Thursday, March 31, 2022

The 2022 Submarine Cable Map

Every year the telecommunications company Telegeography releases a new map to visualize the updated global network of undersea telecommunication cables which carry all our data around the world.The 2022 Submarine Cable Map has now been published.

Subsea cables carry telecommunication signals under the oceans, communicating information between different countries and regions of the world. In the 19th Century the first submarine cables were laid to carry telegraphy traffic. In the 21st Century submarine cables carry digital data. This includes all our telephone and Internet data.

The new submarine cable map from Telegeography shows 486 cables and 1,306 landing stations. Like last year's Submarine Cable Map this year's edition features lots of textual information, featuring both cable trivia and answers to FAQ's about cable suppliers and content providers. What is new for the 2022 Submarine Cable Map is that this year Telegeography has used a storymap format to help explain all this textual information in more detail. 

As you scroll through this year's version of the Submarine Cable Map the map pans and zooms to each of the smaller inset maps. These inset maps provide a more detailed view of regional submarine cable hubs around the world. As you scroll the page the map sidebar updates to provide more information about each of these regional hubs, providing details about the submarine cable companies with infrastructure in each hub. This storymap format also provides information on some of the new submarine cable builds which have taken place in each continent over the last year. 

Each year's edition of the Telegeography Submarine Cable Map has a different design. You can explore Telegeography's Submarine Cable Maps for previous years just by changing the year in the map's URL. For example, one of my favorite Telegeography maps can be found at This 2015 map was inspired by medieval and renaissance cartography and features a vintage map style containing sea monsters, cartouches and border illustrations.

Despite using a storymap format to provide a guided tour of the the world's submarine cable network Telegeography's map is essentially just a still image map. If you want a fully interactive map experience then you could try the Submarine Cable Globe. This WebGL powered 3D globe allows you to explore the world's submarine cable network as a true interactive map. 

The Submarine Cable Globe does not provide as much information about the global submarine cable network as you will find on Telegeography's map. However if you hover over a colored cable on the Submarine Cable Globe you can discover the telecom provider of each selected cable.

Wednesday, March 30, 2022

The Fantastical Streetnames of Gothenburg

After World War II the UK government decided to develop a number of new towns in order to help relocate people away from the country's most congested cities. I spent most of my childhood growing up in Crawley, one of these new towns which was built in southern England.

When the town planners of Crawley mapped out their future town they decided to create clusters of streets with thematically named roads. For example in Tilgate (the neighborhood where I lived) there was a small cluster of streets where the roads were all named after painters (Constable Rd, Hogarth Rd, Gainsborough Rd, Whistler Close). There was also a cluster of roads all named for explorers (Drake Rd, Shackleton Rd, Cook Rd). In one area of Tilgate all the roads were given the names of 18th & 19th Century writers (Dickens Rd, Boswell Rd, Johnson Walk). In another area the roads were all named for English cathedral cities (Canterbury Rd, Oxford Rd, Winchester Rd). 

Each neighborhood of Crawley has distinct areas where the streets all have thematically linked roads. One, probably unintended, consequence of this is that you can use these themes when giving directions. So, for example, estate agents will often refer to houses as being in the 'Poets Area' or in the 'Painters Area'. 

Of course many other towns and cities around the world have areas with thematically similar street names. For example the Swedish city of Gothenburg has clusters of streets named after musical instruments, dances, herbs & spices, and even astronomical entities (Planet St, Big Dipper St, North Star St). 

You can explore Gothenburg's street name clusters in more detail on a new interactive map.Silvia Hüttner's Lightyears, Mustard and Diamonds: The Fantastical Streetnames of Gothenburg is a lovely story map which takes you on a guided tour of the thematically named streets of Sweden's second largest city. This tour starts in the area around the city's biggest hospital, where appropriately the streets are named after famous doctors (Doktor Allard Gata, Doktor Salens Gata). Further south in the city is an area where the streets all have a radio theme (Shortwave St, Longwave St, Transistor St). Immediately next to the 'Radio Area is the 'Musical Instrument Area' where (you guessed it) all the streets are named after musical instruments (Piano St, Mandolin St). 

If Silvia's map has inspired you to create a similar map exploring thematically clustered streets in your town or city then you can explore the code for her map on GitHub.

Tuesday, March 29, 2022

A River Trickles Through It

Nearly half of all river miles in the American West no longer exist in their natural state. Instead they have been dammed & diverted, or affected by some other form of human development. You can see for yourself where rivers in the West have been altered from their natural state on the Disappearing Rivers interactive map.

On this interactive map, built by Gage Cartographics, all rivers in the American West are colored to show the degree by which they have been altered by humans. If you click on an individual river on the map you can view the percentage degree by which the river has been altered (in that segment of the river and over its whole length). The menu in the top right corner of the map allows you to also view the degree by which all flood plains have been affected by human development across the American West. 

The Disappearing Rivers map also includes a guided tour of the Colorado River, exploring in more detail how human development has altered this mighty river. More than half (54%) of the Colorado River has been dammed, diverted or otherwise altered from its natural state. The guided tour highlights how human developments (such as urbanization and agriculture) have impacted on the Colorado River. The tour also explores where conservation efforts have been made to help restore the natural health of the Colorado. 

A number of other amazing interactive maps can help you explore American rivers even more closely. For example River Runner is a fascinating map tool which uses U.S. watershed data to calculate the route that a drop of rain would take from any location in the United States to the ocean. The map uses information about America's river watersheds to create an animated map which visualizes the journey downstream from any location in the contiguous United States.

Click anywhere on River Runner's map of the United States and you can discover the path that a drop of water would take from that location to the distant ocean (although sometimes the final destination may be the Great Lakes or another large inland water feature). A small inset map will reveal the path that leads downstream from your selected location to the sea. The main larger map actually animates the route of this journey on top of America's 3D terrain. 

If you are interested in America's watersheds then you might also enjoy the USGS's Streamer map. The Streamer map allows you to trace rivers or streams upstream to their source or downstream to their final destinations in the USA. This interactive map can create very dramatic visualizations of river watersheds, particularly when you trace a river upstream to show all of its tributaries.

FernLeaf Interactive has also created an interactive map which allows you to view over 100,000 watershed regions. The Watersheds Map shows the topological relationships between the USGS level 12 hydrologic units for the entire United States.

This map allows you to visualize watershed regions throughout the USA. As you mouse-over the map it automatically updates to show upstream areas in red and downstream areas in blue. You can click on the map at anytime to freeze the map view (click on the map again to unfreeze & re-enable the dynamic loading of the watershed data).

Monday, March 28, 2022

This is NOT a Map

Argleton Harbour

This is Argleton Harbour, situated on the north-east coast of England.It is now a sleepy seaside town, relying on tourism and a small fishing industry to survive. It was once a busy port town, shipping coal to northern Europe, and unloading cargo (mainly from the Baltic countries). Like many northern towns Argleton Harbour hasn't yet recovered from the closure of England's coal mines.

Apart from the fall-out from the collapse of British industry Argleton Harbour has another problem. It does not exist. The satellite image above isn't a photo of a real location. It was in fact generated by artificial intelligence. This City Does Not Exist is a fun website which purports to show fake satellite images, generated by artificial intelligence. Just hit refresh on your browser and This City Does Not Exist will create another unique satellite image of a location that does not exist in the real world. 

This City Does Not Exist links to a slideshow which suggests that the fake satellite images are created by a generative artificial intelligence model trained on satellite images from WorldView-2 and Sentinel 2. 

While This City Does Not Exist is fun to play with artificial intelligence powered satellite imagery can actually be very useful. In Use AI To Convert Ancient Maps Into Satellite-Like Images Michelle Hampson explores how machine learning algorithms can be trained to transform vintage maps of locations into 'fake' satellite images of the same locations.This could be used to show how land-use has changed over time, for example to visualize the urbanization of a location over a period of time. 

Of course like any tool artificial intelligence models for creating deep-fake maps can be used for both good & evil. It doesn't take a great leap of imagination to believe that a rogue state might use fake satellite imagery to support military action. For example by creating fake satellite imagery to claim the presence of a chemical weapons factory in a country that they wish to invade. 

Kim Eckart discusses the potential problems of deepfake satellite imagery in more detail in A growing problem of ‘deepfake geography’: How AI falsifies satellite images. In this article for the University of Washington Kim cites a new study published by the university which shows how deepfake satellite images can be created and discusses how we might develop tools for detecting fake satellite photos.

If you want to learn more about how artificial intelligence or a generative adversarial network (GAN) can be used to create fictional maps then you might like Topi Tjukanov's article Mapdreamer — AI cartography. Topi trained a GAN on 10,000 vintage maps. His article does a great job at explaining how a GAN works and how he built a GAN to create AI generated maps. It also contains lots of wonderful examples of the maps created by his AI GAN cartographer.

Saturday, March 26, 2022

The World's Most Polluted Cities

According to the IQAir World Air Quality Report not one country in the whole world managed to meet the World Health Organization’s (WHO) PM2.5 annual air quality guidelines in 2021. In 2021 the five most polluted countries were: Bangladesh, Chad Pakistan, Tajikistan and India.

IQAir's annual air quality report is based on an analysis of air pollution data collected from air monitoring stations in 6,475 cities around the globe.6,253 cities (out of the total 6,475 cities covered in the report) failed to meet WHO's PM2.5 guideline. 93 of those cities actually had PM2.5 concentrations exceeding 10 times the WHO guideline.

You can explore for yourself the annual PM2.5 concentration in all the cities covered in the report on IQAir's Interactive Map of 2021 PM2.5 Concentrations by City. On this mapped visualization air monitoring stations around the world are colored to show their annual concentration of fine particulate matter (PM2.5). The cities colored blue on the map are those that managed to meet the WHO guidelines. The cities colored dark purple exceeded the guidelines by at least 10 times. If you click on a marker on the map you can view that city's actual PM2.5 measurement for 2021 and (where available) also view its annual measurements for 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2020.

In 2021 Los Angeles was the most air polluted city in the United States (although the city did actually manage to decrease its PM2.5 pollution by 6 percent compared to 2020). The report covers 2,408 cities in the United States. Generally air quality worsened in American cities during 2021. On average American cities saw an increase of 0.7 µg/m3 in PM2.5 concentrations compared to 2021.

If you want to know the air quality in your city today then you can refer to IQAir's real-time Live Air Quality Map. This map visualizes the latest air quality measurements from thousands of air monitoring stations located around the world. The map also includes an air quality layer which predicts the current air quality based on the latest measurements and wind forecasts.

Friday, March 25, 2022

Florida's Black Snow

Sugar cane burning is so dangerous that it is banned in India. The practice is also being phased out in Brazil and Thailand.Sugar cane burning will soon only be permitted in one of the top four sugar-producing countries - the United States.

When sugar cane farmers burn their fields the cane emits huge clouds of black smoke. This smoke contains fine particulate matter, or PM2.5, which is incredibly dangerous to the health of anyone who is unfortunate enough to live downwind from a cane field.

Half of America's sugar is produced in the Glades region in Florida. The Glades is also home to 31,000 people. People who in winter and spring of every year are regularly forced to breathe in the smoke from burning sugar cane.Propublica and the Palm Beach Post have analyzed cane burn permits in the Glades and smoke plume data to map out where black smoke was a problem on each day between December 2020 and April 2021. 

You can view the results of this analysis in Black Snow: The Smoke Comes Every Year. Propublica's article on Florida's sugar cane smoke problem includes an interactive map which models the smoke extent from sugar cane burning for each day of winter & spring 2021.This map also shows the locations of Florida's cane fields and the locations of the areas main towns. The map shows how air pollution from sugar cane burning is a major problem for the residents of Pahokee, Belle Glade and South Bay. Towns where about a third of the people live in poverty. According to Propublica the "smoke rarely reaches wealthier, whiter cities like West Palm Beach".

Thursday, March 24, 2022

The Last Frost of Winter

NOAA has released an interactive map which uses historical temperature data to map the Average Date of Last Spring Freeze Across the United States.Using the map you can view the last day on average when there is a chance for freezing temperatures at thousands of locations across the whole country.

NOAA's last spring freeze map uses temperature data from 1991-2020 captured from weather stations across the United States. The colored dots on the map indicate the average date on which the chance of freezing temperatures drops below 50 percent at each location. If you click on a dot on the map you can view the actual date of the average last frost for the selected weather station. Shades of purple are used for locations where the last frost normally occurs before the first day of spring (in mid-March). Weather stations colored with a shade of green indicate locations where the last frost usually comes after the first day of spring. 

You can discover when your coldest day of the year is likely to occur (on average) on NOAA's interactive map Coldest Day of the Year on Average. On this map weather stations across the United States are colored to show when on average in the year they have experienced their coldest day. These dates are calculated using data from the National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI). The specific data used is the average low temperature for every day from 1991-2020. You can also click on individual weather stations on the map to view the exact date for the coldest day of the year on average at that location.

Just from looking at the screenshot of the map above you can see that the coldest day of the year normally occurs later in the season in the East than it does in the West of the country. This is partly due to when cold air from snow-covered areas of Canada is blown down into the East. In the Western half of the United States the coldest day usually occurs in December. In the Eastern half of the country the coldest day usually arrives in January or February.

If you want to know when the first snow of the year is most likely to fall then you can refer to NOAA's handy interactive First Snow Map. This map provides a nationwide guide as to when you can expect to get the first snow of the winter. The map shows the date at your location when the chance of snow is at least 50%, based on historical weather records (1981-2010).

Your latitude and altitude play the biggest role in determining when you are most likely to experience snow. On average the more northerly you are and the higher your altitude then the earlier you are likely to see snow.

If all this talk of snow and low temperatures leaves you feeling cold then you might want to look forward to when you can expect your hottest day of the year. NOAA's Warmest Day of the Year map shows the warmest day of the year on average across the United States based on temperature data from 1991-2020. In most of the country the hottest day normally occurs between mid-July and mid-August.

Wednesday, March 23, 2022

Historic England from the Air

A new interactive map from Historic England allows you to search and explore historical aerial imagery of England captured over the last 100 years. The Aerial Photograph Explorer map includes over 400,000 digitized photos from Historic England's aerial photo collections. 

The Aerial Photograph Explorer is a great way to explore how your town has changed over the last one hundred years. For example in my area of East London the pre & post World War II imagery reveals how my neighborhood changed from pre-war terraced housing and light industry to post-war tower blocks.and housing estates (mainly due to the heavy damage caused by German bombing).

You can use the map's search box to find a location or manually navigate to a location by panning and zooming on the map. The locations of aerial imagery available at a location are shown on the map using different colored markers (the different colors and shapes of markers appear to indicate when and who the images were captured by). To view an image you just need to click on its marker. 

The Historic England aerial imagery archive actually contains over 6 million aerial photographs of England. Over the coming years Historic England plans to add more of these photos to the map, as they are digitized and geo-referenced.

Tuesday, March 22, 2022

Mapping Russia's Attacks on Civilians

The NGO Human Rights Watch has investigated Russia's attacks on Ukraine’s second largest city, Kharkiv, between February 28 and March 5. The results of this investigation have led Human Rights Watch to conclude that Russia has attacked civilian buildings, "including apartment blocks, schools, places of worship, and shops, impeding access to food and medicines. They also damaged infrastructure in the city causing civilians to lose vital services such as electricity, heat, and water".

Under the rule of law armies must take "all feasible precautions" to avoid attacks on civilians and civilian targets. The law prohibits attacks aimed at civilians or civilian targets, the use of indiscriminate attacks and attacks that have disproportionate effects on civilians. In Ukraine: Deadly Attacks Kill, Injure Civilians, Destroy Homes Human Rights Watch presents evidence that Russia's attacks on Kharkiv have used indiscriminate cluster munitions to intentionally target civilian areas. 

The Human Rights Watch report into the attacks on Kharkiv includes an interactive map which plots detailed findings of Russia's illegal bombing campaign in the city. In gathering this evidence Human Rights Watch interviewed eye witnesses, including residents, medical workers, and municipal workers. The organization also analyzed and verified 29 videos and photographs of the attacks to corroborate witness testimony and to identify locations bombed and the damage caused. 

You can explore the evidence on the map by clicking on the numbered map markers or you can simply scroll through the map sidebar. This evidence includes photographs and videos of bombed civilian buildings. 

You can explore evidence of Russia's war crimes elsewhere in Ukraine on Bellingcat's Civilian Harm in Ukraine, an interactive map which locates and records evidence of Russia's attacks on civilians during its invasion of Ukraine. The Ukrainian Civilian Objects Attacks and Casualties Interactive Map is another attempt to track and map Russian attacks on civilian targets in Ukraine.The map consists predominantly of geo-tagged photographs of civilian buildings which have been damaged by Russian bombs. The map also includes a running total of the number of civilians who have been killed and injured by the Russian army in Ukraine.

Monday, March 21, 2022

The National Cycling Barometer

Last year the French Federation of Bicycle Users (FUB) surveyed a quarter of a million bike riders about the cycling climate in their town or city. In FUB's Cycling Cities Barometer cyclists were asked to rate their municipality based on five different categories:

• general feeling
• safety
• comfort
• efforts of the municipality
• parking and bicycle services

Based on the answers given to the cycling survey an overall 'cycling climate' score has been given to each town and city in France (as long as the town received a minimum of 50 responses in the survey). 

You can explore the results of the Cycling Cities Barometer survey on FUB's Survey Results interactive map. On this interactive map you can view the overall cycling climate rating given to each French town. On the map individual towns and cities are colored to show their overall rating (with green being good and red being bad). If you click on an individual city on the map you can view the ratings given to the municipality in each of the different five categories.

If you zoom in on a town or city on the map or open the FUB Priority map you can then view the local locations in the area which were identified by the survey respondents as needing improvements. This map uses red colored dots to show locations identified by cyclists as needing improvement. Locations shown with green dots are those which were identified by cyclists as having seen improvement in the last two years. The blue dots indicate locations where respondents said there was a need for parking for bikes.

Via: weeklyOSM

Saturday, March 19, 2022

Russia's Failed Invasion of Ukraine


Russia believed that it could just march into Ukraine with very little resistance. However what was meant to be a quick war has quickly turned into a slow attritional battle for territory. The poor planning, logistics and tactics of the Russian army has met with fierce resistance from the Ukrainian people and Russia's invasion has clearly not gone to Moscow's plan.

The Financial Times has released a new story map which attempts to explain how Russia's attempts at regime change has faltered on Ukrainian ground. In How Russia’s mistakes and Ukrainian resistance altered Putin’s war the FT uses an interactive map to show how Russia's war in Ukraine has not gone to plan and has forced the Russian army to change its plans.

The Russian invasion has floundered because of brave Ukrainian resistance and the shortcomings of the Russian army. As you scroll through the FT's story map it explains how Russia is now relying more and more on the terrorist activities its army developed in Chechnya & Syria, relying more and more on the indiscriminate bombing of heavily populated civilian areas. 

What was meant to be a quick regime change has turned into a direct attack on the Ukrainian people. The FT map shows how in the early stages of the invasion Russia believed it could quickly take control of major Ukrainian towns and cities. However the invasion army units quickly outran their supply lines and forward units quickly ran out of fuel and ammunition. Russia's failure to secure supply lines to support its invading forward units prove that it expected to meet with very little resistance and hadn't planned for a war that world last more than a few days.

Conversely the Ukrainian resistance has been effective in disrupting the Russian advance. Using light infantry units the Ukrainian army has been able to pick off Russian units which have been cut-off from their supply lines. The Ukrainian army has been helped by an international supply of weapons which are particularly useful against isolated advancing units, such as NLAW and Javelin anti-tank missiles. Ukraine has also been able to slow the Russian advance by destroying key bridges and dams.

The failure of a quick Russian invasion of Ukraine is leading Russia to switch to the terrorist activities developed in Chechnya and Syria. They are now indiscriminately bombing civilian targets and trying to batter and starve cities into surrender. Unfortunately, because Russian is led by a megalomaniacal psychopath many people believe Russia's tactics in Ukraine may soon get a lot uglier.

Story Maps are an excellent way to not only visualize geographical data but to pick out the stories and patterns in your mapped data. The Financial Times Ukraine map uses Mapbox's Scrollytelling Template. The features of the Mapbox Scxrollytelling library can also be explored on this Mapbox demo map. The demo map not only introduces the Scrollytelling Template it shows you what you can do with the Mapbox story map library.

Friday, March 18, 2022

Mapping Russia's Civilian Attacks

Last week Russia attacked a maternity hospital in the Ukrainian port city of Mariupol. At least four civilians were killed and sixteen others were injured. The Russian army's terrorist tactics of attacking civilians and civilian targets are well established. For years the Russian army has been been targeting civilian infrastructure and civilians in Syria, in attempts to subjugate the people and destroy morale.Russia is now using the same indiscriminate cluster bombing of civilian targets in Ukraine.

Bellingcat's Civilian Harm in Ukraine interactive map locates and records evidence of Russia's attacks on civilians in Ukraine. This includes attacks on civilian areas and infrastructure leading to damage or destruction, and attacks resulting in civilian injuries and visible civilian deaths. Bellingcat began collecting evidence for the map on February 24, 2022.

The Civilian Harm in Ukraine map includes a timeline which allows you to explore the recorded incident both by location and by date.If you select an incident on the map evidence of the attack is shown in the map side panel. 

In order to make this map Bellingcat has assembled a Global Authentication Project team, consisting of a number of open source researchers. This team examines open source evidence of potential civilian harm in Ukraine in order to clarify where and when the incidents took place. Only incidents which have been captured on camera or posted to social media are added to the map. It is likely that there are many other incidents of Russian attacks on civilians and civilian buildings which have not been identified by the Global Authentication Project team. 

The Ukrainian Civilian Objects Attacks and Casualties Interactive Map is another attempt to track and map Russian attacks on civilian targets in Ukraine.The map consists predominantly of geo-tagged photographs of civilian buildings which have been damaged by Russian bombs. The map also includes a running total of the number of civilians who have been killed and injured by Russia's illegal war against Ukraine.

The map includes a timeline which means that you can browse the civilian casualties of Russian bombs by both date and location. If you click on a date or on a map marker then photographs of the damage caused by Russian bombs will be shown in the map sidebar. If you click on one of these photographs a slideshow will open so you can browse all the submitted photos from that location.

The map doesn't have an 'about' page but it does link to the Ukrainian government website. The map however doesn't appear to have a Ukrainian government URL so it is more likely to have been created by developers in support of the Ukrainian people (if you know more about the map's origins please let me know in the comments below).

Thursday, March 17, 2022

How Old is Democracy?

The animated map above shows the number of years each country in the world has been democratic at twenty year intervals from 1872-2021. Our World in Data's How Old are Democracies Around the World? interactive map shows that even in countries where people enjoy the right to vote the age of their democracy is still relatively young. 

As Our World in Data succinctly notes 

"This means that for most people, life under authoritarianism is either their current experience, or they remember a time when it was".

According to the classification of democracy used by Our World in Data only around half of the countries in the world are currently under democratic control. Only eight countries (Canada, Finland, Iceland, Ireland, New Zealand, Sweden, the United Kingdom, and the United States) have been electoral democracies for a century or more. 

Of course the definition of democracy is open to debate. In 200 Years Ago Everyone Lacked Democratic Rights Our World in Data classifies every country in the world into one of four categories; Closed Autocracy, Electoral Autocracy, Electoral Democracy and Liberal Democracy. This is based on the Regimes of the World (RoW) classification system developed by political scientists Anna Lührmann, Marcus Tannenberg, and Staffan Lindberg. 

An interactive map in this Our World in Data article shows which one of these four categories every country in the world fell into for every year since 1789. 

An accompanying graph shows the number of people living in democracies during this same period.This graph show that throughout the 20th Century the number of people living in electoral and liberal democracies steadily grew larger and larger, until over half of the world's population were living in a democracy at the beginning of the 21st Century. Unfortunately in 2019 India became an electoral autocracy (according to the Our World in Data classifications) which resulted in 1.4 billion people immediately having their democratic rights curtailed.

Wednesday, March 16, 2022

The Russian Roundabout

In response to Russia's invasion of Ukraine many countries around the world (including the EU and the USA) have closed their airspace to Russian aircraft. Russia has responded in turn by introducing tit-for-tat restrictions, closing its airspace to airlines from 36 different countries around the world. 

Enrico Spinielli has published a couple of maps which visualize the disruptions caused to airlines by the introductions of these no-fly zones. How flights between Europe and Eastern Asia got disrupted plots a selection of flight paths from Europe to Japan from before & after the start of the war in Ukraine. On the right-hand map above you can see how flights from Europe to Asia are now having to make big detours in order to avoid flying over Russia, adding 3.5 hours to a flight from London to Tokyo and 1.63 hours to a flight from Frankfurt to Tokyo.The left-hand map shows the flight paths of planes taken by planes flying from Europe to Asia before the start of the war.

Russian planes have also been forced to make changes to their usual flight plans. In Flying to Kaliningrad during the Russian flight ban Spinielli has mapped out the flight paths that Russian planes have been having to make in order to fly to the Russian enclave of Kaliningrad. Since February 27 commercial flights between mainland Russia and Kaliningrad have had to follow the Baltic Sea avoiding Finland, Sweden and the other Baltic states.

In a third installment in his series visualizing the impact of the Ukrainian invasion on commercial airlines Spinielli has also mapped out evidence of GPS jamming around Kaliningrad.

Tuesday, March 15, 2022

Mapping the Russian Advance

One thing that has surprised most people about Russia's illegal attempt to occupy Ukraine is how ill equipped the Russian army has been. A combination of poor logistics, poor planning, poor equipment and poor morale all appear to have helped hinder the Russian advance. At the same time the incredible bravery and resistance of the Ukrainian people has proved an amazing counterpoint to the shame and disgrace of Putin and the Russian government.

The French newspaper Le Parisien has created an animated map which provides a great illustration of how Russia's attack on Ukraine hasn't gone to plan.The War in Ukraine: The Daily Map Which Shows the Situation Town by Town includes an interactive map which shows which towns in Ukraine have been under Russian or Ukrainian control for every day of the war.

The animated map (shown above) clearly shows how badly the war has gone for Russia, so far. Over the last week you can see that Russia has started to consolidate its control in the South East of Ukraine, connecting the Donbas region to Crimea.However even here the Russians have met with incredible resistance. For example, the heroic citizens of Mariupol have held out for over a week without food supplies, water, power or heat; while the Russian army illegally bombs civilian targets, such as the city's hospital.

Le Parisien's daily updated map uses data from Wikipedia's Russo-Ukrainian War Detailed Map. This is a crowd-sourced map which shows the current status of towns and cities in Ukraine in terms of whether they are under Ukrainian or Russian control. Cities marked blue on the Wikipedia & Le Parisien maps are currently under Ukrainian control and cities shown with a red circle are under Russian control. 

The map data is taken from the Wikipedia article Cities and Towns during the Russo-Ukrainian War. According to Wikipedia the status of each town is determined by a creditable source.

Monday, March 14, 2022

How Big is Ukraine?

One of the recurring themes in the news coverage of Russia's invasion of Ukraine has been the large size of Ukraine. According to Nations Online "Ukraine is "600,000 km²; ... about twice the size of Italy or slightly smaller than the US state of Texas". 

You can compare the size of Ukraine to other locations around the world by using Hans Hack's Reprojector tool.The Reprojector interactive map allows you to compare different areas with each other by moving GeoJSON shapes around. The tool is great for comparing two (or more) different geographic areas with each other. 

The Reprojector tool allows you to upload any GeoJSON polygon onto an interactive map. This GeoJSON can be anything you want, including country or state borders. Once you have uploaded a polygon onto the Reprojector map you can then move the shape around to overlay the polygon on any other location in the world. When you are happy with the location of your polygon you can even download a GeoJSON file with the data to display your polygon in its new position.

If you want to use Reprojector to compare the size of Ukraine with other countries then you just need to cut & paste this Ukraine GeoJSON data from (ukraine.geojson) into the 'Paste' textbox in Reprojector.

If you don't want the hassle of cutting and pasting then you can use The True Size Of ... or My Life Elsewhere instead. These two map comparison sites allow you to automatically select different countries around the world to compare them on an interactive map.

For example, using The True Size Of ... you can enter the name of any country or state into a search box to add its shape to the map. You can then drag the shape around the map to compare its size to any other location in the world.

Saturday, March 12, 2022

Finding Your Goldilocks Zone

The Goldilocks Zone Finder is an interactive map which can help you find the location in the United States which has your perfect year-round temperatures. Just tell the map the hottest and coldest temperatures that you are happy to live with it and it will show you a map displaying the number of days per year which fall within your own personal Goldilocks temperature zone, for all locations across the United States.

The Goldilocks Zone Finder was created by Luke Champine who wanted to find a place to live which fell within his own personal temperature preferences. The map uses data from NOAA's 30 Year Climate Normals, which uses 30 years of weather measurements taken across the United States to calculate daily temperature averages. The NOAA Climate Normals also includes averages for precipitation and other climate variables but these are not included on the Goldilocks Zone Finder.

The Goldilocks Zone Finder currently only works for the United States but if you are interested in building a similar map for another country the code for the project is available on GitHub.

If you want to explore local average temperatures by day of the year in a little more detail then you might also like the County Climate interactive map. This map shows the average maximum temperature in every county for every day of the year. 

If you select a date from the slider at the top of the map you can view the average temperatures on that day across the whole country. If you select a county on the map you can also view a graph showing the average maximum temperature in that county for each month of the year (based on temperature data from 1979-2011). 

The temperature may not be the only data that you want to consider in your attempts to find a location which has your perfect weather. In that case you could use Peter Kerpedjiev's map of annual worldwide weather data. The map uses historical climate data from Wikipedia's city 'weather boxes' to visualize how weather changes during the year around the world.

Using the Sunshine Map it is possible to view the number of hours of sunshine across the globe for every month of the year. The map also allows you to view the changing rates of precipitation, the highest & lowest temperatures, and the amount of snowfall. 

The Sunshine Map uses Jason Davies' D3 voronoi library to divide the world up into regions based on the closest city with Wikipedia climate data. This does mean that where Wikipedia only has a few cities with climate data.the Voronoi areas can be quite large.

Friday, March 11, 2022

The Digital Atlas Ortelius

The Atlas Ortelius was the first 'modern' world atlas. Abraham Ortelius printed his 'Theatrum orbis terrarum' at the end of the sixteenth century in Antwerp. Before the publication of Ortelius' atlas maps were printed and sold separately or composite atlases could be made to order. These composite atlases usually consisted of maps of different sizes and styles. 

Ortelius' 'Theatrum orbis terrarum' was a collection of maps, all of the same size and all with the same look & feel, sold as one book. This book was also not custom made for one client but was published in several copies for sale to many different customers. First published in 1571 the 'Theatrum orbis terrarum' consisted of 53 individual maps. The atlas was an instant success and the first edition quickly sold out. New editions were soon published and German, French, Spanish, English and Italian editions also soon appeared.

You can now explore Ortelius' atlas for yourself on the Royal Library of the Netherland's Digital Masterpiece: Theatrum orbis terrarum. This digitized copy of the Atlas Ortelius allows you to view all pages of the atlas and pan and zoom around each of the atlas' 53 individual maps. The library's digitized version of the atlas also includes a guided tour of the 'Theatrum orbis terrarum'. This guided tour provides information about some of the more interesting maps in the atlas and about the contemporary knowledge & understanding of the world from which the maps were drawn.

The Atlas Ortelius which has been digitized here is the library's own copy. This copy of the atlas includes the 53 maps from the first Dutch edition from 1571. The copy also includes later additions and must have been bound some time after 1584.

Thursday, March 10, 2022


The pace of new Wordle inspired map and geography games shows no signs of abating. Wheredle is my latest favorite riff on the viral word game.

The goal of Wheredle is to identify a new U.S. state every day from a random image taken from Google Maps Street View. Fans of GeoGuessr will be familiar with the basic concept of Wheredle. Using contextual clues, such as street signs, landmarks and the natural terrain, you need to guess in which state the displayed Street View was captured by Google. 

After each incorrect guess an arrow shows you in which direction you need to move on a map to find the correct state. You are allowed only seven attempts to find the correct answer. There is a new Wheredle game every day.

Countyle is another fun wordle inspired geography guessing game. The object in this game is to identify the mystery country in the fewest number of attempts. After each incorrect guess in Countryle you are given a number of clues based on your answer. 

The first clue tells you if your guess is in the correct or incorrect continent. The second clue informs you as to whether the correct country has a larger or smaller population than your guess. An arrow shows in which direction you need to move on a map to reach the correct country. The fourth clue tells you if you are in the correct hemisphere or not. The final clue tells you if the country you guessed is hotter or colder than the correct country.

There is a new country to guess every day.

Globle is another daily geography challenge which requires you to guess a designated country of the world. Each time that you guess a country it is colored in on a globe to show how close you are to today's country. The deeper the shade of red then the hotter (or closer) you are to guessing the correct country.

Every day there is a new mystery country for you to guess. Your aim every day is to guess the mystery country using the fewest number of guesses. 


Worldle is yet another daily geography challenge. This game requires you to name a country from just its map outline. Like the original Wordle game you have six goes in which to find the right answer. And, like Wordle, there is only one game to play every day.

Where Worldle differs a lot from Wordle is in the clues given after each answer. Instead of green and yellow squares Worldle uses arrows and percentages to help you get to the correct answer from your incorrect guesses. After each guess, you are told the distance you were from the correct country, the direction you need to move on a map and the proximity of your guess to the target country. With just these clues it should be possible to work out the correct answer within the permitted six guesses (particularly if like me you cheat and use a world map).

My own (not so good) Worlde game is a clone of Josh Wardle's original Wordle game. My game however requires you to guess the names of countries and major global cities rather than words from the dictionary. 

Wardle is another Wordle inspired game. This one requires you to name the UK local authority area from its map outline. To aid you in your quest after each guess, you are told the distance you need to travel to reach the correct ward, the direction you need to travel and the proximity from your guess to the target area. This game should come with a warning for non-UK players, as you really need a very detailed knowledge of UK geography to win this game,

Tuesday, March 08, 2022

Ukrainian & Russian Casualties

The Ukrainian Civilian Objects Attacks and Casualties Interactive Map is an attempt to track and map Russian attacks on civilian targets in Ukraine.The map consists predominantly of geo-tagged photographs of civilian buildings which have been damaged by Russian bombs. The map also includes a running total of the number of civilians who have been killed and injured by Russia's illegal war against Ukraine.

The map includes a timeline which means that you can browse the civilian casualties of Russian bombs by both date and location. If you click on a date or on a map marker then photographs of the damage caused by Russian bombs will be shown in the map sidebar. If you click on one of these photographs a slideshow will open so you can browse all the submitted photos from that location.

The map doesn't have an 'about' page but it does link to the Ukrainian government website. The map however doesn't appear to have a Ukrainian government URL so it is more likely to have been created by developers in support of the Ukrainian people (if you know more about the map's origins please let me know in the comments below).

Карта Мира is another interactive map which includes no 'about' page.This map claims to provide reliable information about Russian soldiers who have gone missing in the Russian attack on Ukraine. 

The map consists of map markers which purport to show the origins of soldiers captured or who have gone missing in Ukraine.If you click on these markers you can view photographs of the missing soldiers or of their documentation and an indication if they are in captivity or if they have died.

Because neither of these two maps have an 'about' page nor an explanation of their data collection methodologies it is impossible to verify their authenticity. The information on the map of Russian soldiers captured and killed in the Ukraine is particularly hard to verify because it is widely believed that Russia is intentionally under-reporting the number of soldiers killed and captured in the war in Ukraine.

Monday, March 07, 2022

Russian Bombing in 3D

Satellite Images of Ukraine is an interactive map which allows you to explore 3D models of buildings destroyed by Russian bombing in the Ukrainian town of Borodyanka.

Last week Russian bombs destroyed the entire town center of Borodyanka, which is located about 37 miles north of Kyiv. The town had no Ukrainian military presence but Russia decided to decimate the town anyway, resulting in the murder of numerous civilians and the destruction of shops and residential buildings.  

Satellite Images of Ukraine uses data from images captured in the town after it was struck by heavy bombing. 3D photogrammetric models were created of the town's destroyed buildings and vehicles using drone captured imagery and photos taken on the ground. The result is a shocking interactive 3D map which allows you to view the devastating destruction of Borodyanka from a first person perspective. 

The use of interactive 3D models is a growing trend in data journalism. Here are links to some other examples of news organizations using photogrammetry to illustrate and explain major news events:

Saturday, March 05, 2022

The Australian Land Cover Map

The Digital Earth: Australia Land Cover map is a collection of annual land cover maps for Australia. The map allows users to explore Australian land usage for any year between 1988 and 2020, allowing you to see how the environment has changed over time. Using the map you can explore land cover changes resulting from bushfires, the natural fluctuations in vegetation cover over time, and more permanent changes to land cover resulting from urban development. 

The map breaks down Australia's landscape into six basic land cover classes, and more than 80 detailed sub-classes.The six basic land cover classes include natural vegetation, cultivated vegetation and artificial surfaces. Each of these six land cover classes and 80 sub-classes are shown on the map using different colors.

A comparison tool allows you to see how land cover has changed over the years by switching between the land coverage maps of any two years. For example, using the comparison tool, you can see the extent of vegetation loss resulting from the 2019-2020 bushfire season by comparing the land cover maps of 2019 and 2020. You can also use the comparison tool to see how urban development have encroached on natural environments. For example the animated GIF above shows the development of the third runway and adjacent freight terminal at Sydney Airport in Botany Bay by comparing maps from 1988  and 2020. 

Friday, March 04, 2022

The Ukraine Population Density Map

Airwars has released a new interactive map which can help journalists calculate the number of people living in areas of Ukraine being targeted by Russian missiles. The new tool can help researchers and reporters understand the likely human impact of Russian aggression in Ukraine.

The Ukraine: Population Density map uses WorldPop data to show the number of people living in each square kilometer of Ukraine. Now that Russia has started using unguided missile attacks on Ukrainian towns civilian casualties are inevitable. Action on Armed Violence says that when explosive weapons are used in densely populated areas around 90 percent of those killed or injured are likely to be civilians. 

On the Airwars map every point is color coded to show the number of people living at that location. If you click on a location you can view the exact population density per square kilometer. The map includes a search box which allows you to search for a Ukrainian location by name or by latitude & longitude. The population data used by the map dates from before the Russian invasion. Therefore the map doesn't reflect the reduced population density in many urban areas resulting from those who have fled the country or those who have been internally displaced within Ukraine.

Wednesday, March 02, 2022

Mapping & Seizing the Oligarchs' Assets

Roman Abramovich's Jet LX-RAY landing in Istanbul yesterday

In yesterday's State of the Union address President Biden warned Russian oligarchs that "We are joining with our European allies to find and seize your yachts, your luxury apartments, your private jets. We are coming for your ill-begotten gains". 

If the authorities need a little help in tracking down the assets of Russia's super-rich then they could turn to some of the popular real-time aviation & marine tracking maps. If you know a plane's registration number or a luxury yacht's name then you can view a map of its current location on one of these interactive maps:

Tracking Planes:

Tracking Boats:

In order to track a plane or yacht you will need its registration number or name. The Twitter account Russian Oligarch Jets is very useful for discovering the registration numbers of the oligarchs' private planes. This automatic Twitter account regularly posts updates on the locations of jets owned by Russian oligarchs. It also Tweets out handy screenshots of all the registration numbers of the planes that the account is currently tracking. 

The latest location of the yacht Sea Rhapsody owned by Andrey Kostin

Scott Stedman's Twitter account has been doing a similar job tracking the locations of the oligarchs' super yachts. Here is a list of the names of the yachts Scott has been tracking:

Baltic Leader was seized by France (this one is not an oligarch's yacht but a Russian cargo ship)
Amore Vero owned by Igor Sechin and seized by France in La Ciotat
Lady Anastasia owned by Alexander Mijeev (sunk by a Ukrainian sailor in Port Adriano
Lady M owned by Alexei Mordashov seized by Italy in port of Imperia
Lena owned by Gennady Timchenko seized by Italy in port of Sanremo
Sailing Yacht A owned by Andrey Melnichenko was seized in Trieste, Italy

Dilbar owned by Alisher Usmanov (may soon be seized by the German government in Hamburg)
Anna owned by Dmitry Rybolovlev
Eclipse and Solaris owned by Roman Abramovich
Sea Rhapsody owned by Andrey Kostin
Nirvana owned by Vladimir Potanin
Madame Gu owned by Andri Skoch
Le Grand Bleu owned by Eugene Shvidler
Andromeda owned by Yuri Milner
Royal Romance owned by Viktor Medvedchuk (seems to be moored in the Croatian port of Rijeka)
Ocean Victory owned by Viktor Rashnikov
Nord owned by Alexei Mordashov
Luna owned by Farkhad Akhmedov
Quantum Blue owned by Sergey Galitsky
Barbara owned by Vladimir Potantin
Galactica Super Nova owned by Vagit Alekperov
Clio owned by Oleg Deripaska
Tango owned by Viktor Vekselberg
Titan owned by Alexander Abramov
Alfa Nero owned by Andrei Guriev
Pacific owned by Leonid Mikhelson
Areti I owned by Igor Makarov (currently moored in St. Augustine, Florida)
Aurora owned by Andrei Molchanov (currently moored in Barcelona)
Palladium owned by Mikhail Prokhorov (currently moored in Barcelona)
Romea owned by Alexander Nesis
Axioma owned by Dmitry Pumpyansky
Rahil owned by Arkady Rotenberg
Hermitage owned by Anatoly Sedykh (moored in Seychelles)
Cloudbreak owned by Alexander Svetakov (moored in Seychelles)
La Datcha owned by Oleg Tinkov
Sea Us owned by Anatoly Lomakin (moored in Dubai)
Sky owned by Igor Kesaev
Dream owned by Alexander Frolov (appears to now be blocking AIS tracking)

Forbes has also compiled a list and mapped 32 yachts that it says are owned by Russian oligarchs. You can view Forbes' map of oligarch super yachts in its article Biden And Allies Are Coming For Russian Billionaires’ Yachts: Forbes Tracked Down 32. Here’s Where To Find Them. I've also used this Forbes list to update my own list above.

Tuesday, March 01, 2022

The World For Ukraine

Over the weekend hundreds of thousands of people around the world took to the streets in support of the Ukrainian people and to show their anger at the Russian invasion of Ukraine. In Berlin 100,000 gathered to show their solidarity with Ukraine, 70,000 people gathered at a similar demonstration in Prague. Other huge protests were held in London, Madrid, Paris, Amsterdam, Bangkok and many other cities around the world.

The World for Ukraine is an interactive map which visualizes the location of protests against the illegal Russian invasion of Ukraine. The map shows where demonstrations and rallies have taken place in support of Ukraine and have been shared on social media with the hashtag #WorldForUkraine. If you know of a political rally you can help ensure that it appears on the map by writing about it on social media - including a latitude and longitude and the hashtag #WorldForUkraine.

Al Jazeera also has a map and list of cities where anti-war protests have taken place around the world. Mapping anti-war protests shows over 80 demonstrations have taken place in major cities across the globe and at least 50 Russian cities have also witnessed demonstrations against the Russian invasion of Ukraine. The Al Jazeera map is dated the 25th February and (unlike the World for Ukraine map) I suspect it is not being updated as new demonstrations take place.