Sunday, August 17, 2014

Mapping Fires in the Amazon

InfoAmazonia has created an interesting Torque powered animated map of two years worth of fires in the Amazon. Fires in the Amazon uses data obtained from NASA satellite imagery.

InfoAmazonia is a network of organizations and journalists dedicated to providing news and data about the Amazon from the nine countries of the forest. All the data used on the site is open-sourced and provides a great resource for anyone interested in the Amazon and deforestation.

Global warming and the increase in extreme, dry weather conditions combined with the effects of deforestation is creating an environment in the Amazon which is proving more conducive to devastating forest fires. The Fires in the Amazon map is a powerful visualization of the catastrophic effect of fires in the Amazon over the last two years.

The juxtaposition of yellow and red animated fire markers with the dark background map tiles is a very effective representation of the burning of the Amazon. However the map does fall into the trap of many Torque powered map visualizations by failing to provide any context for the animated data.

The best examples of Torque powered animated maps that I have seen lately have used Torque with Odyssey.js to at least pick out some of the interesting stories in the data. A good example of this is the Global Terrorism, 2013 map, an animated visualization of terrorist attacks around the world from January of 2013 through to the end of that year.

As the Global Terrorism map animation plays terrorist events are added to the map in chronological order on the date they occurred. During the animation notable events, such as the Boston Marathon Bombings, the siege on the BP gas complex in Algeria, the killing of a British soldier in London and the killing of 72 innocent shoppers at the Westgate Mall in Nairobi are highlighted on the map and reported on in the map sidebar.

You can view more of InfoAmazonia's maps on their map gallery. The galley includes maps about the effects of deforestation, protected areas and indigenous lands and forced labor in Amazonia.

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