Saturday, March 23, 2019

Global Flight Patterns


Flight paths over New York City

The real-time flight tracking application Plane Finder allows you to follow the real-time location of planes around the world on an interactive map. This month Plane Finder is celebrating its ten year anniversary and to mark the occasion Plane Finder has released a Global Coverage Map.

Plane Finder uses data from a network of ADS-B receivers around the world to map the flights of plane in real-time. The Global Coverage Map uses a week of this data (15th-21st March 2019) to reveal the flight paths taken by planes around the world. One week's worth of data has been merged together and compiled to make this single interactive map.

If you zoom-in on individual cities on the map you can clearly make out traffic into and out of major airports. For example, in the screenshot above of New York you can see John F. Kennedy International Airport, Newark Liberty International Airport and LaGuardia Airport. You can even make out the location of the Statue of Liberty as a small circle on the map. This circle is made from the circular flight paths made by helicopters as they take a sightseeing loop around the statue.


Flight paths over London

In London you can clearly see the two main flight paths taken by planes as they approach Heathrow's two different runways. West of Heathrow planes quickly fan out after take-off depending on their destinations. In the east you can see the single flight path taken by planes as they approach and leave London City Airport and its single runway.

If you don't like flying then you might prefer the World Map of Shipping Traffic. This interactive map reveals the world's major shipping lanes based on AIS shipping data.

Friday, March 22, 2019

The Latitude & Longitude of Population


About 88% of the world's population lives north of the equator. One reason for this is that there is more landmass north of the equator and more water south of the equator. However the north of the planet has only around 68% of the world's landmass. This means that nearly 90% of the world's population is squeezed into the 68% of the world's landmass north of the equator.

You can see where the world's population lives in terms of latitude and longitude on Engaging Data's World Population Distribution by Latitude and Longitude. This map shows the distribution of the world's population as a population grid. The map also includes two buttons which allow you to reorganize the population data. One button redistributes the world's population into a graph showing the population distribution by longitude. The other button organizes the population data into a graph showing the world's population distributed by latitude.


You can also see the distribution of the world's population by longitude and latitude on Andre Andersen's World Population Map. This population density map includes two graphs views which show the distribution of the world's population by latitude and longitude.

Both these maps reveal that a huge percentage of the world's population not only lives north of the equator but also lives in a narrow vertical band east of Delhi and west of China's east coast. That is between longitude 72 E and longitude 123 E. Or in other words a huge percentage of the world's population lives in India and China.

Understanding China's Belt & Road Project


China has spent more than 25 billion dollars on its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). The initiative is designed to create the infrastructure to secure China’s trade routes and energy supplies. It is also being used to increase China's influence in the rest of the world. Kontinentalist has published a great introduction to China's Belt and Road Initiative in the form of an interactive story map.

Understanding the Belt and Road both visualizes the physical infrastructure being built by China and explores the reasons why China is investing so much money in creating these transport links with the rest of the world. The interactive map first displays the six economic corridors that China are developing to connect the super power with Europe, Central Asia, Russia, and the Middle East. Each of these corridors can be selected on the map to learn more about each of the six individual routes. As you progress through the story the interactive map updates to explore the economic reasons behind the Belt and Road Project. To help visualize the economic reasoning behind the project the map is updated to show the population of China's major cities and regional GDP from 2012-2016.

Understanding the Belt and Road includes a number of other data visualizations which look more closely at how China is funding the initiative. In particular Understanding the Belt and Road examines the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, which China is developing to counteract the power of the Bretton Woods institutions of the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, and the Asian Development Bank.

Understanding the Belt and Road also explores the diplomatic partnerships that China is developing with other countries. The interactive map is used to highlight on the map the '16+1 Initiative', China's partnership with 16 Central and Eastern European countries. It also shows how in Asia the 'Lancang-Mekong Cooperation', is building a partnership with all the Mekong countries. The map also explores the partnerships China is developing in the Middle-East and in Africa.

Finally Understanding the Belt and Road looks at some of the issues that China is facing in building such a huge initiative. These problems include territorial disputes where other countries might not be entirely supportive of China building economic corridors on disputed territory. It also explains some of the debt-trap diplomacy that China has used to impose its Belt and Road Initiative on countries which are heavily in debt to China.


You can learn more about the BRI on the Mercator Institute for China Studies' Belt and Road Tracker, an interactive map which shows some of the many BRI projects spanning Asia, the Middle East, Europe and Africa. These projects include huge transport and oil & gas pipeline networks. The map sidebar allows you to show or hide different types of infrastructure project on the map. These include the railroads, ports and gas & oil pipelines which China has already constructed as part of its BRI. It also allows you to view railroads, ports and gas & oil pipelines which China plans to construct in the near future.

In One Belt, One Road the Financial Times also explores some of the construction projects being created by China to transport people and goods around the world. In The five main projects of the Belt and Road Initiative the South China Morning Post explores five huge Chinese infrastructure projects. These include a rail route from China to London, Gwadar Port, a rail route to Iran, the Asian gas pipeline and the Khorgas Gateway.

Britain's Most Expensive Wrong Turn


The UK is obsessed at the moment with the concept of expensive wrong turns. Which is why insurance company Quote Zone has released a thinly veiled attack on Brexit in the form of an interactive map.

The Worst Places in the UK to Take a Wrong Turn purports to be an interactive map visualizing the worst 18 places in Britain to take a wrong turn or miss a junction on a motorway. The map shows the locations of each of these 18 most expensive wrong turns on the motorway network. For each of the 18 turns it also shows the total number of detour miles motorists will end up driving, the time needed to rectify the mistake and how much money the driver will have to pay for the extra fuel use caused by their mistake.

The worst place to take a wrong turn in the UK is on London's orbital motorway, the M25. If a driver misses the southbound exit on the M26 and accidentally ends up on the M25 then they will have to travel for another 18 miles to correct their course, adding 31 minutes onto their journey at a cost of £3.44.

Of course we all know that The Worst Places in the UK to Take a Wrong Turn is a clever metaphorical attack on the Brexit referendum. That wrong turn will cost a little more than £3.44.

Thursday, March 21, 2019

Can We Save the World's Forests?


The Bonn Challenge is asking governments and people around the world to help restore 150 million hectares of forest by 2020 and 350 million hectares by 2030. To help with this effort the World Resources Institute has released an interactive map designed to show where in the world degraded forest lands actually have the potential to be successfully restored.

The Atlas of Forest Landscape Restoration includes a number of different map layers which allow you to see the current levels of forest coverage around the world, the condition of those forests, the human pressure on forest landscapes and where in the world forests have the potential to be restored. The map also includes a layer which allows you to see Bonn Challenge pledges made across the globe. This layer adds a number of markers to the interactive map showing where governments and organisations have pledged to restore degraded forests. You can click on these markers to learn more about the individual projects in different countries around the world.


The World Resources Institute is also one of over 40 global partners who maintain the Global Forest Watch interactive map. Global Forest Watch is an organization dedicated to monitoring and detecting deforestation around the world. Since the year 2000 the world has lost more than 500 million acres of forest. The Global Forest Watch map visualizes current global forest coverage and where forests are being lost.

Global Forest Watch is attempting to establish a global forest monitoring network. The Global Forest Watch interactive map is part of an initiative to provide the tools for anyone to explore forest loss and forest gain across the globe. The map includes a number of layers, including forest cover and loss since 2000, worldwide tree height data, tropical forest carbon stocks and data about global forest use. The map also includes links to forest-related stories. The links to these  stories are embedded on the map at specific locations and the stories include photos, video, and explanatory text.

Revoke Article 50


Since last night over 1 million people in the UK have signed an online petition to "Revoke Article 50 and remain in the EU". Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty sets out how a European Union country might voluntarily leave the union. The number of people who have now signed the Revoke Article 50 petition forces the UK government to consider a parliamentary debate on revoking Article 50 and staying in the EU.

The UK government and parliament website includes an option to view where in the UK people have signed the petition. This interactive Petition Map allows you to view parliamentary constituencies colored by the number of signatories of the petition and by the percentage of constituents who have signed the petition.

You can also view a hex map of the results on ODI Leeds' Hex Map of UK Parliament Petitions website. This map shows each UK constituency as a hexagon. The map colors each constituency's hexagon based on the number of signatories. You can also view each constituency colored by the percentage of the constituents who have signed the petition. While both maps allow you to view the percentage of voters who have signed the petition so far, the hex map obviously has the advantage of not exaggerating the visual influence of the larger rural constituencies.

The Geography of European Drug Taking


Amsterdam is the European capital of ecstasy users. According to an analysis of European wastewater treatment plants more MDMA is consumed in Amsterdam than in any other European city.

The European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) has estimated the levels of consumption of different recreational drugs in major European cities. The Centre uses a process of back-calculation to estimate the consumption of drugs based on the trace amounts entering wastewater treatment plants. You can browse the results of the EMCDDA's analysis on an interactive map of European City Drug Use.

The map shows the estimated levels of drug use for over 70 European cities. The map allows you to view the estimated consumption of cocaine, amphetamine, methamphetamine and MDMA. The scaled markers on the map represent the estimated consumption levels of the drug selected. The map includes a number of filtering tools which allow you to view the estimated levels of consumption for different years and for different days of the week.

Cocaine use is highest in western and southern cities in Europe. Cocaine is not used so much in eastern Europe. Amphetamine use is very low in southern Europe. Amphetamines are used much more in cities in northern and eastern Europe. Methamphetamine use has historically been low in Europe, except for Czechia and Slovakia. It now seems to be becoming more popular in parts of east Germany.

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Mapping the World's 7,111 Living Languages


There are 7,111 languages still being spoken around the world. However at least a third of those languages are in danger of dying out. Ethnologue's Living Languages interactive map shows where all 7,111 living languages, as of 2018, are spoken around the world.

The language markers on the map are colored by region (with locations assigned to primary countries). Nearly two thirds of the world's languages are from Asia and Africa. These two continents have the densest concentration of different languages. However the vast majority of the world speak a European or Asian language. 18.5% of the world's languages are Pacific languages. However on average only about 1,000 people speak each of those languages, therefore only a very small percentage of the world's population speak one of those Pacific languages.

Papua New Guinea is the country with the most different languages. There are 840 different living languages in Papua New Guinea. Indonesia comes next with 710 languages. Nigeria is third with 524 languages.


You can learn more about many of the languages on the Living Languages map using the Langscape Map, a map which provides information on around 6,000 languages spoken around the world. You can click anywhere on the Langscape Map to view which languages are spoken at that location.

As well as helping you discover which languages are spoken where, the map includes information about demographics, language families and audio recordings & text materials. After clicking on a location on the map you can select any of the listed languages to view information about it beneath the map.

Moving From Coal to Gas & Renewable Energy


The United States is undergoing a major shift in how it generates electricity. Over recent years there has been a large shift away from coal and towards gas, wind, and solar. Electricity Transition has released a great story map which illustrates this movement from coal powered electricity to other forms of energy.

Electricity Transition uses a series of animated heat-maps to show the rise of solar and wind energy over recent years. These animated heat-maps are very effective in showing the increasing use of solar and wind energy and also the areas where both methods of electricity generation are being most used.

After viewing the animated tours of electricity generation you can explore the map and data for yourself. A drop-down menu allows you to select to view different sources of energy, including coal, gas, solar, wind, nuclear and hydro. Once you select an energy source you can use the map timeline to view the levels of electricity production from that source over time. If you zoom in on the map you can view the locations of individual power plants. The dot markers that appear when you zoom in are scaled to show the levels of electricity generated. The size of these markers will change as you change the year to reflect the different levels of power generation at plants over the passage of time.

You can also explore America's power supply on the U.S. Power Plants map. U.S. Power Plants is an interactive map showing the locations, size and type of America's electric power plants. The map is a great way to see where different types of power plant are located, how much each type of energy source contributes to the country's power supply and how much each source contributes to America's CO2 emissions.

Mapping the Midwest Floods


The American Midwest is currently suffering from record levels of flooding. Heavy rains and snow melt following last week's bomb cyclone has led to unprecedented flooding in areas of Nebraska, South Dakota, Wisconsin, Iowa and Minnesota.

The New York Times has used river gauge data from the United States Geological Survey to visualize river heights along the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers over the last six days. The map animates through Wednesday 13th through to Monday 18th showing the record river height levels over these six days. The NYT's Rising Waters map is an effective visualization of how quickly the height of rivers in the Midwest rose over the last week. However it doesn't actually reveal the extent of flooding in the area.


Vox has used satellite imagery to illustrate the scale of the flooding in the Midwest. In What the historic Midwest floods look like from space Vox compares two satellite images of Nebraska side-by-side. One of the images was taken in March 2018. The other was captured on March 16th this year. This side-by-side comparison clearly shows the extent of flooding along the Missouri, Platte and Elkhorn rivers around the city of Omaha.


The Washington Post has released both a map of stream gauges and before & after satellite images to illustrate the effect of the cyclone bomb on the Midwest. The Post's Satellite Images Show the Devastating Floods in the Midwest uses a static map to show all the stream gauges with levels above flood stage on March 19th. The Post has also published an animated GIF which compares two satellite images of the Missouri River. The images are from May of last year and from March 15th this year. Comparing the two images in this way reveals the extent of the swollen tributaries of the Mississippi River. The Post's article is illustrated with a number of other before and after satellite images of flooded locations in the Midwest.

USA Today has also published a series of satellite images revealing the extent of flooding in the Midwest.