Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Where to Discover New Life

If you've ever dreamed of increasing the pool of knowledge by discovering a new species of animal then I have the map for you. The Map of Life's new Discovery Potential layer uses knowledge of the current known species existing in different habitats around the world to predict where new species might be discovered. 

The Discovery Potential map includes four different layers which visualize the potential of discovering new species of mammals, birds, reptiles or amphibians around the world. In general tropical forests have the highest potential for the discovery of new animal species. Which is one of the reasons that it is important that we protect the rain forests of Brazil, Indonesia, Madagascar and Colombia from further deforestation. 

The Map of Life includes other map layers which help to show where in the world animal habitats most need protection. For example, the Map of Life's Biodiversity Patterns section provides heat maps showing species richness around the world for birds and mammals. These biodiversity maps also show areas where some form of conservation protection already exists. The maps can therefore be used to identify areas where species richness is at risk and where habitat conservation protection is lacking or failing. 

You can explore the diversity of an animal species in any country by selecting an area on the Map Of Life Regions map (in the USA and Canada you can explore down to state or province level). If you click on a country on the map you can view a breakdown of the number of bird, mammal and reptile species found in the selected country. If you select the Map of Life Species tab then you can view the a habitat range map for the selected species, showing the areas of the world where that species lives.

Runnabilty Scores

Over the last few years a number of organizations have developed methodologies for ranking the 'walkability' of streets. Interactive maps of these walkability rankings tend to color streets based on how pleasant they are to walk, based on factors such as the amount of motorized road traffic and the levels of 'greenery'.

Scholars at the Simon Fraser University argue that walkability scores are not particular helpful for runners. In their paper 'Creation of a Rough Runnability Index' they maintain that runners have different goals than walkers and that there has been little attention into how the built environment facilitates running. For example city streets which disrupt momentum by requiring lots of starting and stopping may not be a major deterrent for walkers but will deter runners keen on maintaining speed and momentum.

Aateka Shashank, Nadine Schuurman, Russell Copley and Scott Lear have therefore devised three new runnabilty indices which rank streets based on how conducive they are to runners. They have then used these indices to map the runnability of the city of Surrey in British Columbia, Canada. 

The Rough Runnability Indices interactive map colors the sidewalks of Surrey to show how suitable they are for running. The darker the colour of a sidewalk the lower the runnability score. The lighter the colour of a street then the higher the runnability score. You can select to view any of the three different runnability indices ('Runnability Index Safety', 'Runnability Index PM' and 'Runnability Index Generic') from the map sidebar.

You can learn more about the methodologies used to rank the runnability of sidewalks in each of the three developed indices in the paper Creation of a rough runnability index using an affordance-based framework

If you are interested in how 'walkable' or 'bikeable' a city is then you might like Walk Score, which ranks US cities based on how conducive they are for walking and / or cycling.

Monday, April 12, 2021

Hiking the Virtual Appalachian Trail


The Appalachian Trail stretches over 2,000 miles between Springer Mountain, Georgia and Mount Katahdin, Maine. It is believed that nearly every year at least two million people hike at least part of the trail. This year, during lock-down, you can explore the trail virtually on a new 3D interactive map.

Backpacker's interactive map allows you to explore the beauty of the Appalachian Trail in glorious 3D. The Appalachian Trail in 3D map allows you to appreciate some of the natural attractions of the trail through its visualization of the trail's peaks and terrain.

This 3D tour of the Appalachian Trail starts at Springer Mountain in Georgia. Forward and back buttons allow you to progress along the trail in marked stages. Each stage take you to another point on the trail. The map sidebar provides information and images of the mapped locations. The map itself provides you with a beautiful 3D aerial view of the trail from that location. 

The mapped locations include Backpacker's favorite spots on the trails and the favorite locations submitted by Backpacker's readers. You can add your own favorite spots to the map by filling in a short form on the Backpacker site.

Soviet Belfast

During the Cold War the Soviet Union carried out a huge project to create detailed military maps of the west.From the 1940's right up until the 1990's the Soviet military worked on mapping the whole world in very fine detail. One of these detailed Soviet city maps was created for the Northern Ireland city of Belfast.

Soviet Belfast presents the USSR's map of Belfast side-by-side with a modern day street map of the city. The Russian map, at a scale of 1:10000, presents the city of Belfast with street names and other locations labelled in Russian using the Cyrillic alphabet. The modern day map of the city helps to show not only the incredible detail of the Soviet map but also allows you to more easily navigate around a Belfast map written in Cyrillic.

The Soviet map includes 91 'Important Objects', which are presumably locations and facilities in the city that the USSR believe to be of significant strategic importance. These 'important objects' include power stations, pumping stations, army barracks, docks and train stations. If you click on the military hat in the map sidebar you can read these 91 'Important Objects' translated into English.

The Soviet map of Belfast also includes a lengthy 'Reference' section, which presents a general introduction to the city of Belfast. This 'Reference' section describes local social, economic, military resources & statistics. Information that might just prove useful if you had plans to say invade the city.

Hat-tip: GeoConor for both the link to the map and for his detailed Twitter thread on the Soviet Belfast map.

London's East End showing the strategically important docks 

You can explore a large number of these Soviet military maps created for other cities around the world on the OpenTiles Soviet Military Maps interactive. On this interactive map you can zoom in and explore thousands of Soviet military maps of Europe, the Middle East and large parts of Asia. The Soviet military created their maps at many different scales. You can use the map layer control to switch between the maps produced at the various different scales. 

You can view some of the Soviet military maps created for U.S. cities (and the rest of the world) on GeaMap's Soviet Military Mapping of the World.This map can be a little confusing to navigate as map tiles disappear at some zoom levels. Red stars show where there are Soviet military maps to view. You may have to zoom in very closely on a city before the Soviet Military map appears.

John Davies has written an interesting article on the Soviet military maps for the British Library. Soviet Military Mapping of the Cold War Era includes more information about the composition of the Soviet military maps, the cities mapped and some informed speculation on how these maps were made.

You might also be interested in exploring Germany's Secret Invasion Maps of Britain

Saturday, April 10, 2021

Mapping Our Music Bubbles

The Pudding has used data from from YouTube to visualize what people are most listening to around the world. What is very cool about The Pudding's Music Bubble interactive visualization is that it uses your location to present a localized visualization of the music people near you are listening to, before moving out to reveal the music which is popular elsewhere around the world.

The Pudding's new Music Bubble map starts by looking at the music which is most popular in your own city. As you progress through the Music Bubble the map starts to show you the music which is most popular in your neighboring cities, before moving out to explore the music which is popular in neighboring countries and then in other countries around the world.

One thing that The Pudding's Music Bubble clearly visualizes is that geographical cultural influences still play a huge part in the music we listen to. Some songs may have a huge global appeal. However many songs can be very popular within limited geographical areas. According to the Music Bubble there are currently 203 different No. 1 songs in the world by location. That is a lot of musical diversity around the world.

The Music Bubble is a guided tour of The Pudding's regular Music Borders interactive map, which maps what music people are listening to around the world. The Music Borders map is updated every month to show the current No.1 song in 3,000 cities around the world. As with the Music Bubbles map you can listen to any of the songs on the Music Borders map simply by clicking on a song title on the map.

Friday, April 09, 2021

Mapping the Louvre

The Louvre has digitized over 480,000 works of art, including the Mona Lisa and the Venus de Milo. It has also created an interactive map of the gallery. This means that although you might not be able to visit the Louvre in person during lockdown you can spend a pleasant hour or two exploring the Louvre online. 

The Louvre interactive map provides an easy to use plan to the museum's eight departments and hundreds of galleries. Using the plan you can explore the galleries room by room. Click on a gallery on the map and an information window will open providing thumbnail images of all the artworks on display in the selected room. Click through on any of these thumbnail images and you can view the chosen work of art in closer detail. 

Each of the over 480,000 individual artworks digitized by the Louvre can be viewed on its own interactive map interface. If you haven't got time to explore the whole gallery then why not jump straight to the interactive digitized images of the Mona Lisa and the Venus de Milo

If you want to explore more virtual tours of the world's most famous museums and galleries during lock-down then try these links:

The Uffizi Galleries Virtual Tour - one of the greatest collections of Renaissance art in the world
The Metropolitan Museum of Art - includes a number of virtual exhibitions
The National Gallery - London's National Gallery has a number of virtual tours
The Rijksmuseum Masterpieces Up Close - a virtual tour of the museum's Gallery of Honour
The Smithsonian National Museum of Natural Museum - has created a number of virtual tours
The Stonehenge Virtual Tour - places you in the center of this mysterious pre-historic monument
Beijing Palace Museum - virtual tours of the galleries and amazing buildings of the Forbidden City
Buckingham Palace - take a virtual tour around the Queen's favorite crib
Van Eyck Virtual Tour - the Ghent Museum of Fine Arts' impressive Van Eyck virtual exhibition 
Explore the Raphael Cartoons - interactive maps of the V&A's astounding cartoons by Raphael 

Thursday, April 08, 2021

The Japanese Map of Pearl Harbor

After Japan's successful attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941 the commander of the Japanese air squadron, Captain Mitsuo Fuchida, drew up a map to show the damage he had inflicted on the American ships. The completed map was used by Captain Fuchida to brief Emperor Hirohito on the outcome of the attack. This map was acquired by the Library of Congress in 2018. 

The Library of Congress has created a story map, Through the Enemy's Eyes, in order to explain the story behind Fuchida's historic map and to allow the public to explore the map in detail. Through the Enemy's Eyes explains the history behind Japan's attack on the American naval base at Pearl Harbor, which resulted in America entering World War II on the very next day after the attack. 

This account of the Japanese attack includes a number of other vintage maps created by the American Government Printing Office to visualize the attack from the U.S. perspective. The Fuchida map provides a unique view of the attack from a Japanese perspective.

The Fuchida map section of Through the Enemy's Eye explores the map in some detail, including an explanation of the map key. This key includes a number of different ship symbols to show the different type of damage inflicted on American ships, from 'minor damage' to 'sunk'. Red arrows on the map show the direction of Japanese torpedoes. Red dots and crosses show where Japanese bombs exploded.

Through the Enemy's Eyes also provides a brief account of Captain Fuchida's life after the war and the response of the United States to the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.

The Ancient Tree Map

Around 500 churchyards in England contain Yew trees which are older than the churches themselves. No-one knows exactly why so many churchyards have ancient Yew trees growing in them. One common belief is that Yews were planted in churchyards to deter animals (the bark, leaves and seeds of yew trees are highly poisonous to cattle, horses and many other animals).

You can find ancient Yew trees and the locations of the United Kingdom's other most elderly trees on the Woodland Trust's Ancient Tree Inventory. Share your location with the Ancient Tree Inventory interactive map and you can discover the location of all the very old trees which can be found near you. On the map ancient trees are shown using colored tree markers. The different colors of marker indicate whether the tree is on public or private land. Different letters on the markers indicate whether the tree is 'ancient', 'veteran' or 'notable'. If you click on a marker you can discover the species of tree and its diameter.

Some people claim that the oldest tree in the UK is the Fortingall yew tree in Perthshire. The Fortingall yew is believed to be between 2,000 and 3,000 years old. Some say the tree could be as much as 5,000 years old. The Fortingall yew grows in the churchyard of the village of Fortingall.Like many yew trees found in churchyards it predates the birth of Christ - which tends to disprove the theory that the trees were planted to deter animals from churchyards (the churches came after the Yews).

Wednesday, April 07, 2021

On Virtual Safari


At the moment, if you live in the UK, it is illegal to travel abroad on holiday. Which means that this year my African safari has to be virtual.Luckily for me I can explore the Who Cares interactive map, which features a number of animals who are currently in danger of becoming extinct.

The Who Cares map provides a snapshot of an African savannah. Hidden on this Who Cares map of the savannah are ten different animal species. While on safari your job is to take a photograph of each animal and in return you can learn a little more about each animal and its current conservation status.

Your task is to hunt for  ten different animals who are currently living in the African savannah. When you discover one of the endangered animals featured on the map you just need to capture it in a photograph. Successfully take a picture of one of the animals and an information window will open with details on the species. This includes information on its current conservation status and how many individual animals of the species still exist.

What Will the Climate be in 2100?

Norwegian broadcasting company NRK has used data from Norwegian and international climate scientists to predict the climate in the year 2100. If you live in Norway you can use NRK's What Will the Climate be in Your Kommune to discover how climate change is likely to effect your local environment eighty years from now.

Enter your address into NRK's interactive and you can view your Kommune's likely climate future based on a model of moderate global heating. Scroll through What Will the Climate be in Your Kommune and you can discover how much warmer average temperatures will be, how much rain you can expect, whether flooding will be more likely, how much sea levels are likely to have risen, how much shorter the skiing season is likely to be and how far glaciers are likely to have shrunk. 

All the future climate data presented in What Will the Climate be in Your Kommune is based on the future climate forecast for your local area. All the graphics and data visualizations used in the forecast are localized to your kommune. This includes a map which shows the town or city which currently has a similar average temperature to which your kommune will experience in the year 2100.