Saturday, October 19, 2019

Weather Forecast - 120,000,000 BC

Cameron Beccario's earth animated wind map library is a fantastic way to visualize weather conditions around the globe. The library is most often used to map wind, ocean and atmospheric conditions in real-time. It has now also been used to map the climate 120 million years ago, in the Early Cretaceous.

During the Early Cretaceous or the Lower Cretaceous the Earth had a very different climate to what it has now. In particluar atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations were above the levels they are today. The period was also characterized by the ongoing breakup of the super-continent Pangea. The kcm-earth 3d globe applies the Kiel Climate Model to the Earth as it looked in the Early Cretaceous. The globe presents the continents as they looked 120 million years ago and animates the modeled ocean and atmospheric conditions.

kcm-earth was created by Sebastian Steinig as part of his PhD project. You can read a little more about the project on his page on Geomar.

The super-continent of Pangea existed during the late Paleozoic and early Mesozoic eras, before it began to break apart about 175 million years ago. Of course there weren't any country borders on Pangea. By some estimates, however, the land mass that is now North America was attached to North West Africa. Therefore what is now the United States would perhaps have shared a border with what is now Morocco.

Pangaea Politica by Massimo Pietrobon is a rather fanciful map which overlays modern country borders on a map of Pangea. The map is at best a guesstimate of where modern countries might have been on Pangea. There are some obvious errors, for example the map includes the country of Iceland, a volcanic island which didn't exist when Pangea was around. However it is still quite good fun to imagine which modern countries might share borders today if Pangea had never broken apart.

Friday, October 18, 2019

The Modern Plague of London

The Modern Plague of London is a map showing the density of pubs in central London. On this map the number of pubs in each kilometer square is represented by the size of the yellow circles. The more pubs there are in a square kilometer then the larger the size of the yellow circle.

The areas with the most pubs are mostly found in Westminster and the City of London. On the 16 x 7 square kilometers shown on the map (112 circles) there are only 9 circles where there are absolutely no pubs. The two most central of these circles are both nearly completely contained within parks (Regents Park and Hyde Park). There are two circles which both contain no pubs in south-east London in South Bermondsey. Four of the other circles containing no pubs are found at the extreme eastern column of circles on the map. These circles are all in close proximity to the vertical population desert created by the Blackwall Tunnel Approach Road and the River Lea in London's East End.

The title of my map, The Modern Plague of London', was stolen completely from an 1886 map created by the National Temperance Publication Depot. The original Modern Plague of London map was a dot map showing the locations of all the pubs in London in 1886. The original map doesn't extend as far east as my more modern version of the map. So we can't see if there were any pubs along the River Lee in 1886. However the area in South Bermondsey which now has no pubs can be seen on the original map. In 1886 this area did have one or two pubs but was an area mostly covered by a large railway junction - which is presumably why historically there have been very few pubs located in this area.

Most areas of London now have far fewer pubs than they did in 1886. On the whole though I think it is most striking how many pubs have disappeared from London's East End. Huge areas of Tower Hamlets now have very few pubs. If you had walked through these areas in the Nineteenth Century you couldn't have walked very far in any direction without passing a number of pubs. In 2011, in the last UK census, 38% of Tower Hamlets residents said they were Muslim. Obviously having a large percentage of the population who don't drink alcohol has had an effect on the number of pubs which have been able to survive in the borough.

The only reason I didn't create a dot map of pubs in London, like the original Modern Plague of London map, was because I was inspired by Jennifer Bell's recent blog post on Wurman Dots. Rachel's post looks at the maps created by Richard Saul Wurman in the 1960's. These maps show  density by the size of the fills in circles. Inspired by Bell's post I wanted to try my hand at creating a Wurman Dot map.

Strictly speaking circles are probably not the best choice for visualizing the pub data. The circles kind of imply that the areas in between the circles are not covered and that any pubs in between the circles are not included (which they are). Obviously squares or hexagons do not have this problem as they leave no gaps on the map. However there is something very striking about Wurman Dots - which makes a particularly appealing visualization of the data (at least to my eye).

Thursday, October 17, 2019

The Polish Imperial Election

On Sunday Poland held a national election. The right-wing Law and Justice Party (PiS) won a majority in the lower house of parliament (the Sejm), but lost its majority in the upper house (the Senate) to the opposition.

Before looking at the maps of this week's election in Poland I want to show you a map of how modern day Poland looked in the Nineteenth Century:

The Partitions of Poland 1815–1918 (from Lessons from the Partitions of Poland)

In August, 1772, Russia, Prussia, and Austria signed a treaty that partitioned Poland. Poland only regained its independence as the Second Polish Republic in 1918 after World War I. The borders that divided Poland during the Nineteenth Century disappeared over 100 years ago. Except on the country's election maps.

Here are the results of this week's elections for the winning Law and Justice Party (left) and the second placed Civic Coalition Party (right).

October 2019 Polish Election (from WBData)

These choropleth maps show the levels of support for the two main parties in each electoral ward in Poland. However they also seem to show that Poland is still divided along the lines of the old Imperial borders. At least politically.

The ruling right-wing Law and Justice Party was clearly most popular in the areas of Poland which were part of Prussia and Austria during the Nineteenth Century partition of the country. The Civic Coalition Party won most of its votes in the area which was held by Prussia before the First World War.

This split in voting patterns along the lines of the old Imperial borders is nothing new. Back in 2013 Irena Grosfeld and Ekaterina Zhuravskaya wrote about how the spatial pattern in the 2007 election in Poland was "determined, to a large extent, by the Partitions of Poland (1772-1918)". In The Past in the Polish Present the two professors argue that the very different economic and social policies which were followed by Russia, Prussia, and Austria in Poland for over a century have had a persistent legacy in Poland. This legacy appears to have been very apparent in this week's Polish election.

Of course the economic and cultural effects of borders can be very long lasting. For example Germany still shows the effects of being split in two after World War II. Back in 2014 Zeit Online, in German Unification: A Nation Divided, explored how this split still 'remains visible in statistics'. Twenty Five years after the fall of the Berlin Wall the paper published German maps of average income, the average age, the number of children in day care and in many other areas. In nearly all of these maps you can clearly see that there is a marked difference in the economic performance of the former East Germany to that of West Germany.

Of course the 100 year legacy of the partitioned Poland is on another order of magnitude to the 30 years that have passed since the Berlin Wall came down. Mind you the partitioned Poland lasted for four times as long as the partitioned Germany. Is it therefore so surprising that its effects can still be seen in the cultural, economic and political landscape of modern day Poland?

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Mapping California's Poisoned Wells

California state regulators have tested 600 wells across the state for toxic chemicals. The Los Angeles Times has created an interactive map which allow you to view the safety of the water in each well. Twenty-four of the wells now have a health advisory.

Hundreds of wells are contaminated across California. Find out where uses colored markers to highlight the wells where dangerous chemicals were detected, where no chemicals were detected and where a health advisory has been issued for the well. If you hover over a well on the map you can view the levels of PFOS and PFOA detected in the well (if any). The EPA has established health advisory levels at 70 parts per trillion for PFOS and PFOA.

PFOA and PFOS are chemicals which have been used in manufacturing since the 1940's. Both chemicals are very persistent both in the environment and in the human body. They are commonly known as 'forever chemicals'. This means that they don’t break down and their levels can therefore accumulate over time. Exposure to these chemicals can lead to adverse human health effects.

The Environmental Working Group has created a nationwide interactive map of PFC contamination in drinking water.The PFC Contamination Map uses data from the the Environmental Protection Agency to show the level of PFC's found in water supplies at the county level.

You can read more about the dangers of PFC's and the PFC Contamination Map in this EWG article. Many of the highest levels of PFC contamination in groundwater have been found at military sites (often from fire fighting foams containing PFC's). The EWG has also created a list of the 100 U.S. Military Sites With the Worst PFAS Contamination.

Mapping the Natural World

We all rely on nature for our food & water and even for the air that we breathe. These are only some of the most visible benefits that nature provides. The UN’s Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity & Ecosystem Services (IPBES) believe that we all need to better understand the full value of nature in order to ensure that we take every step to protect it for sustainable use.

Stanford University's Natural Capital Project explores some of the contributions which nature makes to people around the world. You can explore some of these contributions on the Nature's Contributions to People Viewer. This 3d globe allows users to see where we are receiving benefits from nature around the world. It also allows us to see where people are likely to lose these vital benefits from nature as ecosystems are negatively impacted by human development projects.

The globe concentrates on three key areas: pollination, water quality and coastal risk. You can select to view any of these key areas from the map menu to view how the area could be affected under different future scenarios. These scenarios show how the flow of these benefits might change in the future around the world. By 2050 around 5 billion people across the globe could be at higher risk of under-pollinated crops, water pollution and coastal storms. The Nature's Contributions to People Viewer allows us to see where these risks might be the greatest in each of these three key areas.

The IPBES's studies into biodiversity and ecosystems reveal that people in developing countries rely more heavily on the benefits of local ecosystems. Going forward these people are most at risk from the detrimental impacts on local ecosystems. The Nature's Contributions to People Viewer can help to identify where these ecosystems are most at risk and help to inform policy makers where sustainable development and conservation is most at need to protect biodiversity and local ecosystems.

Mapping Cuts in School Funding

Next year 83% of schools in England will be worse off than they were in 2015. A new interactive map from the School Cuts coalition allows you to see how your local schools' government funding for next year compares with the funding they received in 2015.

On the map schools are shown using colored map markers. The lighter colored markers indicate where a schools has made a funding gain on 2015 and the darker colors indicate schools which have lost funding. If you click on a school's marker you can view how much funding the school as a whole has gained or lost and how much has been gained or lost for each individual pupil.

The average primary school pupil will receive £245 less in funding next year, when compared to 2015. Secondary school pupils will receive £304 less on average when compared to 2015. When you select a school's marker on the map you can view how much the school has received from the government for every academic year since 2015. You can also see what this represents as per pupil funding for every academic year.

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

2018 Global Terrorist Attacks

The Global Terrorist Database has released its report into global terrorism trends in 2018. There were more than 9,600 terrorist attacks across the globe in 2018. More than 22,980 people were killed in those attacks.

The 2018 GTD report is illustrated with a static map which shows all the terrorist attacks which occurred across the world in 2018. Although the map shows that Iraq still suffered a large number of terrorist attacks, in 2018 the country actually saw a 46% decrease in the number of attacks. From 2013-2017 Iraq suffered more terrorist attacks than any other country. This huge fall of attacks in Iraq has an effect on the total incidence rate of terrorism and in 2018 there was a 43% lower number of terrorism attacks worldwide compared to 2014.

The Global Terrorism Database has data dating back to 1970. You can search the entire database by date, attack type, weapon type, perpetrators, causalities, fatalities and by location. You can also download the data at no cost if you want to use it for personal research purposes.

If you want to view an interactive map of global terrorist attacks in 2018 then you can refer to Esri's Terrorist Attacks map. Esri's map uses crowdsourced data from Wikipedia to map terrorist incidents by date. The map doesn't use the same data as the Global Terrorism database, however the map does show similar hotspots of terrorist activity in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, a number of Central African countries and in Colombia.

All the terrorist attacks on Esri's map are color coded to show the responsible terrorist groups. This map is also not restricted just to attacks from 2018. You can therefore use the date control to view the terrorist attacks around the world for any period since the beginning of 2016.

Parks Boost House Prices

The UK's Office of National Statistics has carried out some interesting data analysis to determine if nearby parks increase house prices and if so by how much. The ONS used data of house prices from real-estate company Zoopla and map data from Ordnance Survey's Open Greenspace to determine if urban houses near parks and other green spaces are more expensive than houses positioned further away from parks.

The ONS data analysis revealed that properties that are very near parks attract a premium, and the more green space nearby, the higher the premium. If you live in England or Wales you can use ONS's Urban Green Spaces interactive map to see how nearby parks and green spaces effect the cost of your property. Enter your postcode into the interactive and you can view a map of your home and all the nearby parks. The interactive will also reveal how much the nearby parks boost the value of your home.

My only word of caution with this map is that some local knowledge might be needed to confirm ONS's analysis of an address. My nearest park is positioned between two high rise tower blocks and is a popular retail outlet for the sale and purchase of recreational drugs. Far from adding nearly £4000 to the price of my house (which is what the ONS claims) the position of the park near my home probably knocks £4000 off its value.

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.