Saturday, November 30, 2019

First Person Mapping

Gewimmel am Himmel is a very impressive interactive map which provides a first person view of flight traffic for any location in Switzerland. As well as providing a unique first person view the map also provides you with a detailed assessment of the major airline routes flying over Switzerland and where all these planes are flying to and from.

Once you select a location in Switzerland the major flight routes which fly over that location are shown using a normal top down map view. However as you continue scrolling the map perspective changes to show you a first person view, from the ground looking up. In this first person view the terrain around you is shown in 3D and above you, you can now see the major flight routes as they appear in the sky.

If you continue scrolling you can learn more about each of the flight routes which are shown in the sky above you. Information panels on the map provide details on where planes using these routes are flying from and where they are flying to. As you scroll further you can even watch a whole day's worth of flight traffic animated on the map. Not only can you watch this animation of flight traffic at your chosen location (in fast-forward) you can also discover details on the number of flights, the most popular destinations and the number of passengers at the nearest three international airports to your selected location.

Gewimmel am Himmel truly is an impressive map. Under the hood the mapping is handled by Mapbox GL but the heavy lifting of the first person perspective and 3D terrain is carried out by three.js.

Friday, November 29, 2019

Borneo is Burning

If you search through your bathroom and kitchen cupboards you will almost certainly find a number of products which contain palm oil. Which means that you are indirectly responsible for the burning of the rain forests in South-East Asia. Palm oil is an ingredient in nearly half of all packaged products that you buy from your local supermarket. It can be found in pizzas, doughnuts, chocolate, shampoo, toothpaste and even in make-up.

85% of the world's palm oil comes from South-East Asia. This palm oil is produced by destroying the rain forests and the habitats of endangered species like the orangutan, the Sumatran rhino and the pygmy elephant. Which is why your consumption of palm oil is an environmental and natural tragedy.

In a special report, Borneo is Burning, CNN uses a story map format to explain how the consumption of palm oil is causing the destruction of Indonesia's rainforests. In order to clear land to grow oil palms farmers light illegal fires. And it isn't just the rainforests which are burning. This is a double whammy of an environmental crisis, because these fires are also destroying the peatlands that lie beneath the forests. Peatlands which are the world’s largest natural terrestrial carbon sink.

And it doesn't stop there. The illegal fires started by palm oil farmers has produced smoke which has spread across South-East Asia where it has affected the health of people living in Indonesia, Java, Singapore and Malaysia. This summer, in Indonesia alone, 920,000 people were treated for acute respiratory problems caused by the smoke from the burning of rainforests.

And we still haven't finished. By destroying the rainforests palm oil farmers are also destroying the natural habitats of orangutans and many other animal and plant species. In fact the scale of deforestation in Borneo means that the orangutan is now one of the most endangered species on the planet. Mainly so that we can have clean hair and eat crappy pizzas.

In 1973 three quarters of Borneo was covered by tropical forest. Since 1973 over one third of that forest has been lost due to industrial logging and the spread of industrial oil palm and pulpwood plantations. The Atlas of Deforestation and Industrial Plantations in Borneo shows where Borneo's tropical forests have been lost and the incredible scale of this continuing deforestation. The Atlas also visualizes the loss of rainforests in Papua.

So far the Papua region has managed to avoid the scale of destruction witnessed on the island of Borneo. However the government of Indonesia has now decided to accelerate infrastructure development in the Papua region. The Papua Atlas allows users to track the now accelerated rate of forest loss, plantation & mine development, and road construction in Papua.

Hyperlapse of London

Video driving, walking or cycling directions is one of those ideas which sounds fantastic in principle and often looks amazing and engaging in practice. However it is also one of those amazing ideas which no-one has been able to develop into a feasible business. Maybe HyperlapseMap will be the exception to the rule.

HyperlapseMap allows you to explore London on an interactive map of video routes. Click on the blue markers on the map and you can view a hyperlapse video of the route (shown on the map by a blue line). As the video plays you can use the arrow keys to change directions. Press left or right and at the next junction the video will change to show the new selected route.

Perhaps the most popular video map I know of was the now defunct Cyclodeo. Cyclodeo used videos synchronized with an interactive map in order to allow cyclists to preview cycling routes across the world. In the end Cyclodeo had video coverage in a number of major global cities. However the fact that the website has now dived into the dead-pool suggests that it didn't generate enough users to become a viable concern. Although Cyclodeo is now gone you can still view the thousands of cycling routes captured on video on the Cyclodeo YouTube channel.

While a 'Street View' type video map has never yet managed to capture the public's imagination Mapillary has proved that there is a viable business in capturing and mapping street level imagery around the world. I suspect that Mapillary's success has been due in large part to its success in crowdsourcing that street level imagery.

If HyperlapseMap is to be as successful as Mapillary then it also needs to be successful in attracting crowdsourced videos. At the moment HyperlapseMap says you can submit videos shot on a stabilized camera by uploading the video to YouTube and drawing the route on a Google Map. You then just need to send a link to the video and map to HyperlapseMap. Currently that process seems to have too many barriers for users. For crowdsourcing to really take off I suspect HyperlapseMap needs to develop a simple system where users can upload videos to Hyperlapse itself and draw the outline of the route submitted on an interactive map.

I really hope HyperlapseMap succeeds. These hyped-up videos of London are a great way to explore the city in double quick time and from anywhere in the world. It would be fantastic to be able to explore other cities around the world on HyperlapseMap if it can successfully generate user submitted crowdsourced content.

Thursday, November 28, 2019

The Tax Haven Atlas

The British Virgin Islands, Bermuda and the Cayman Islands have been named the top three corporate tax havens in 2019. These three countries are judged by the Tax Justice Network to be the countries who have most helped multinational corporations hide their money and avoid paying their way around the world.

The Corporate Tax Haven Index 2019 is an interactive map of the Tax Justice Network's rankings of the world’s biggest tax havens. These are the countries that the Tax Justice Network believe are most responsible in helping multinational corporations avoid paying tax and eroding the tax revenues of countries around the world.

A country's Tax Haven Index rank is determined from a combination of two different scores. One score is awarded based on how much a country has eroded its own laws in order to attract corporations looking to avoid paying tax. The other score is based on how much financial activity there is from multinational corporations in a country.

Nearly 10% of the world’s wealth is hidden in offshore tax havens by a few individuals. Multinational companies hide nearly 40% of their profits in these same tax havens. You can find out how much each country around the world is losing in corporate tax revenue on the Missing Profits interactive map. Losses that you and I have to pay for in our own tax bills.

Researchers from the University of California and the University of Copenhagen have estimated the amount of money hidden in tax havens by multinational companies and how much each country loses in tax revenue from this tax avoidance. Countries on the Missing Profits interactive map are colored to show the percentage of tax revenue lost because of money hidden in tax havens. If you click on a country on a map you can find out in which offshore tax havens the corporate tax revenue loss ends up. For example the United States loses 17% of corporate tax revenue because of corporate tax avoidance.

The Archaeology of London

The Archaeology of Greater London is an interactive map of London archaeological finds from pre-historic times, through the arrival of the Romans right up until the Middle Ages. Even if you aren't particularly interested in archaeology the map provides a fascinating insight into how London has developed as a city since the arrival of the Romans in 47 AD.

The Archaeology of Greater London map is organized into four distinct historical eras: the prehistoric, Roman, Saxon and Medieval. Each historical period has its own map providing an overview of the density of archaeological finds that have been discovered in London from that era of history. If you zoom in on the map colored markers are used to indicate the types of find discovered at different locations in the city.

The map for each historical period also reflects the layout of London during that era. For example the course of the Thames and London's many lost rivers are shown as they were at the time. The city's boundaries are shown as they were during that time in London's history and contemporaneous place-names are also used (for example the Medieval 'Eastceape' instead of 'Eastcheap').

The Archaeology of Greater London was created by the Museum of London Archaeology.

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

The Assassination of John F. Kennedy

Last Friday was the anniversary of the assassination of John F. Kennedy. The Sixth Floor Museum has released an interactive story map which recounts the events of November 22, 1963 in Dallas, Texas. Eyewitness to History: An Interactive Map of the Kennedy Motorcade provides a step-by-step guide to the day's events from the President's arrival at Dallas Love Field to his assassination at Dealey Plaza.

The map uses film, photos and oral histories to retell the story of the Kennedy's arrival at Dallas Lover Field, their journey through Dallas and John F. Kennedy's assassination in Dealey Plaza. As you follow the path of the President's motorcade home movies and photographs are used to document the journey. These are accompanied by a number of eyewitness accounts from individuals who turned out on the day to see the President pass through their neighborhoods.

Obviously this map can be upsetting and it does include home movie footage of the shooting itself.

The Shocking Retreat of Swiss Glaciers

Last month John Nelson discovered a really interesting new use for a georeference tool. There are lots of georeference tools, such as Map Warper, which can be used to digitize vintage maps by overlaying them on top of a modern interactive map. In Misusing the Georeference Tool for Historic Image Alignment John shows how he used Esri's georeference tool to align a vintage photograph of the Mer de Glace glacier with a modern photograph which was taken from almost the exact same spot.

By aligning the old and new photos more accurately John was able to provide a much more effective 'before & after' visualization of the glacier's demise.

It is a real shame that Reuters didn't copy John Nelson's approach in their article New photos vs old: comparisons show dramatic Swiss glacier retreat. The article includes some stunning images of the dramatic loss of Swiss glaciers. Unfortunately these photos are presented really terribly by Reuters in their article.

Photographer Denis Balibouse searched through a number of online libraries to find historical, vintage photographs of Swiss glaciers. He then traveled around Switzerland to try and recreate the exact same views as they can be seen today. The result is a series of old and new photos which reveal the drastic reduction of the glaciers as a result of global heating. Unfortunately the Reuters article really doesn't present the old and new photographs in a way that allows for easy side-by-side comparisons. This is a real shame as the photos themselves are really fantastic (and really disturbing).

You can view a number of better visualizations of the retreat of Switzerland's glaciers in Mapping Shrinking Glaciers.

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Mapping Your Thanksgiving Journeys & Meals

Around 46 million turkeys are eaten every Thanksgiving. A large proportion of those turkeys come from Minnesota, North Carolina, Arkansas, and Indiana. There is a very big chance that your sweet potatoes come from North Carolina. The state grows more than half of all America's sweet potato crop.

If you want to know more about the geography of your Thanksgiving meal then you should explore Esri's Mapping the Thanksgiving Harvest. This interactive map shows where your turkey, cranberries, sweet potatoes, potatoes, green beans, brussels sprouts, pumpkins and pecans were reared or grown.

What you actually eat for your traditional Thanksgiving meal will also be influenced by geography. For example if you live in the north or west then you will probably have cranberry sauce with your turkey; while those who live in the southern states will mostly be enjoying sweet potato casserole. Nearly everyone will be eating turkey. But how you prepare your turkey can also be shaped by where you live. Tell me if your turkey is smoked, roasted or fried and I can probably tell you if you come from the mid-west, the east coast or California.

If you want to know more about how where you live shapes your Thanksgiving menu then you should refer to the LA Times. The Los Angeles Times has used data from Google to determine the Thanksgiving foods searched for in different regions of the United States. You can read the results of their analysis in What will be on your Thanksgiving plate? It depends on where you’ll be. The article includes a little tool which can show you the Thanksgiving foods that are most searched for in any state.

Of course before sitting down to a Thanksgiving meal on Thursday many Americans will be traveling huge distances tomorrow in order to be with their loved ones for Thanksgiving. Back in 2015 Google Trends published an animated map showing people traveling across the USA to get to their Thanksgiving Day dinners. US Thanksgiving on Google Flights uses CartoDB's Torque library to animate domestic and international air travel on the eve of Thanksgiving booked through Google Flights.

You can use the playback control to navigate through the whole of the day's plane journeys. As the day plays out you can see a clear pattern of flights starting on the east coast in the early hours, spreading to the whole country, until the latter hours of the day when flights emanating from the east of the country die down, while flights from the west coast carry on until the early hours of Thursday.

The flight markers on the map are colored to represent the different airlines.

The High Cost of Rent in Germany

The ever rising cost of renting accommodation in Germany has become a hot political issue. German newspaper Zeit has used national real-estate data to map the average cost of renting across the whole of Germany and to show how those rental costs have risen over the last eight years.

Zeit's interactive map How Expensive is Living in Germany? visualizes the average rent charged in towns across the whole country. On the map individual German municipalities are colored to show the average rental cost of properties by square meter. If you click on an individual municipality on the map you can view the exact rental cost per square meter and a graph showing the increasing cost of renting in the municipality over time.

Rents in the former East Germany are still relatively cheap compared to those in western and southern Germany. However in East Germany rents in many areas have risen significantly in the last eight years. Rents in city suburbs are also still often cheaper than rents in the center of German cities but again rents in the suburbs have mostly risen sharply since 2012. Munich is the most expensive city in which to rent a property in Germany. In fact Bavaria as a whole contains some of the most expensive towns to live in, in the whole of the country.

Monday, November 25, 2019

Superfund Sites & Climate Change

Superfund sites are locations in the United State polluted by hazardous contaminated material. There are 40,000 federal Superfund sites across the whole USA. Currently over 1,300 of those Superfund sites are on the National Priorities List. This list includes sites which are so contaminated that they require significant cleanup.

Last week the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) announced that many Superfund sites are at threat from climate change and that the EPA needs to take additional action to manage the risks associated with global heating. The GAO report is accompanied by an interactive map, Superfund Sites and Climate Change, which shows the locations of Superfund sites which could be exposed to significant risk from wildfires and/or flooding. These are sites where wildfire or flooding could lead to the release of hazardous contaminated material into the environment.

Superfund sites are color-coded on the map by the major environmental risk at that location. Those risks include wildfire, flooding, storm surge and sea level rise. If you click on a site's marker on the map you can view details on the name of the site and the natural hazards that it is most at risk from.

You can view the GAO's full report into the threat of climate change to Superfund sites at
Superfund - EPA Should Take Additional Actions to Manage Risks from Climate Change.

Mapping the Spanish Diaspora

According to Spain's Institute of National Statistics there are over 2,100,000 Spaniards who are registered to vote abroad. The institute's database of oversea voters provides a unique insight into where Spanish people choose to live across the world. Obviously not every Spaniard who lives abroad has registered to vote in Spanish elections. However the Electoral Census of Spaniards Living Abroad is probably the largest accurate dataset of where emigre Spaniards live around the globe.

Absent Spanish is an interactive map of the Electoral Census of Spaniards Living Abroad. The map uses scaled markers to show the number of Spanish people living in different countries. Argentina is the country with the most overseas Spaniards registered to vote. According to the database 420,000 Spaniards are registered to vote in Argentina. That is almost double the number of Spaniards who have registered in the second most popular country of France (220,000 Spaniards).

European and Latin American countries appear to be the most popular destinations for Spaniards living abroad. The United States is also a popular destination for emigre Spaniards. Africa and Asia really aren't popular choices for Spaniards who choose to live abroad.

Saturday, November 23, 2019

The Men and Women of Europe

The task on Day 23 of the #30DayMapChallenge is to create a population map. I've seen a lot of population density maps over the years. One of my favorites is the SEDAC Population Estimator (GPWv4), which uses NASA's Earth Observing System Data and Information System (EOSDIS) data to show where the world's population lives.

A recent trend in interactive maps is to use height as a measure of population density. For example the Saint Petersburg Population Mountains map visualizes population in the Russian city as 3D colored hexagons. Another good example is Topi Tjukanov's 3D Global Human Settlement, a three.js powered mapped visualization of European population data, in which population is expressed as elevation. The Pudding's Human Terrain interactive map takes a similar approach to mapping the world's population. The Human Terrain map shows population density across the globe using 3D population pyramids.

One of the most interesting population themed maps that I've seen posted today is this Male to Female Ratio in Europe map. This interactive map uses 2018 Eurostat data to visualize the ratio of women to men in each European Union region. On the map individual regions are colored to show the ratio of men to women. Blue shades show the areas with more men and the pink shades show the regions where there are more women.

One thing that stands out on the map is the relatively high ratio of men to women in Scandinavian countries. I assume that the high ratio of women to men in most European countries is partly due to higher life expectancy among women in those countries. I guess male life expectancy could be catching up with female life expectancy in northern Europe. Another factor that might be at play in Scandinavia is immigration (as male immigration tends to outnumber female immigration).

Friday, November 22, 2019

Mapping Coastal Erosion

There are lots of maps which help to visualize the danger of rising sea levels to coastal communities. In particular Climate Central's new interactive Coastal Risk Screening Tool is a great way to discover which areas of the world are most at risk from the threat of rising seas levels. The Climate Central map shows all land across the globe which is predicted to be below annual flood levels in 2050.

In the UK a number of towns are at risk from both rising sea levels and coastal erosion. Living on the Edge maps the 10 most at risk coastal locations in the UK. For each of these ten locations has created an animated map which visualizes how much land the sea is likely to steal in the next one hundred years. The ten individual maps show the sea washing over the land as time passes and provide information on the amount of shoreline which is likely to be eroded in 20, 50 and 100 years time.

Each of the coastal erosion maps also provides details on the number of properties in the effected area and the likely rebuild cost for a property in this location. Of course, being an insurance provider, also provide information in the average premium for insuring a property in the effected area.

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

The United States of Americano

Thinknum has mapped out six of America's largest coffee chains. 22,842 Coffee Shops of America is an interactive map which shows the location of coffee shops belonging to Starbucks, Dunkin Donuts, Caribou Coffee, Tully's, Peet's, Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf and Baskin-Robbins. Some of these chains are national while some are much more regionally based.

the distribution of Dunkin Donuts

Exploring the distribution of individual coffee shop chains can be quite interesting. For example, Dunkin Donuts really hates the northwest, Caribou Coffee really loves Minnesota and nowhere is safe from the ubiquitous reach of Starbucks.

Starbucks (13,000 restaurants) and Dunkin Donuts (8,500 restaurants) are America's largest coffee shop chains. Starbucks started on the West Coast and Dunkin Donuts originated in the northeast. Even though both chains have expanded across the globe it is interesting to note that you can still see the geographical influence of their founding locations on the spatial distribution of their restaurants across America. This trend was even more noticeable six years ago when created a number of heat maps showing the distribution of Starbucks and Dunkin' Donuts across the USA. That 2013 article explores how both companies expanded across the U.S. from opposite sides of the country.

Cool Walks in Barcelona

I have only ever visited Barcelona in the extreme heat of summer. Walking around the city has therefore always been combined with a constant search for shade and an attempt to avoid direct sunlight by walking as much as possible in the shadows of buildings. Unfortunately when I visited Barcelona the Cool Walks interactive map didn't exist.

Cool Walks is a new route-planning tool which can help you find walking routes across Barcelona which prioritize shady sidewalks and the locations of drinking fountains. Enter your starting point and destination into Cool Routes and it will show you a route which avoids direct sunlight as much as possible.

Cool Routes has a number of options for those who wish to avoid the sun while navigating Barcelona. For example you can enter the time of day that you will be walking so that the direction of building shadows will be taken into account when optimizing your cool route. You can then choose to find the 'shortest path' (Cool Routes won't look for shade and will just give you the quickest route), the 'shady path' (a route which tries to avoid the sun) or 'Vampire mode' (which will avoid sunlight at all costs). Cool Walks also knows the location of the city's drinking fountains. If you select the 'drinking fountain' option Cool Routes will attempt to show you a route which passes a fountain.

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

The Digital Reconstruction of Shuri Castle

At the end of October one of the most iconic buildings in Okinawa, Japan was destroyed by fire. The Shuri Castle was originally built around 500 years ago, although the original building was destroyed by fire in World War II. The reconstructed castle has now met a similar fate. The Okinawa local government has already started talking about a new reconstruction project and there is also a popular crowdsourced fundraising campaign in Japan to raise funds for a reconstruction of the castle.

Digital Reconstruction from Crowdsourced Photogrammetry is an interactive story map which allows you to explore a 3D model of the pre-fire Shuri Castle. The 3D model was created by volunteers using photos and videos of the castle. More photos and videos of the castle are still being sought in order to improve the quality of the 3D model.

The map itself uses the new Mapbox Scrollytelling Template to create a guided tour of the castle. The Scrollytelling Template can be used to create 'scrollytelling' map stories. It is used on this map to zoom-in and explore some of the features of Shuri Castle and the extent of the destruction caused by the 31st October fire. The map also relies on Uber's library in presenting the 3D model of the castle.

If you want to make your own Mapbox map featuring a 3D model then you can also use three.js, as in this Mapbox demo maps example, Add a 3D Model.

Monday, November 18, 2019

Greece's Refugees

In the last few months the number of refugees arriving in Greece has surged. Greek refugee camps are now filled beyond capacity. For example there are currently around 16,924 immigrants on Lesbos. The island is equipped to host around 3,000 refugees at most.

The UN Refugee Agency's Operational Portal has an interactive map visualizing the number of refugees arriving on each of Greece's islands. The map is accompanied by a series of graphs showing the total number of arrivals in Greece in 2019 by land and by sea. So far this year there have been a total of 59,448 refugee arrivals. 16,861 of those were from Afghanistan and 12,452 originally came from Syria.

You can read more about the conditions in Greece's overcrowded migrant camps on the UN Refugee Agency's article Lone Children Face Insecurity on Greek Island.

The UNHCR data on refugee movements is available under a Creative Commons license and has been used in many interactive maps. You can view a number of these mapped visualizations of refugee movements in The Movement of Refugees Around the World.

The Hong Kong Tear Gas Heat Map

Currently the map is showing a lot of activity around the Hong Kong Polytechnic University, where police have trapped hundreds of activists. The police have today been firing tear gas canisters at demonstrators who have gathered to protest at the police siege of the campus. Just yesterday the creators of the crowdsourced Hong Kong police tracking map, released a heat-map visualizing the locations where tear gas has been deployed in Hong Kong from August 5th to November 15th. is a crowdsourced map which reports the live position of the police in Hong Kong. On the map different emojis are used to show the location of the police across the city. Registered users can use the Telegram messaging application to report locations where the police are currently using violence against protesters. The application is widely used by Hong Kong residents who wish to avoid the violent clashes between the police and protesters in the city.

The Tear Gas Deployed in Hong Kong static map is a crowdsourced map showing where the Hong Kong police have fired tear gas. It is important to note that the heat-map doesn't show the actual number of tear gas canisters fired by the police. The heat-map intensity is instead based on the numbers of users who have reported a tear gas canister fired at a location. It is still useful therefore in helping to identify the locations in Hong Kong which have witnessed the most violent clashes between the police and pro-democracy protesters.

Saturday, November 16, 2019

The Biggest Plastic Polluting Brands

In September volunteers around the world took part in an audit of plastic litter. Nearly half a million pieces of plastic waste were collected in 51 different countries. 43% of those individual pieces of plastic were clearly marked with a consumer brand. The top global plastic polluter around the world, according to the audit, was Coca Cola. This is the second year in a row that Coca Cola was the largest plastic polluter, based on the results of the World Clean Up Day audit. 11,732 pieces of Coca Cola branded plastics were found in total. This is more than the next three top brands combined.

The Biggest Plastic Polluters interactive map allows you to view the levels of plastic found in countries around the world. The map uses colored scaled markers to show the amount of plastic picked up in all 51 countries who took part in the audit. You can view the 'Grand Total' of all plastic found in each county or view maps of the 'Coca Cola', 'Nestle', or 'Pepsi' branded plastics found in each country.

The map itself you can take with a pinch of salt. Obviously the totals found in each country are somewhat dependent on the number of volunteers who took part in the audit in each country. The largest markers therefore don't necessarily show the countries producing the largest amount of plastic waste. However it is interesting to see how much the different branded plastics make up of the total number of plastics found in each country.

The Ocean Cleanup probably provides a more scientific assessment of plastic pollution levels around the world. The Ocean Cleanup claims that "80% of river plastic pollution entering the world's oceans stem from 1000 rivers". In Plastic Sources the organization has mapped out what they say are the world's 1,000 most polluting rivers and the 30,000 rivers responsible for the other 20% of the plastic entering our oceans.

Currently the map includes very little information on how the organization calculates the amount of plastic waste distributed by each river or how they determine which are the most polluted rivers. The organization says that their model is based on data on 'plastic waste, land-use, wind, precipitation and rivers' but not where that data comes from. It does say that "Detailed information on our modeling approach and data will follow in our scientific update."

Litterbase is another organization which is attempting to determine the source of the plastic pollution found in the world's oceans. Currently Litterbase provides a summarized overview of the results from over 1,900 studies into the amount and composition of litter and its effect on marine environments. An example of one of these summaries is Distribution of Litter Types in Different Realms, which is an interactive map created from the results of 916 scientific publications on the amount, distribution and composition of litter in the world's oceans.

There are gaps in our knowledge where little scientific research has taken place, for example around Africa and the Polar regions. One way that we can fill in these gaps in our knowledge is by modeling the density of pollution in the oceans based on the results of scientific studies. Sailing Seas of Plastic is a dot density map which shows the estimated concentration of floating plastic in the oceans based on the results of 24 survey expeditions (2007-2013) and on wind and ocean drift models.

Each dot on the Sailing Seas of Plastic map represents 20 kg of floating plastic. According to the map there are 5,250 billion pieces of plastic adrift on the seas of the world. If you want you can also overlay the sailing tracks of the 24 survey expeditions on top of the dot map.

Friday, November 15, 2019

The Moscow Building Age Map

While there have been lots and lots of interactive building age maps released over the last few years very few of these maps have been used to explain the history of construction within individual cities. This is a real shame because these maps obviously have important stories to tell about how towns and cities have developed over time.

That is why I really like the History of Moscow Housing on an Interactive Map. The History of Moscow Housing on an Interactive Map is an exploration of how housing has developed in the Russian capital over the last few centuries. On the map individual buildings are colored to show their year of construction. It is also possible to select individual buildings on the map to view the year that they were built. The time slider at the bottom of the map allows you to view houses built during different time periods.

As well as the interactive map the article includes a graph showing the number of residential houses built in Moscow by year of construction. This graph reveals that the post-war years of 1950-1980 were the most active years for residential development in the capital. Under Khrushchev there was a big drive to construct new homes in Moscow. Under Brezhnev, the pace of construction declined and continued to decrease until the mid-1990s.

The History of Moscow Housing on an Interactive Map was built with the help of Yandex Real Estate. The real estate company says that the age of a home has a big influence on a property's popularity with buyers and/or tenants.

This isn't the first time that Moscow's building ages has been mapped. Mercator's Houses of Moscow also maps the ages of all of Moscow's buildings.

There Are No Streets in Crawley

Since September I've been trying to prove a theory that there are very few new streets in Britain. My theory is that very few roads built after 1800 are called "... Street". Britain has lots of post-1800 roads, avenues, closes, courts and lanes. I believe it has very few new streets. For some reason since 1800 town planners in Britain have taken a strong dislike to calling roads '... Street'.

Today's #30DayMapChallenge is to create a map related to names. I've taken this as an opportunity to put my street theory to the test by exploring the number of 'Streets' and 'Roads' in a UK town largely built after 1800. The new town of Crawley in West Sussex was developed after the Second World War. If my theory is true it should therefore have very few roads names 'Street'.

There Are No Streets in Crawley is an interactive map which colors all roads in Crawley yellow and all streets red. Of the hundreds of roads in Crawley only five of them are named as streets: 'High Street', 'Church Street', 'West Street', 'New Street' and 'Ifield Street'. I don't know old these streets are  but I think all five of them existed before the new town of Crawley was built. I believe all five streets in Crawley can be found on this 1896 Ordnance Survey Map. It is therefore very likely that all five of them pre-date 1800. On the other hand, while there only five roads named 'Street' in Crawley, there are lots of streets named 'Road'. It does appear that the Crawley town planners had a real dislike for 'Street'.

If you want more proof of my theory that we don't call roads 'Street' any more then you can explore the distribution of streets and roads in some of the UK's medieval cities in Medieval Streets and Modern Roads. In this post I looked at how roads named 'Street' tend to be found in the old city centers. These centers also contain very few roads. However city suburbs, mostly built after 1800, have lots of streets named 'Road' and very few named 'Street'.

Obviously the name of my interactive map is a misnomer and it should be called 'There Are Five Streets in Crawley'. However it is true that There Are No Roads in London.

Thursday, November 14, 2019

Cattle & Deforestation in the Amazon

The large number of fires in the Amazon this summer were closely linked to an increase in deforestation. Most of the areas which have recorded the largest number of fires in 2019 have also had the largest number of deforestation warnings. One of the most common causes of deforestation in the Amazon is the increase in cattle farming.

InfoAmazonia and China Dialogue have created an interactive map to visualize the expansion of cattle in the Amazon biome. The interactive map in Rising Beef Demand Linked to Amazon Deforestation colors municipalities by the number of cattle. If you hover over a municipality on the map you can view a graph showing the rise or fall of cattle farming in the region over time. The map also shows the locations of slaughterhouses in the biome.

The China Dialogue article accompanying the map explores the growing consumption of beef in China. This growing demand for beef in China is responsible for much of the expansion in cattle farming in the Amazon region. Exports of beef to China account for 38.2% of Brazilian sales of packed meat. In comparison the USA accounts for 2.7% of Brazilian exports of packed meat

UK Rain, River Levels and Snow

This week a number of locations in the UK have experienced severe flooding. The UK Environment Agency has warned that with heavy rain forecast in some areas over the next four days that further flooding is expected, particularly in South Yorkshire. People in Lincolnshire and the Midlands should also remain aware that flooding may be a risk over the next few days.

The UK government's Flood Warnings for England map shows the locations in England where flood warnings are currently in operation. If you click through on a flood warning's marker on the map you can read more on local river levels and high tides. You can also read about the forecast flood risk and the latest advice to people living in the effected area. If you zoom in on the Flood Warnings for England map you can also view colored polygons showing the areas where flood warnings and flood alerts currently apply.

If you live near a river then as well as referring to the government's Flood Warnings map you might also want to check out this interactive map of river level monitoring stations. River Levels UK maps river gauges using colored arrows. The direction of the arrows show whether the river levels are currently rising or falling. The red arrows indicate that the current level is higher than normal for that location, while green arrows indicate river levels lower than normal. If you click through on a gauge's link you can view more details, such as the time of the latest river level reading.

The government's own River and Sea Levels map also shows the latest measurements from river level monitoring stations. On this map the monitoring stations are colored to show gauges where flooding is possible and where flooding isn't currently a concern. If you click through on a gauge's link on the map you can view a chart of the gauge's measurements over the last five days. This chart includes a line which shows the levels at which flooding becomes possible at that location.

While many areas of the UK experienced heavy rain overnight, some areas have also seen their first snow of the winter. The #uksnow Map uses crowdsourced Tweets to map the location and levels of snow. According the the #uksnow Map snow has fallen in a narrow band from Oxford to Bristol.

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Tracking Tropical Storm Fengshen

Typhoon Tracking is an interactive map which shows the projected path of tropical storm Fengshen. The map combines an overlay of the storm's predicted path with a movie of how the storm appears from the Himawari-9 satellite. The predicted path was downloaded from the Joint Typhoon Warning Center. The video of the storm was created using images from the Himawari-8 Real-time Web website.

I created this map to meet Day 13's 'tracking' map task in the #30DayMapChallenge I really don't like the map very much but it has taken me far too long creating this already and I haven't got any more time to spare today to improve the map. One big mistake I made in making the map was to add the storm's track to a map style in Mapbox Studio. This means that the track is part of the base-map and appears below the video layer. If I had some more time I would add the storm's track as a layer above the video layer, so that the track isn't hidden behind the video.

If I had a lot more time I might also play around with the color values in the satellite images so that the created animated video blends more seamlessly with the sea color in the background Mapbox satellite map layer.

If you want to create your own video overlay map using Mapbox GL then you should have a look at this video overlay demo map from the Mapbox GL documentation.

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Australian Bushfire Maps

Many parts of Australia, in particular in New South Wales, are experiencing record levels of bushfires. One fire on its own in Coffs Harbour, NSW has a perimeter of 1000 kilometres. With no rainfall forecast and the promise of warm dry conditions for the coming week the extreme threat of fire in the state is expected to continue.

MyFireWatch is an interactive map providing information on the locations of the latest bushfires in Australia. The map uses data from remote sensing satellites and is updated every 2-4 hours, depending on the position of satellites. If you select a fire marker on the map you can read details on the time and date when the fire was last detected and its longitude and latitude.

The NSW Rural Fire Service also provides an interactive map of fires in New South Wales. The NSW Rural Fire Service map shows the locations of fires and the latest known fire extents. The map uses markers which are colored to show the current alert level for the mapped fire. Red markers show the location of fires with an emergency warning alert level. Major fire updates are also listed under the map.

The animated GIF at the top of the page uses images from the Himawari-8 satellite. You can explore satellite imagery of Australia yourself on the Himawari-8 Real-time Web viewer. The times on the GIF are I presume shown in my local time. Sydney is 11 hours ahead so these images are from yesterday afternoon in New South Wales.

If you want to create your own animated GIFs from satellite imagery then another good source of imagery is the RAMMB/CIRA Slider website. This tool allows you to create animated GIFs from satellite imagery from GOES-16 and Himawari-8. The slider uses the latest available imagery from both satellites to allow you to create small animated movies of the Earth.

Mapping the Global Land Grab

Large-scale land acquisitions (LSLAs) can have a devastating impact on local communities. Across the world, particularly in the developing world, land which is used by smallholders and local communities is being bought up by large corporations for agricultural production, for the extraction of natural resources or for industrial development. These controversial land transfer deals often take place behind closed doors and with very little transparency.

The Land Matrix Initiative was established in 2009 in order to gather data on LSLAs and to help promote transparency and accountability in how LSLAs are carried out across the world. The Land Matrix website provides open access to this data, providing information on attempts to acquire land in low- and middle-income countries around the globe.

The Land Matrix interactive map plots the locations of LSLAs in countries across the world. The markers on this map are colored by default to show the implementation status of all the deals represented. You can also select to display the intention of the land deals represented by the markers (agricultural, mining, industrial etc). The Land Matrix data can also be explored using a searchable database and in an interactive graph.

If you are interested in the issue of land ownership then you might also be interested in Who Owns America and Who Owns England.

Monday, November 11, 2019

L.A.'s Wealth Mountains

The Topography of Wealth in L.A. - Visualizing Income Inequality as Terrain is an impressive story map which explores the city's vast income disparities using elevation as a metaphor for wealth. As you scroll through the story the map highlights areas of the city where there is a huge disparity between the median incomes of people living in adjacent neighborhoods.

On the Topography of Wealth map areas of Los Angeles are shown at different heights depending on the area's median annual household income. Neighborhoods with a high median annual household income are shown as tall towers while neighborhoods with a low median income are shown as smaller towers.

The map provides a striking visualization of the distribution of household incomes in the city. Many places in the city have neighborhoods with extremely high median incomes right next door to neighborhoods with very low median incomes.

The map was made with QGIS, Blender, GSAP and D3.js.

Spanish Election Maps

El Diario has mapped out the results of yesterday's Spanish election. Today's election was the second this year and the fourth in as many years. The Spanish Socialist Workers’ party (PSOE) won the most seats in Sunday's election. However their 120 seats was three fewer than they won in April and so the party still has no majority. The extreme far-right Vox party jumped into third place while the centre-right Citizens party saw a collapse in their vote.

El Diario's interactive map of yesterday's results shows the winning candidate in each seat. You can also switch the map so that it visualizes the second most popular party in each seat or the third most popular party in each seat. The map also includes a view which allows you to see only those seats which have changed hands since April's election and which parties won those changing seats.

El Diario has also created an arrow swing map which visualizes how votes have swung in each electoral seat since April's election. On this map blue and red arrows are used to show the size of the swing to the left or right since April (note for U.S. readers in most of the world red is used for left wing parties and blue for right wing parties).

The arrow swing vote shows that although PSOE won the most votes nationwide there was a rightward swing in huge areas of Spain. Only really the provinces of Cantabria, Teruel, Madrid and Balears saw significant numbers of seats with a leftward swing in yesterday's election. This was nowhere near enough to win the PSOE a working majority.

Because PSOE failed to win a majority I would't bet against Spain having at least one other election next year (to make it five elections in five years). However turnout in this election was significantly down on the April election. The turnout in April was 75.5% and yesterday the turnout was 69.9%. This suggest that Spanish voters may be beginning to experience election fatigue.

Sunday, November 10, 2019

New York in Black & White

Challenge number 10 in the #30DayMapChallenge is to create a black and white map. My attempt to meet this challenge is New York in 3D, an interactive map with 3D extruded buildings.

I created the 3D extruded building map style using Mapbox Studio. If you want to know how to do this the Add 3D buildings to a Mapbox Studio style tutorial is a great step-by-step guide to extruding buildings (or any other layer which includes polygons). Once I had created the style in Mapbox Studio I then simply added it to Mapbox's Fly to a location example map. This map adds a button to the map which when pressed rotates and pans the map to a different location. This provides the user with a very short aerial tour of Manhattan.

My map isn't very impressive. However, if you are a fan of monochrome maps, I recommend you check out the winners of the 2019 Monochrome Mapping Competition. The results of this competition have lots of beautiful black & white maps (and other types of monochrome map).

Saturday, November 09, 2019

The Australian Bushfires From Space

Earlier today I linked to a satellite video map showing the ever changing appearance of the Yellow River Delta. That map uses satellite imagery from NASA with Mapbox GL's video overlay functionality.

If you want to create your own timelapse videos from satellite imagery then NASA is obviously a great source for your imagery. Another good source is the RAMMB/CIRA Slider website. This tool allows you to create animated GIF's from satellite imagery from GOES-16 and Himawari-8. The slider uses the latest available imagery from both satellites to allow you to create small animated movies of the Earth.

GOES-16 is in geostationary orbit over the Earth’s Western Hemisphere. It therefore provides great satellite imagery of the Americas. Himawari-8 is in geostationary orbit at 140.7 degrees East. It provides near real-time imagery of Australia, Japan and eastern China.

Currently a record number of bushfires are burning in the state of New South Wales in Australia. Smoke from these fires can clearly been seen in imagery captured by the Himawari-8 satellite. My Australian Bushfires map uses a video loop of Himawari-8 satellite imagery captured yesterday afternoon overlaid on the eastern coast of Australia.

China's Yellow River Delta

My Yellow River Delta map shows the ever changing appearance of the mouth of the Huang He (Yellow River) in China. Millions of tons of sediment enters the river every year. Much of this sediment is carried as far as the river's mouth where it continually rebuilds the delta.

On the Yellow River Delta map a video overlay loops through a series of satellite images. These natural-color images, from NASA's Landsat satellites, show the delta at five-year intervals from 1989 to 2009. To create my map I turned the images into an mp4 video. I then simply added my video URL into Mapox GL's example Add a Video demo.

Friday, November 08, 2019

The Australian Music Map

The Australian Broadcasting Channels' The Australian Music Map, is an interactive map which allows you to explore and listen to classical music written by Australian composers. The map includes music by composers who are strongly linked to a particluar location and music which has been composed especially for a specific Australian place.

If you select a marker on the Australian Music Map you can listen to the featured track directly from the map. An information window will also open featuring information on the selected composer, the classical music track and its connection with the mapped location.

The connection between sound and place in Australia is nothing new. In fact it dates back as far as the earliest arrival of homo sapiens. Long before maps and compasses were invented the indigenous people of Australia used songlines to navigate the country and find their way around.

Songlines, or dreaming tracks, are the creation myths of Indigenous Australians. They are the paths that the creator-beings took across the world while naming and creating the features of the land. These songlines crisscross Australia and, if you know the songline, you can follow the routes that the creator-beings took across the country.

By singing the songlines indigenous people can navigate vast distances, often travelling through the deserts of Australia's interior. You can learn more about songlines from different parts of Australia with this story map from ABC. Singing the Country into Life explores the songlines of a number of indigenous groups across the whole country.

The ABC storymap helps explain the importance of songlines to aboriginal culture. They tell not only how the land was created but also provide a guide as to how you can navigate that land. Since the destruction of much of the original indigenous way of life they now also provide a valuable connection to threatened indigenous languages and culture.

Central Park in Green

Day 8 of the #30DayMapChallenge is colored a rather fetching shade of green. For my green map I decided to take a little inspiration from abstract art.

My Kandinsky Park map is a homage to the Russian painter Wassily Wassilyevich Kandinsky. On this map different OSM id numbers have been given a different shade of green and all polygons have been rotated slightly. If you squint your eyes a little the resulting map can at time slightly resemble the artwork of Kandinsky.

There is absolutely no point to this map. The level of abstraction in the geographical data makes it a little hard to use as a map. I do like to think however that my map conforms, at least in part, to Al Capp's definition of abstract art as being "a product of the untalented sold by the unprincipled to the utterly bewildered".


Thursday, November 07, 2019

Mapping Journalist Deaths

In just the last 12 years over 1000 journalists have been killed around the world. KeepTruthAlive is an interactive map which has been created by UNESCO to show where journalists have been killed around the world. The map was created for the UNESCO campaign #KeepTruthAlive.

The interactive map uses data from UNESCO and only shows journalists who have been killed from June 1993 until July 2019. The locations on the map do not show an exact address and are mapped at the city level. 9 out of every 10 of the murders shown on the map remain unresolved and the killers have not been brought to justice.

The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) maintains a database of attacks of journalists and the press around the globe. 76 journalists across the world were killed in 2018. The CPJ database includes journalists who were murdered in the last 12 months and also journalists who were killed in action (from crossfire or combat on assignment).

Afghanistan, Mexico and Syria, respectively, were the three countries where the most journalists were killed in 2018. The CPJ's 2018 Map of Journalism Deaths includes four motive confirmed murders of journalists in the United States in the last year. All four of these deaths were from the attack on the Capital Gazette. On June 28th Jarrod Ramos shot and killed five employees of the Gazette in Annapolis, Maryland. Four of the victims were journalists working for the newspaper, the other victim was a sales assistant.

The CPJ map includes a number of filters which allow you to explore the database of journalist deaths by location and type of death. The map also includes a date filter which allows you to directly compare the year's map of journalist deaths with maps for previous years (going back to 1992).

Red Towns & Cities of the World

Day 7 of the #30DayMapChallenge brings us to the color red. In honor of the occasion here is an interactive map of all the red towns and cities around of world.

My map isn't very interesting at all. However it is a neat example of the power of importing and styling your own data in Mapbox Studio. The ability to add and style your own place labels in Mapbox Studio has been used particularly effectively this year in The Pudding's A People Map of the USA.

To get the data for my map I ran a search in Overpass Turbo for towns and cities including the letters 'red' (I also searched for 'rouge' and 'rot'). I then downloaded the results as a GeoJSON file. I uploaded this GeoJSON data to Mapbox Studio to create a data tileset. I then added this tileset to a new Mapbox map style. In my Mapbox style I turned off all the other place-name labels and styled my new tileset so that my new place-name labels are all colored red.

Earlier this year I used the same Mapbox Studio functionality to create the Map of English Literature, an interactive map which shows the birthplaces of some of English Literature's greatest writers. On this map authors, poets and dramatists have been mapped to their place of birth (although there are a few exceptions where writers have been mapped to locations which they are more commonly associated with).