Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Creating & Editing GeoJSON Data

I have a new favorite mapping tool. When I'm creating an interactive map I usually spend way too much of my time searching for or creating GeoJSON files. When I need country polygons I often use Natural Earth, which is a great resource of free vector and raster map data. However when I download country polygons from Natural Earth I often spend a lot of time optimizing the size of the GeoJSON data I need by manually removing the data for countries that I don't need for the map I am currently working on.

This is where GeoJSON Maps of the Globe will now save me lots of time. GeoJSON Maps of the Globe allows you to easily build your own country polygon GeoJSON data by simply selecting countries on an interactive map. For example, if you just want to create a map of EU countries you could use GeoJSON Maps of the Globe to build a GeoJSON file with only the county polygon data for the 28 European countries that you need. The resulting GeoJSON file will therefore be a lot smaller in size than a GeoJSON file that includes the polygon data for every country in the world.

The data for GeoJSON Maps of the Globe comes from Natural Earth. If you use Natural Earth Data a lot then you will find GeoJSON Maps of the Globe very useful. Once you have built your map by selecting the required countries on the interactive map you have a choice to download the data in three levels of resolution, depending on how detailed you need your map to be.

I used GeoJSON Maps of the Globe when creating my 'Map' in European Languages map. For this map I only needed the polygons of countries in Europe. I therefore simply clicked on the countries I wanted on GeoJSON Maps of the Globe and downloaded the resulting GeoJSON file. I then imported the GeoJSON data into Mapbox Studio, where I colored the countries depending on whether their word for 'map' is derived from Latin or from Greek.

I actually could have created my 'Map' in European Languages using Leaflet.js. GeoJSON Maps of the Globe includes an option to download all the code needed to create an interactive map using Leaflet.js and your downloaded GeoJSON file.

If you also use GeoJSON data a lot then you might also like another GeoJSON tool, which I use on an almost daily basis for building and refining map data. is an online tool for editing and creating GeoJSON map data.

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Gun Violence Trends in US States

The USA has one of the highest levels of gun violence in the first world. Not only is the level of gun violence in America shockingly high the number of gun deaths is actually rising in nearly every state.

The Nelson A. Rockefeller Institute of Government has released an interactive map which allows you to explore the trends in gun violence in every U.S. state from 2001-2017. Exploring the data in the Gun Violence Dashboard it appears that of the 50 states the only ones that saw a downward trend in gun deaths from 2001-2017 were California, New York, Hawaii, Arizona and Connecticut. The District of Columbia also saw a decline in the number of gun deaths during that period. Every other state appears to have seen a rise in the levels of gun deaths per 100,000 people since 2011.

The Gun Violence Dashboard visualizes a number of different measures of gun violence by state and by year. Not only can you explore the state trends in total gun deaths you can also view the levels of gun homicide deaths and gun suicide deaths. In terms of the overall number of gun deaths per population Alaska ranks the highest of all states. The rate of gun deaths in Alaska is almost ten times as high as that of Hawaii, which has the lowest rate. Alabama, Montana, Louisiana and Mississippi are, after Alaska, the states with the next highest levels of gun deaths.

Leaving America

The un-American President has opened his vile, racist mouth again. Among the best responses to his desperate attempts to destroy the principles of the United States is Flowing Data's If We All Left to “Go Back Where We Came From”.

Using a series of dot maps Nathan Yau visualizes a USA which has been de-populated of all the Americans who are the descendants of immigrants. The series starts with a dot map of the USA without all its non-Hispanic white people. Next to be removed from this map of America are all Asian and Black Americans. Thirdly Hispanics are removed from the map. The final dot map in the series shows the USA with only 2.1 million Native American and native inhabitants left.

The data for this series of dot maps comes from the 2012-2016 American Community Survey. In his article Nathan links to some other examples of dot maps. One dot map (which isn't linked to) is the University of Virginia's Racial Dot Map. This interactive dot map of the USA allows you to zoom-in on individual cities to explore their racial make-up.

Also See

The Racial Dot of Brazil
The Racial Dot Map of South Africa
The Racial Dot Map of Estonia
The Racial Dot Map of Australia

Mapping Italy's Manchurian Candidate

Vladimir Putin's favorite Italian politician, Matteo Salvini, has been in the news a lot this week. Last week Buzzfeed revealed that a close aide of Matteo Salvini held a meeting with three Russians. A meeting in which he discussed how to illegally channel tens of millions of dollars of Russian oil money to Salvini’s Lega party.

When Salvini isn't busy visiting Moscow or denouncing EU sanctions against Russia he is usually relentlessly campaigning around Italy trying to drum-up far-right support for his extreme political party. Visualize News has released an interactive map which tracks Matteo Salvini's movements based on his official Facebook page.

Matteo on Tour maps out all Salvini's visits around Italy (and abroad) since 2 June 2018. It includes a timeline which is synchronized to an interactive map. Click on any of the visits mentioned in the timeline and you can view the location visited on the interactive map. In total, since last June, Matteo Salvini has covered the same distance as 4 Forest Gumps. Let's hope that his next journey is a short trip to a long stay in prison.

Monday, July 15, 2019

San Francisco's Seasons of Fog

San Francisco is well known for its frequent fog. In fact San Franciscans are so familiar with this weather phenomenon that they are now on first name terms. The reason that San Francisco sees so much fog, especially in the summer, is that big expanse of water called the Pacific. The cold ocean waters of the Pacific cools the warm air above. Cool air doesn't hold as much moisture as warm air. The moisture therefore condenses as the warm air is cooled, creating fog.

In the mornings the sun begins to heat the land. Hot air rises and the cooled foggy air over the Pacific is sucked inland. As the day progresses the sun heats the air and San Francisco's fog is therefore (usually) burned off during the afternoon.

You can see this process very clearly on Fogust, an interactive map visualizing San Francisco's fog by month and time of day. The map uses historical data from NOAA's GOES-15 to provide a visual guide to the historical levels of fog experienced during different months and over the course of a typical day.

The map has three buttons for each month of the year. Judging by the map July and August seem to be the foggiest months. If you switch between the 10 am, 12 pm and 4 pm buttons in July then you can observe the process described above, as the the fog forms over the Pacific, rolls inland and then gets burned off in the afternoon.

OSM Coverage & Population Density

Disaster Ninja is a map of global population density correlated to OpenStreetMap density. It shows the number of OpenStreetMap objects mapped compared to the local population density. The map can therefore be used to quickly identify populated locations around the world which have not been fully mapped on OSM.

Disaster Ninja was initially developed to help disaster relief. The map can be used to quickly determine the level of OSM coverage compared to the local population after a natural disaster. It is therefore a useful tool for organizations such as the Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team, who develop and use OSM map data as part of their disaster response and management efforts.

The Disaster Ninja interactive map uses a bivariate choropleth overlay to show the number of OSM map objects compared to the population per kilometer squared. The red areas on the map are locations which have a high population density and a low number of mapped objects on OSM. The red areas on the map are therefore locations which are likely to not be fully mapped on OpenStreetMap. At the other end of the bivariate scale are the light green areas. These are locations with a relatively small population and a large number of mapped objects.

At a glance India and China seem to be two areas of the world with a relatively high population density and low OSM map object count. The very high population densities in some areas of these countries may partly account for this. However some of the most densely populated areas, such as New Delhi, Mumbai and Beijing actually show up as green on the map and are therefore relatively well mapped on OSM.

Via: Weekly OSM

Map in European Languages

The map above shows the word 'map' translated into a number of different European languages. The continent is mostly divided between those who derive the word 'map' from Latin and those who derive the word from Greek.

The word for 'map' in English, Spanish, Portuguese, Polish, Czech and Serbian comes from the Latin 'mappa' for 'sheet' or 'napkin'. The word's use to describe a drawn representation of an area originates from the medieval Latin 'mappa mundi'. The literal translation of 'mappa mundi' is 'sheet of the world', from Latin mappa ‘sheet, napkin’ and mundi ‘of the world’ (genitive of mundus ).

Most other languages in Europe derive the word 'map' from the Greek word 'khártēs' (meaning map). These include the French, who use 'Carte', the German 'Karte' and the Danish 'Kort'.

In English, despite using a Latin derived word as the name for a map, we use a Greek word for the science or practice of drawing maps. The word 'cartography' comes from the French 'cartographie', from Ancient Greek 'khártēs' (map) + 'gráphō' (write). The other users of the Latin 'mappa' to describe a map (Spain, Portugal, Poland, Czechia and Serbia) also use a word derived from these Greek words (khártēs+'gráphō) to describe the actual science of making maps.

Sunday, July 14, 2019

City Neighborhood Quiz

How well do you know your global cities? Could you name a city just from a list of its central neighborhoods? Let's find out.

The maps below have had all road and building data removed. In fact the only thing left on these maps are the place-name labels of each city's central neighborhoods / boroughs. All you have to do is identify the city featured in each of the maps.

There are seven cities to guess in total.








Answers (highlight the text below to reveal the answers)

1. London
2. New York
3. Paris
4. Berlin
5. San Francisco
6. Los Angeles
7. Sydney

Saturday, July 13, 2019

Tracking Tropical Storm Barry

The National Hurricane Center (NHC) advises that Tropical Storm Barry has become a hurricane as it approaches Louisiana. They warn of "dangerous storm surge, heavy rains, and wind conditions occurring across the north-central Gulf Coast".

For the latest news on Tropical Storm Barry from the NHC refer to:

The NHC's public advisory on Hurricane Barry
The NHC's forecast advisory on Hurricane Barry
The NHC's forecast discussion on Hurricane Barry

CNN has compiled a number of resources related to the progress of Tropical Storm Barry. These include a storm tracking map, the latest satellite imagery and a number of forecast maps showing the predicted levels of precipitation, storm surges and wind speeds. The storm tracker interactive map shows the predicted path of Tropical Storm Barry and the estimated arrival times along its predicted path.

The National Weather Service says that the slow progress of the storm will bring a threat of flooding "along the central Gulf Coast, across portions of the Mississippi Valley and north into the Tennessee Valley." You can view where the NWS has current alerts in place on the National Weather Service map. Just click on any of the colored sections on the map to read the latest NWS alert for that location.

You can also follow Tropical Storm Barry on the Earth animated map. Earth animates the latest wind, precipitation and other weather conditions on an interactive map. Just click on the Earth logo to change the visualized weather layer or to switch to a different map projection.

Putting Water Fountains on the Map

Readers of Maps Mania are mostly very conscious of the effect of single-use plastic on the environment. Which is why they would presumably always prefer to use a reusable water bottle rather than a single-use plastic water bottles. When I leave my home in the summer I nearly always carry a re-usable water bottle. I actually now have a pretty good mental map of the location of water fountains which I can use to refill my water bottle. Of course this mental map only exists in places I know well. When I end up somewhere new I have to rely entirely on luck when looking for a water fountain.

Finding a nearby water fountain can be quite hard. Which is why you should bookmark on your mobile devices. is an interactive map which can help you find and discover water fountains close to your current location. The map shows the locations of potable water fountains with a small blue marker and non-potable fountains with a black marker. The map sidebar lists the nearest fountains in order of proximity to your current location. If you hover over a water fountain in this list its location will be highlighted on the map.

The map sidebar also includes a number of options which allow you to filter the results shown on the map. These allow you to view the locations of only potable water fountains or water fountains which are wheelchair accessible. It even allows you to filter the results by type of water (spring, ground water, own supply or tap).

Now for the bad news. Unfortunately at the moment only works in New York, Geneva, Zurich, Lucerne and Basel. does say to contact them if you would like to add your city to the map. Presumably they would look more favorably on your request if you were able to provide the location data yourself for the water fountains in your city.

If you live in Italy then you can use Fontanelle. Fontanelle maintains an interactive map showing the locations of drinking fountains in many Italian cities. Their cities on the map list includes information on how many water fountains have been mapped in each Italian city (and a link to the map showing the locations of all the city's water fountains).

Friday, July 12, 2019

Deforestation Supply Chains

Much of the deforestation of tropical rainforests around the world is being caused by agricultural expansion, mainly to grow soy & palm oil and to clear land to graze cows for beef. Trase wants to increase transparency around the supply chains of agricultural products in order to reveal the environmental and social risks of these products. One way in which Trase is increasing transparency is through mapping the supply chains of South American agricultural commodities from production to consumption.

The Trase Explore the Supply Chain map is a simple interactive tool which allows you to view the supply chains of a number of agricultural commodities from South American countries to the rest of the world. Select a product, a country and a year and you can view a flow map showing the volume trade of that product to other countries around the world for the selected year. The top exporting companies of that product are also listed beside the map.

The Trase Supply Chain Interactive Map provides a more detailed overview of the trade and supply chains of some of these agricultural commodities. This map allows you to explore in finer detail where these products originate from and the deforestation risk attached to their production. An accompanying sankey diagram shows the supply chain of the selected commodity, revealing the volumes traded by individual exporting and importing companies and the countries where the commodity is most consumed.

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Fly Me to 200 Moons

Jupiter has 67 moons. Saturn has 61. In fact, in total, there are nearly 200 moons in our Solar System. Thanks to National Geographic you can now take a galactic tour of all the Solar System's major moons.

Start scrolling on The Atlas of the Moons and you will take-off from the Earth to play a fleeting visit to the Moon. Keep scrolling and you can travel further out into the Solar System, visiting each of the planets in turn. Stop for gas at a planet and you can take a little tour of each of the planet's major moons.

Each of these individual moon tours includes an interactive 3D globe of the moon. The globe is accompanied with some interesting facts, about the moon's circumference and the nature of its geology & atmosphere. Each 3D globe has a small inset map on which an outline of the United States has been overlaid (to give some perspective on the moon's size). The National Geographic also provides information on each of the space missions which have visited the moon.

If you are a fan of traveling around the Solar System then you will also like NASA's Solar System Exploration website. This is a great destination for anyone who wants to learn more about the Sun, the planets (& their moons), the Kuiper Belt and the Oort Cloud.

NASA's Solar System Exploration includes interactive globes of a number of the planets and moons. Each of these interactive globes are labelled with some of the most interesting locations on each planet. If you click on these labeled locations you can view them in more detail using NASA's satellite imagery of the planet or moon. A sidebar panel can be also be opened to view more information about each selected location.

NASA's Solar System website includes an interactive map of the Solar System showing the orbits of all the planets around the Sun. The planets and Haley's Comet are interactive on the map. If you select any of the planets on the map you can click through to navigate to their dedicated section on the website.

Your 2050 Climate Twin

In 2050 London will have climate similar to that currently experienced by Barcelona. The temperature in London is expected to rise by 2.2 degrees centigrade over the next thirty years, resulting in temperatures that you would expect on the Mediterranean today. London is of course not the only city that can expect dramatic temperature increases from global heating. Madrid will be like Marrakesh, Seattle will resemble San Francisco and Washington D.C. will have a climate similar to Nashville today.

The Crowther Lab has explored how global heating will effect 520 cities around the world and matched those predictions with cities that experience those temperatures today. The result is a simple to understand example of the likely results of global heating. Click on your city on the Future Cities interactive map and you can find out which city's climate your city will resemble in 2050 as a result of climate change.

When you select a city on the Future Cities interactive map you can also view details on the expected annual increase in temperature and the expected increase in temperature in the warmest & coldest months. The sharpest rise predicted by Crowther Lab will be in St. Louis. St. Louis is expected to see an increase in annual temperatures of 3.6 degrees centigrade. It will therefore experience a climate similar to that of Dallas today.

Crowther Lab are not the first to use future climate analogs as a way to explain the effects of climate change. 23 Degrees has also released a clever interactive map which allows you to find your climate analog for the year 2080. Using this climate change model Frankfurt in Germany will be as hot as Malawi today and living in Berlin will be like living in Lesotho in southern Africa.

You can find your 2080 climate twin using The Summer of 2080 Will Be This Warm interactive map. If you enter your location or click on your location on the map you can view the town or city in the world which has a climate now which is similar to the climate you can expect in your location in the year 2080. The map uses two different climate models. This allows you to find your climate twin for a global heating scenario of 4.2 degrees or 1.8 degrees.

If you live in the USA then you can use the University of Maryland's interactive map, What Will the Climate Feel Like in 60 Years, to discover your 2080 climate twin. The map is based on work by scientists Matt Fitzpatrick and Robert Dunn, who used different climate models to find the contemporary climatic analogs for the weather that 540 North American urban areas can expect in the late 21st century. The study behind the map revealed that the climate in U.S. cities will significantly change over this century, becoming similar to contemporary climates which are hundreds of kilometers away.

Using the interactive map you can click on a town or city to discover which current location has a climate which is similar to the climate you can expect in 2080. The map provides two different analogs for each urban area. One shows the climate analog based on a high emissions climate model and the other view provides a climate analog based on a future where countries have actually reduced emissions.

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Denmark is a Prison

The Autocomplete Map is an interactive map on which all country place-name labels have been changed to show Google's autocomplete suggestions when you type "(country name) is ....". For example when you type "China is ... " into Google the search engine suggests "China is a sleeping giant". The map also includes Google's autocomplete suggestions for U.S. states.

Google's autocomplete suggestions are based on the previous searches by other users. In other words the autocomplete suggestions are what most users type into Google search. There are a few general trends in Google's suggestions. Worryingly many of Google's suggestions are based on a very poor knowledge of geography. In this category we have 'Chile is in Europe', 'Mexico is in South America', 'Morocco is in Europe', 'Malaysia is EU country' and 'Israel is Europe'.

Another trend is to suggest that a country is dying, dead or over. In this category we have 'Japan is dying', 'Belarus is dead', 'South Africa is finished', 'Colorado is ruined', 'Illinois is doomed' and 'Connecticut is dying'. Not in this category, but possibly related, are 'New Zealand is depressing', 'California is going down' and 'Bangladesh is sinking'.

Among my favorite surreal answers are 'France is Bacon' (presumably mistypings of 'Francis Bacon'), 'Chad is on the snoop' (from a children's TV program) and  'Germany is dancing on a volcano' (a 1938 film).

Methodology: The autocomplete suggestions used on the map are based on searching Google in England. You may get other suggestions depending on which country you search in. I have tried to use the top autocomplete suggestion - except where the suggestions are too repetitive (for example '(country name) is safe' appears as the first suggestion for many, many countries). I may also have ignored the top autocomplete suggestion when another suggestion was more interesting. If a country is missing from the map then it is probably because Google had no interesting autocomplete suggestions for that country.

The Moon is Back

National Geographic has created a new map of the moon and has used it to plot the history of lunar exploration. In Explore 50 Years of Lunar Visits National Geographic has plotted out all the manned and unmanned landings on the moon.

Accompanying National Geographic's new map of the moon is a timeline of all missions to the moon since Russia's Luna 2 space probe landed on September 14th, 1959. This timeline shows that the golden age of moon exploration was during the late 1960's inspired by the race to land the first man on the moon. After the Apollo 11 mission in 1969, when Neil Armstrong became the first human to step on the moon, the early 70's saw a flurry of manned missions to the moon. However since the Apollo 17 mission in 1972 no human being has landed on the moon.

After Russia's Luna 24 mission (unmanned) in 1976 there was a huge 14 year gap with no lunar missions of any kind. This gap ended in 1990 when Japan's Hiten probe was launched. However the Hiten probe didn't herald a new age of lunar exploration and there were only three more missions in the next 17 years. Since 2007 there has been more interest in the moon with a handful of lunar missions having been launched. Now there are 12 lunar missions planned to take place in the next 6 years.

Alongside this timeline National Geographic has also mapped out where all the lunar missions have landed on the moon. The vast majority have landed on the near side of the moon. Only 8 lunar missions have so far landed or orbited on the far side of the moon.

Do Mosques Face East?

Last week I attempted to answer the question Do Cathedrals Face East?. Of course Christianity is not the only religion which expects its adherents to pray in a specific direction. In Islam the qibla is the direction that Muslims should face while praying. The qiblah is the direction facing towards the Kaaba in Mecca.

Above are the aerial images of six of England's most notable purpose-built mosques. All six mosques have a similar orientation and each has a wall facing in a south-easterly direction - in the direction of Mecca. The Fazl Mosque in London seems to deviate most from the orientation of the other mosques. This may be because it was London's first purpose-built mosque (1926).

Mosques around the world have a mihrab set into a wall which indicates the direction of Mecca. Mustafa Yilmaz in Historical mosque orientation in Turkey explores some of the historical methods used to determine qibla through the ages. These changing methodologies is one reason why mosques have slightly different orientations from each other, so that even mosques in the same towns might have mihrabs pointing in different directions.

Pantazis & Lambrou claim, in Investigating the orientation of eleven mosques in Greece, that the three most common methods of calculating the qibla direction are "Basic spherical trigonometrical formulae; Stellar observation; and Recording the solar shadow." Pantazis & Lambrou found that all the eleven Greek mosques that they investigated had a southeastern orientation with a usual deviation of between 6 and 10 degrees. They explain these deviations as being a result of the historical limitations in qibla calculations when the mosques were built.

Because a Mosque's mihrab is orientated towards Mecca mosques in the same country are therefore likely to be orientated in similar directions. However, because of historical changes in how this orientation is determined, there may still be some deviations in the orientations of mosques. It is also worth noting that it is far more important that the mihrab faces towards Mecca than for the actual Mosque building to be orientated towards the Kaaba.

Tuesday, July 09, 2019

Mapping a Book by its Cover

The Pudding has created an interactive map showing the covers of 5,000 books. All 5,000 books mapped on 11 Years of Top-Selling Book Covers, Arranged by Visual Similarity appeared on the New York Times' 'Best Selling' or 'Also Selling' lists since June 2008. The book covers are organized on the map based on their visual similarity, as judged and organized by machine learning.

Color seems to play a very prominent role in determining 'visual similarity' in the machine algorithm used by The Pudding. If you zoom out so that you can see all 5,000 book covers you can see that a lot of the grouping and organization appears to be strongly influenced by the dominant color of each book.

The Pudding's map comes with a number of filters which allow you to explore the book covers by genre and by visual motif. The visual motif filter allows you to highlight on the map images which contain 'faces', 'landscapes', 'smiles' etc. Therefore the motif filter provides another way to explore the book covers by visual similarity. The genre filter is a great way to explore and examine the visual trends used by publishers for different genres of literature.

The map itself was created using OpenSeadragon, a library for viewing high resolution zoomable images. OpenSeadragon supports a number of different image tile services, including WMS and IIIF.

Extrajudicial Executions in the Punjab

In the late 1970's and 1980's the Khalistan movement sought to establish a Sikh state in the Punjab region of India. This movement was often violent and was met in turn by violence from the Indian government. During the 1980's and 1990's the Khalistan movement and the Indian military & police both used excessive violence. Violence which led to numerous deaths on both sides.

It is believed that over 5,000 Sikhs were the victims of "enforced disappearances and extrajudicial executions" by the Indian government's counterinsurgency measures during the 1980's & 1990's. Ensaaf's Crimes Against Humanity project is an attempt to document and map these disappearances and executions by the Indian security forces in the state of Punjab. The data was gathered from a village-by-village census project interviewing victim's families and examining documentary evidence.

The Crimes Against Humanity interactive map plots where Sikhs disappeared or were killed in the Punjab as a result of the Indian government's counterinsurgency. The interactive map includes a timeline which allows you to see when these disappearances took place. The markers on the map are scaled to reflect the number of victims documented at each location. You can click on these markers to learn more about each of the individual victims and the nature of their disappearance or killing.

Monday, July 08, 2019

The Geography of American Art

Every two years New York's Whitney Museum of American Art hosts the Whitney Biennial, an exhibition of work by new artists. The exhibition catalogs of the Whitney museum include an address for every featured artist (either a studio, home or gallery address). The New York Times has extracted these artist addresses from every catalog since 1932 to map out the geography of American art.

The first map in the NYT's Mapping the Whitney Biennial shows the location of artists across the United States by year. To be honest this first map isn't particularly informative. You probably won't be too shocked to discover from the map that an art museum in New York seems to feature a lot of artists from New York.

Far more interesting is what comes after this initial map. After this chronological map the Times has created a series of maps exploring where artists have lived-worked in individual cities, states and regions. It includes maps based on the listed addresses of artists in New York, Los Angeles, Texas, Chicago and the Midwest. These maps are a little more interesting as they help to reveal where artist communities have emerged in different American cities and regions. They are also interesting in revealing where individual artists have lived and worked in some of America's largest cities.

At the end the NYT has mapped out the New York neighborhoods where artists lived in 1932, 1973 and in 2019. These maps show how the center of New York art has shifted over the decades from Manhattan to Brooklyn.

United States Climate Stripes

Ed Hawkins' climate stripes are a simple and powerful visualization of how average yearly temperatures have risen over the last century as a result of global heating. His Show Your Stripes application allows you to view and download an image of the climate stripes for different locations around the world.

In the United States Show Your Stripes can be used to view and download climate stripes down to the state level. Thanks to the North Carolina Institute for Climate Studies you can now view and download the climate stripes for your county. The NCICS Annual United States Climate Stripes: Temperature and Precipitation interactive map provides a simple interface for viewing temperature and precipitation climate stripes at the county level.

Both the temperature and precipitation climate stripes on this map use data from NOAA to show how the climate has changed over time in each county since 1895. The temperature climate stripes use blue and red stripes to show colder and warmer than average years (stripes are in chronological order with 1895 on the far left and 2018 on the far right). The precipitation climate stripes use brown for drier than average years and green for the wetter than average years.

Sunday, July 07, 2019

Can You Name these Fictional Maps?

There are some authors who have created fictional worlds so large and detailed that it helps to have a map while reading them. The fictional worlds created by these writers can be so well imagined that many readers would even be able to name a world depicted just from exploring its fictional map.

How well do you know your fictional worlds? See if you can guess which works of fictions are depicted in the fantasy maps shown below.






Answers (highlight the text below to reveal the answers)

1. A map of Middle Earth from The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien.
2. A map of Westeros and Essos from Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin.
3. A map of Discworld from the Discworld series of novels by Terry Pratchett.
4. A map of Earthsea from the Earthsea Trilogy by Ursula K. Le Guin.
5. A map of Lilliput and Blefuscu from Gulliver's Travels by Jonathon Swift.


1. The Lord of the Rings Map is Amazon Prime's interactive map of Middle Earth. If you are a fan of Tolkien's novels then you will also like the interactive maps created by the LOTR Project. These include interactive maps of both Beleriand and Middle Earth.

2. The Westeros map is a screenshot of Carto's Game of Thrones Basemap of the Seven Kingdoms.

3. The Discworld Mapp was drawn by Stephen Player following the directions of Terry Pratchett and Stephen Briggs.

4. The Earthsea map was drawn by Ursula K. Le Guin herself. It is one of a number of maps and drawings created by Ursula K. Le Guin.

5. The Map of Lilliput and Blefusca appeared in the first edition of Gulliver's Travels in 1726 and was created by the cartographer Herman Moll.

Saturday, July 06, 2019

The Film Map of the World

The Film Map of the World shows the 10 most Wikipedia'ed films which are set in every country in the world. On the map the ten biggest cities (or highest mountains / point of interests) in each country are labelled to show one of the ten most popular movies which were set in that nation.

Wikipedia was used to discover which films were set in each country. Some films are set in more than one country so films may appear in more then one country on the map. The top ten films in each country were determined by the average daily number of views of the film's entry on Wikipedia between 2015 and 2019.

The Film Map of the World was inspired by The Pudding's two interactive maps A People Map of the USA and A People Map of the UK. These two maps show the most famous person from each town in those two countries, based on each town's most Wikipedia'ed resident. The Pudding's maps also inspired the Most Popular Natives of Czech Towns interactive map.

Friday, July 05, 2019

Mapping Historical Sea Ice Extent

John Nelson has created a series of maps to show how the sea ice extent in the Arctic and Antarctic changes over the course of the year. He has also mapped out how these sea ice extents have changed over the last 40 years.

Historic Sea Ice Events starts with a fantastic animated map which shows the freezing and thawing of the water at the poles over 12 months. This animation provides a great overview of the seasonal changes at the poles. Historic Sea Ice Extents also includes a series of static maps to visualize the historical records of sea ice extent at both poles for every month over the last 40 years. On these maps the color of the sea ice extent changes by year. The yellow lines on these maps show the sea ice extent in the most recent years, while purple lines show the more historic records of sea ice levels.

These maps clearly reveal that the levels of sea ice at both poles has been dramatically decreasing in recent years as a result of global heating.

John Nelson's maps use data from the National Snow and Ice Data Center. The Center has created its own series of interactive maps which visualize Satellite Observations of Arctic Change. These maps allow you to see how sea ice, snow cover and frozen ground have all been shrinking during the 21st Century. Other maps plot air temperature changes in the Arctic and the changes to Arctic vegetation.

Global warming is causing observable changes to ecological systems in the Arctic. Air temperatures in the Arctic are rising and sea ice extent is declining. Even Arctic vegetation is changing with tundra being replaced by shrubs. Each of the NSIDC interactive maps uses NASA satellite data and research to plot changes to the Arctic from 1979 to 2015. The maps allow you to observe the data for each year in this period to observe how global heating has effected the ecological systems of the Arctic.

Mapping Diversity in the USA

America is becoming more and more diverse. However the pace of this change in diversity is faster in some parts of the country than in others. Axios has mapped out Where America's diversity is increasing the fastest. On Axios's map every county is colored to show whether it has become more or less diverse since 2009 and by what degree.

It is important to remember that this map doesn't show the least and most diverse locations in the USA. It only shows how much the diversity in counties has changed between 2009-2017. For example, the Midwest has experienced some of the fastest growing diversity during this period. As Axios points out the Midwest still remains one of the least diverse regions of the country. If you hover over a county on the map you can actually view the county's diversity score and how it compares to the U.S. average. If you hover over counties in the Midwest you will discover that most Midwest counties actually have a diversity score lower than the national average.

You can see on the map that the majority of counties in south Texas are becoming less diverse. The majority of the population in most of these counties are Hispanic and the percentage of the local Hispanic population has grown since 2009.

If you want to explore the diversity of America in more detail then you should have a look at National Geographic's interactive map which visualizes the racial diversity of America block by block. National Geographic's map provides a fascinating insight into the diversity of American towns and cities and also reveals how these same towns and cities are often sharply divided along racial lines.

Back in 2013 the University of Virginia made the Racial Dot Map, a Google Map which shows the geographic distribution, population density, and racial diversity of the USA. The Racial Dot Map uses data from the 2010 US census, with each of the 308,745,538 dots representing the location and race of one American citizen.

The National Geographic map uses the same 2010 census data, as geographically refined by the University of Virginia Demographics Research Group and the University of Minnesota. Where we Live, Block by Block colors each census tract by the majority racial / ethnic group in the block. Using the map you can therefore zoom in on any city or town in the USA to view the racial diversity of the local neighborhoods.

The National Geographic map also includes a number of guided tours of American cities and regions that have an interesting history of racial diversity. These tours explore the current racial diversity of these areas and often attempt to explain the historical reasons for the observed patterns of local racial diversity.

The Integrated European Energy Network

Energy infrastructure in Europe is becoming increasingly integrated. The European Union is supporting the development of this integrated infrastructure with 173 projects of common interest (PCI). These projects are designed to support and develop the integration of the electricity, gas and oil markets in Europe.

The Projects of Common Interest interactive map visualizes the 173 PCI projects supported by the European Union. On the map these energy infrastructure projects are color-coded by type of energy. The blue lines indicate where high voltage lines have been developed to enable electricity supply between different European countries. The red lines on the map show the development of cross border gas pipelines.

If you select the 'Network' tab on the map legend then you can select to view either the electricity, gas or oil networks on the map. This is useful if you just want to highlight and view the European infrastructure projects being developed in one of these specific energy markets.

The PCI projects are of course only a very small part of a much larger network of electricity, gas and oil supply in Europe. The ENTSO-E Transmission System Map provides a neat visualization of the scale of Europe'e electricity transmission network.

On this map you can see all European transmission lines which are designed for 220kV voltage and higher and all the generation stations which have a net generation capacity of more than 100MW. On the map the transmission lines are color-coded to show their level of voltage. All undersea transmission lines are colored purple.

You can see how individual country electricity networks are connected to the networks of neighboring countries by selecting to view only cross border transmission lines. This will filter out all the lines on the map except for those which are used to transport electricity between two or more countries.

Thursday, July 04, 2019

Where Overseas Students Study

Universities make a huge amount of money from enrolling and teaching students from overseas. In the USA the vast majority of overseas students come from China. India sends the second largest number of students to study in America.

UNESCO's Global Flow of Tertiary-Level Students is an interactive map which visualizes the flow of students around the world. The map allows you to view the number of overseas students studying in every country around the world and where those students come from. It also allows you to see the most popular destinations for students from each country choosing to study abroad.

China exports by far the most students of any country in the world. The USA is the most popular destination for Chinese students studying abroad (309,837 students). Australia (128,498) is the next most popular country for overseas students from China, followed by the United Kingdom (89,318) and Japan (76,537).

According to the map nearly 73,000 Americans choose to study abroad. The most popular destination for Americans studying abroad is the United Kingdom (15,654), followed by Mexico (11,109), Canada (8,355) and Grenada (4,855). Without wishing to upset Grenadians I was a little surprised that Grenada was such a popular choice for Americans studying abroad. I therefore Googled "Why do Americans study in Grenada?". Although I couldn't find a direct answer to the question I did receive a lot of results about studying for a medical degree in Grenada. I therefore suspect that Grenada is a popular choice for students who wish to become doctors but can't get a place at one of the U.S.'s hugely competitive medical schools.

Who Owns London?

Secret Property Ownership in London is a choropleth map of the number of properties in each London authority area which are owned by companies incorporated in secrecy jurisdictions. A 'secrecy jurisdiction' is what is more commonly referred to as a 'tax haven'. In other words a secrecy jurisdiction is a country which offers a company little or no tax liability and financial secrecy. A secrecy jurisdiction is therefore used by companies in order to avoid paying tax.

Because properties in the UK can be registered to companies who are incorporated in secrecy jurisdictions buying property in the UK is a convenient way for criminals and criminal gangs to launder money. 40% of all the anonymously owned properties owned in the UK are in London. By far the largest number of these are in Westminster, where over 10,000 properties are registered to companies incorporated in a secrecy jurisdiction. In neighboring Kensington and Chelsea a further 5,729 properties are anonymously owned.

Last year the BBC discovered that 97,000 properties in England and Wales are owned by overseas companies. In Firms on Caribbean island chain own 23,000 UK properties the BBC has mapped all the properties in England & Wales which are owned by these overseas companies.

The map reveals that in central London a huge percentage of properties are now owned by overseas firms. If you want to know who owns a property you can click on the map marker to reveal the name of the company and the country where that country is incorporated. Unfortunately if that company is incorporated in a tax haven then you probably won't be able to find out who actually owns the company and therefore whether that company is being used to launder money for criminal gangs.

Back in 2015 Private Eye created the first interactive map showing the amount of English & Welsh land that had been bought up by offshore companies. Selling England by the Offshore Pound used Land Registry data to plot all land parcels registered in the name of an offshore company between 2005 and July 2014.

Anna Powell-Smith, who created the map for Private Eye, went on to create Who Owns England.Who Owns England has created a number of interactive maps exploring property and land ownership in he UK. Their main map includes a layer which shows land owned by overseas companies. You can filter the map to show only the land and buildings owned by these companies incorporated overseas.

Wednesday, July 03, 2019

Germany in Black and White

Spiegel Online has published a fascinating article exploring the history of German cityscapes and town-planning. The article uses black and white maps to visualize the changing trends in town planning. These city blueprints reveal how German towns and cities have developed over time, both organically and from ordered imposed planning.

Germany in Black and White uses OpenStreetMap data to show the building outlines and street patterns of a number of German towns and cities. The article examines the history of German towns in chronological order - starting with towns which first emerged in Roman times. Only a few German towns still retain the influence of Roman organization. However the rectangular layout typical of Roman camps, the orderly road network and the former city gates of Roman camps can still be seen in the layout of some of Germany's most historic towns.

In the middle-ages the orderly planning of the Romans gave way to a more organic form of development. In medieval towns winding narrow streets snaking around market squares and churches reveal towns which developed gradually and with little formal planning. 

During the Baroque period the idea of structured formal planning re-emerged with a trend to replace some medieval city centers with imposing large buildings and ordered geometric street patterns. During industrialization the huge increases in the urban population led to the development of densely packed housing. In the 20th century there were numerous different trends in town-planning. All of which have left a mark on the footprint of German towns and cities.

Germany in Black and White includes an interactive blueprint map. This map allows you to explore a black and white map of any German town and city. You can therefore apply what you have learnt from the article to see if you can spot the influence of history on the footprint of your own city.

Tuesday, July 02, 2019

Race & Ethnicity in San Francisco

San Francisco Geo-Ethnicities uses 2017 data from the American Community Survey to map out where people of different races and ethnicity live in San Francisco and in the wider Bay area.

The default map view shows the race/ethnicity which has the highest percentage of the overall population in each census area. The map also allows you to create your own map views to explore the proportion of different races/ethnicities in each census area. Adding and removing data from the map can be a little difficult so you might be interested in reading the Geo-Ethnicities article in the San Franciscan, which has printed a number of choropleth maps visualizing where different races live in San Francisco.

percentage of the population who are Asian

The map above shows the percentage of the population who are Asian in each census block. Chinatown and the surrounding neighborhoods stand out as having larger than average Asian populations.

percentage of the population who are black

The only neighborhoods where African-Americans are the largest racial/ethnic group are in the Western Addition and in Bayview-Hunter's Point.

The article in the San Franciscan also includes a map showing the average household income in each census block. This obviously allows you to compare average income and the racial composition in each census block.