,000 tickets sold out in 35 minutes.

135,000 is a lot of people but that number doesn't even come close to the 3.3 million (aggregate) people who attend Donauinselfest in Vienna every year or the 2 million who attend Mawazine in Morocco. The BBC and Statista both agree that Donauinselfest and Mawazine are the two biggest music festivals in the world based on aggregate attendance (although they disagree about which one of the two is actually the largest).

In terms of physical size the Glastonbury site is around 900 acres. If you have difficulty in envisioning how big 900 acres actually is then you can use the Glastonbury Map Overlay to compare an outline of the festival site with any location in the world. If you enter an address into the Glastonbury Map Overlay you can view a polygon of the music festival site overlaid on top of that location.

If you like the Glastonbury map comparison tool then you might also like these other map comparison tools:

Ocean Plastics Pollution - allows you to compare the size of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch with locations across the world
The True Size Of - a map for comparing the size of countries around the globe

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

The State of U.S. Housing 2019

The Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies has released its 2019 report into the State of the Nation's Housing. It has also released four interactive maps illustrating some of the report's findings.

Among some of the center's key findings on the state of housing in the United States are; rising land prices, large regional differences in housing affordability and the decline of low-rent stock. Despite these pressures on housing the center also found that the share of US households paying more than 30% of their income on housing has declined for the seventh year in a row (in 2017). These four findings can be explored in more detail on the center's interactive maps.

The Burdened by Housing Costs (2017) map shows the percentage of households in each county who pay more than 30% of their income on housing. The map allows you to view the percentage of homeowners and renters burdened by housing costs separately. Comparing these two views reveals that renters are far more affected by relatively high housing costs than homeowners. In fact, although the numbers burdened by housing costs have declined overall, the numbers of renters burdened with housing costs continues to rise.

One reason why the numbers of renters burdened by housing costs are increasing is because the low-rent stock in most metro areas has declined since 2011. You can see how much low-rent stock has declined across the country on the Low-Stock Decline interactive map. This map shows the percentage change in the number of rental units below $800 in different metro areas.

The other two interactive maps, the Rise in Residential Land Prices and the Housing Affordability map show some of the pressures on housing affordability. Both maps show large variations in land prices and housing affordability in different regions. Both land price and housing affordability pressures are incredibly high in California, compared to many other regions of the United States.

The Democratic Candidates on Google Trends

Flourish has mapped out the Top searched Democratic debate candidates on Google during 2019. The Flourish interactive map shows the most searched candidate in each U.S. state from a list of 20 candidates.

It is important to remember that this is a map showing the most searched Democratic debate candidate in each state. Being the most searched candidate doesn't equate to being the most supported. However the map is still interesting in showing where individual candidates are having the most impact.

The map shows that there are some clear geographical patterns in the number of searches for individual candidates. For example Beto O'Rourke is by far the most searched Democrat in his home state of Texas. Similarly Kamala Harris is the most searched candidate in many counties in her home state of California.

Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders appear to be the most searched candidates in the most counties. Let's take a closer look at where more people are searching for Biden and where more people are searching for Sanders.

We can use Google Trends to compare just Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders over the same period (Jan - June 2019). We can then see which of these candidates is the most searched in each metro area. This map shows that Biden is being searched more in parts of the Midwest and the South. Bernie Sanders is searched more in the West and the North East.

Google Trends also allows us to chart the number of searches for each candidate over time. This chart reveals a huge spike for Bernie Sanders in February, when he announced his intention to run in 2020. Joe Biden announced his candidacy in late April and received a similar spike in searches on Google. After that spike his number of searches leveled out at around the same level as Bernie Sanders, although Biden has been searched more in the last few weeks than Sanders.

FiveThirtyEight are tracking how each of the candidates are performing in all the opinion polls. In their average poll of polls on June 19th Joe Biden was on 31.1% support and Bernie Sanders was on 15.7%.

How Green is Your City

Jena is the greenest city in Germany. Berlin ranks as the 21st greenest German city and Munich comes in at number 16 in the list of the country's most green cities.

In the recent elections for the European parliament the Green Party were the second most popular party. The party more than doubled its number of seats by winning twenty-one. The Berliner Morgenpost has been wondering if the areas which voted in the highest numbers for the Green party are also the most green in terms of lifestyle. It has therefore created a number of interactive maps to measure how green each municipality is in a number of different areas.

The maps in Where Germany is Really Green visualize a number of different 'green' categories. These include the percentage of electric cars, the amount of garbage produced, the share of green energy and the percentage of bicycle use. For each of these areas it has created a choropleth map showing the levels in each municipality and the top three green cities judged by the mapped measure.

Using each municipality's results for each measure the Berliner Morgenpost has been able to rank all German municipalities based on their combined scores. Readers can enter the name of their town or city to see where they rank among all German municipalities. As well as discovering a city's overall rank you can also see how they score in each of the different individual areas.

Monday, June 24, 2019

Here's New 3D Vector Mapping Library

HERE, the mapping and location data company, has released a new open source 3D web mapping library called The library is built on WebGL and three.js so it should work particularly well for 3D data visualizations and map animations.

If you want to see some maps created with then check out the examples section of the website. This examples section includes working maps and the source code for those maps. The examples include an animated three.js object dancing on top of an interactive map. The examples also include some more traditional demos, showing how to use different map tile providers and how to create 3D globes with

If you want to start building maps with then you will also want to check out the documentation and tutorial. In the coming months HERE will be releasing new features for These will include the ability to easily add 3D models from HERE, 3D terrain and cinematic effects, such as depth of field.

Search the World

Once upon a time Google Maps had a Wikipedia layer. If you opened this layer on Google Maps you could discover all the places around you which had a Wikipedia entry. The layer was a fantastic way to learn about all the interesting things around your current location. It was definitely one of the most  useful functions on Google Maps. So Google got rid of it.

Luckily there are a few other interactive maps which can help you learn more about the world around you.

Open up Wiki Atlas and you can immediately view all the places around you which have a Wikipedia entry. Click on any of the mapped links and you can read the entry directly from the map. All the locations with a Wikipedia entry are shown with a 3D tower. The height of the tower relates to how often the entry is viewed on Wikipedia. Therefore the height of these towers can provide a rough guide to the relative importance of all the points of interest around your current location.

Wiki Atlas has a handy search function which allows you to filter the results shown on the map by subject. If you want to find and learn more about nearby parks you can just enter 'parks' and the map will only show you nearby entries which refer to parks.

Geopedia is another interesting way to discover information about places in the world. Like Wiki Atlas Geopedia can be used to find and read Wikipedia entries about points of interest around any location. Geopedia uses the Wikipedia API to load all the Wikipedia entries for places around a location on an OpenStreetMap based map. Enter a location into the search bar or right-click on the map and markers will show all the Wikipedia entries near your chosen location.

If you want to discover more about nearby points of interest then you can also use Wikimapia. Wikimapia is one of the most successful interactive maps of all time. For over ten years Wikimapia has provided a great map based resource for discovering information about locations and points of interest around the world.

In essence Wikimapia is a website which lets you describe locations in the same way that Wikipedia allows you to add and edit articles in its wiki database. Like Wikipedia it provides an invaluable resource for researching and discovering information about the world - only with Wikimapia every entry is a real-world location.

To use Wikimapia you just need to search for a location on the map. and click on any of the highlighted areas to discover information about the selected location. For example, if you see an interesting looking building on your daily travels, you just need to click on the building on the Wikimapia map to read its Wikimapia wiki entry.

Inequality in the UK

The UK 2070 Commission is an independent inquiry examining regional inequality in the UK. In order to make recommendations into how the UK economy can be rebalanced the commission has been exploring the economic health of UK cities and regions. Some of these findings can be viewed in two interactive maps.

The Temporal Clusters map classifies urban areas into one of eight different neighbourhood types. These classifications were determined by using census data dating back to 1971. On the map you can view the classifications for each decade since 1971. You can therefore use the map to explore how inequality has changed over the last five decades.

One striking change which is very apparent on the Temporal Clusters map is how the number of families in council rent has dramatically fallen from 1971 to 2011. This is a result of the failure to invest the money raised from selling council homes in the 1980's & 1990's into new public housing stock. The result has been a stark lack of affordable housing in many UK cities and towns.

By mapping the census data for over 50 years the UK2070 Commission are able to determine how neighborhoods have changed economically during the last half of a century. The Neighbourhood Trajectories interactive map colors neighborhoods based on one of  eight categories. On this map it is striking how many inner city areas, especially in the north, are categorized as 'increasing struggling home-owners'. These neighbourhoods are defined as "areas transitioning from families in council rent to a struggling type".

It seems clear to me that the lack of affordable social housing in cities and towns is contributing hugely to the growing inequality of the UK. If you want to more clearly see which areas in the UK have moved from being areas with 'families in council rent' to 'struggling home-owners' filter the Neighbourhood Trajectories map to just show the 'increasing struggling home-owners' layer.

Via: the Carto Blog

Sunday, June 23, 2019

Can You Name These Islands?

Can you name the eight islands in the image above?

I think this Sunday's map challenge is a little difficult so I'm going to tell you which islands are pictured. You just have to guess which is which. The answers are given at the bottom of this post. The islands are (in alphabetical order): Cuba, Great Britain, Greenland, Honshu, Iceland, Ireland, Java and Sri Lanka.

The islands are not to scale!

This map challenge was inspired by Visual Capitalist's much prettier infographic Visualizing 100 of the World's Biggest Islands.

Answers (select text below to reveal)

Great Britain, Greenland, Iceland

Cuba, Java

Sri Lanka, Honshu, Ireland

If you enjoyed this week's map challenge then you might want to see if you can:

Name the City from its Road Network
Guess the Airport from its Map
Name the Country From its Rail Network