Saturday, July 30, 2022

How Far Can You Travel in 5 Hours?

How Far Can You Go By Train in 5h? is an interactive map which shows you how far you can travel from any European rail station in less than five hours.

Hover over any location on this map (within the highlighted area in Europe) and you can view an isochrome layer which shows you how far you can travel by train in hourly increments. The nearest train station (from which travel times are calculated) is highlighted on the map in black. 

The travel time data used to power the isochrone layers comes from direkt.bahn.guru. The map assumes that any interchange between two different trains is a blanket 20 minutes and that travel between two interchange stations will be undertaken at a little over walking speed.

You can find more travel time maps listed under the label isochrone.

Friday, July 29, 2022

Who Was Born Near You?

This morning I have been using Topi Tjukanov's new Notable People map to find out which famous people were born in my home town. As a result later today I shall be visiting the homes of Joseph Lister ('the father of modern surgery') and Alfred Hitchcock. Both of whom were born just a short walking distance from my home.

The Notable People map uses Wikidata and Wikipedia listings to show the birthplaces of 'notable' people around the world. On the map placenames have been replaced with the names of famous people who were born at that location. On the map people with a higher 'notability rank' are prioritised over those with lower rankings and those with higher rankings also have larger labels than those with lower rankings. 

The Notable People map was inspired by The Pudding's A People Map of the USA. In 2019 the Pudding created an interactive map which showed the most famous person from each town in America based on the amount of traffic on individual Wikipedia pages. 

The Pudding's map proved so popular that they later released A People Map of the UK. This in turn inspired other map developers to create The World Map of Greeks and the Most Popular Natives of Czech Towns. I even got in on the act myself with my own Map of English Literature (showing the birthplaces of some of English Literature's most famous writers). 

Topi Tjuknov's new Notable People map supercedes these earlier maps through the simple feat of using a database listing the birhplaces of famous people across the whole world.

Thursday, July 28, 2022

GPS Jamming

I've been following John Wiseman's Twitter feed for a while, where he has been posting regular maps showing where pilots have experienced weak GPS signals. John has now released an interactive map, GPS Jam, which provides a daily map of where in the world GPS jamming is currently being experienced by aircraft 

To make his maps John processes every day's data from the ADS-B exchange. He can then accurately map where in the world aircraft have been reporting poor navigation accuracy. All aircraft broadcast ADS-B signals, which are used to calculate the plane's real-time location. These signals are also used to measure GPS accuracy. On ADS-B exchange all aircraft tracking reports include an 'accuracy' section, which provides self-reported data about the accuracy of the GPS signals being sent by the aircraft. 

GPS Jam uses these reports to show all the aircraft reporting poor navigation accuracy. The map is therefore able to identify areas around the world where GPS jamming is currently being used. On the map you might see evidence of GPS jamming around Syria, Cyprus and Israel, these are areas where there has been evidence of GPS jamming for a number of years. According to John Wiseman you might also see evidence of GPS jamming in the U.S., where there is often GPS jamming during military testing, especially in the West and Southwest. You may also see GPS jamming around Moscow, where it is often used by oligarchs to protect their expensive dachas from invasive drones.

John first started mapping GPS jamming before the Russian invasion of Ukraine. He hoped that the maps might provide an early indication of the start of the invasion and where Russia was concentrating its forces. Unfortunately, because airlines now avoid flying over Ukraine when possible, there isn't enough data to determine where the Russian military are using GPS jamming in and around Ukraine.

During the last decade there has been increasing evidence that Russia has been using GPS jamming around the world in order to disrupt its perceived enemies. This has been done with little regard to the dangers that blocking GPS signals poses to civilian aircraft and other vehicles which rely on GPS signals to navigate safely. 

Russia uses electronic warfare weapon systems, such as Borisoglebsk 2, to disrupt communications and GPS systems. GPS systems work by receiving radio signals from four or more satellites. It is relatively easy to block or jam those radio signals. GPS jamming works by sending out radio waves on the same frequencies which the satellites use in order to override or distort the radio signal. GPS spoofing works by sending radio signals which mimic the radio signals sent by the satellites. If a GPS unit can't receive the radio signals from four or more satellites or receives a spoofed signal then it can't accurately calculate its position on Earth.

Wednesday, July 27, 2022

Give Me Geodata

Hans Hack's Gimme Geodata just might make it onto my bookmark list of mapping tools I use on a near daily basis (a very short list which currently consists of Leaflet, geojson.io and overpass turbo). 

Gimme Geodata is a very easy to use tool for quickly downloading OpenStreetMap boundary data. To use the tool you just need to click on an interactive map to indicate your area of interest. Gimme Geodata will then list all the boundaries (and any other polygons such as administrative areas, parks, houses etc) within which your clicked location falls. For example if I click on Baltimore on the Gimme Geodata map it provides me with a hierarchical list of administrative areas, including Baltimore, Maryland and the United States.

You can then click on any of the provided boundaries to download or copy the data in GeoJSON form. Gimme Geodata is therefore a very easy to use tool for quickly finding and downloading geographical data from OpenStreetMap. For example if I wanted to create a map of all the parks in my local town I could grab the boundary data for each park by simply clicking on it on Gimme Geodata and then downloading the data to my computer.  

Gimme Geodata is very similar to MySociety's MapIt. If you provide MapIt with a latitude and longitude it will then list all the administrative areas that it falls within. You can then download the boundaries as Geometry (JSON), WKT, GeoJSON or KML data.

MapIt also features a number of query parameters which allow you to also find all the boundaries touching, intersecting or overlapping your requested location. The MapIt API includes a number of other features which allow you to define and refine the data you wish to download in lots of different ways. For example this query finds all the admin areas starting with 'Trump' -

  https://global.mapit.mysociety.org/areas/Trump.html

Tuesday, July 26, 2022

Redistricting America

Every ten years, after the national census, states have to redraw their congressional districts in response to changes in the population data. Following the 2020 census each of the 435 districts in the House of Representatives represents 761,179 people. While creating these new congressional districts with equal populations the temptation for both the Republicans and the Democrats is to gerrymander - to create new districts which are less competitive.

According to a new interactive map from CNN the new congressional map has far fewer competitive districts than before the 2020 census. In fact according to CNN there are 17 fewer competitive districts (districts which neither Biden or Trump won by 5 percentage points or less). Texas republicans are mostly to blame for this, because they have gerrymandered their state so much that instead of 11 competitive districts there is now just one in the whole of Texas.

CNN's map showing What Redistricting Looks Like Across the Country allows you to compare the new electoral map with the map used in the last Presidential election. CNN has used the results of the 2020 election to show how competitive each district is on the new congressional map and how far Democratic or Republican the seat would have been in the last Presidential election. If you click on a state on the interactive map you can take a closer look at how that state's political map has been redrawn since the last election.


Earlier this year the Washington Post devised an informative and fun way to teach its readers about gerrymandering. In order to show how the redrawing of congressional districts often involves clear attempts to make districts easier to win for one party or another the WaPo released Gerrymanering Mini Golf. 

In the Post's Gerrymandering Mini Golf game you get to play one hole of golf on each of nine different congressional district boundaries. Irregular shaped borders are one of the key indicators of a gerrymandered electoral district. Irregular borders also makes an electoral district harder to play in a round of Gerrymandering Mini Golf.

Take Ohio's 1st Congressional District. This electoral district has been so gerrymandered by the Republican Party that its boundary has been contorted into an extremely irregular shape. This means that it is a very difficult hole to play in the Post's Gerrymandering Mini Golf. The Post has given this hole a par 5, which is a strong indication of how gerrymandered the district now is. 

As well as giving each congressional district a par score the Post has given each district a compactness score. As you progress through your round of Gerrymandering Mini Golf the Post's notes on each district do a good job of explaining the pros and cons of using compactness as a measure for determining how gerrymandered an electoral district has been.

Monday, July 25, 2022

Digging to China

If you dig a hole anywhere in the United States then some wag is likely to ask you if you are digging to China. Of course if you could somehow dig a hole through the center of the Earth you wouldn't end up anywhere near China. You would emerge soaked to the skin in the south Indian Ocean, somewhere between Madagascar and Australia. That is because no point in the contiguous United States has an antipode which is located on land (except for a very few locations whaich have an antipode on one of the few mostly uninhabited small islands in the Indian Ocean).

An antipode is a point on the Earth's surface which is dimaterically opposite to another point. If you drew a straight line between these two points the line would pass directly through the center of the Earth. You can find out exactly where your home's antipode is on Topi Tjukanov's interactive map Antipodes.

if you could dig through the Earth from the USA you would end up in the Indian Ocean

Antipodes uses Mapbox's new 3D globe projection to show you what lies directly on the other side of the world from every single point on Earth. All the place labels on this 3D globe actually show antipodes. For example if you rotate the Antipodes globe to look at Argentina and Chile you won't see labels for Santiago or Buenos Aires but place labels for cities such as Beijing and Wuhan. It turns out that if you dig straight through the Earth from Argentina or Chile then you actually would end up in China.


There are many other maps which can help you find what is on the exact opposite side of Earth from your location. For example, if you enter any location into the Antipodes Map you can discover its antipode. Unfortunately for most people in the world both these antipodes maps will show you a result somewhere in an ocean or sea. Only around 15% of the world's land area has an antipode which is on land. The vast majority of us have antipodes which are in water. 

Saturday, July 23, 2022

The Brexit Temperature Map

In 2020 the UK left the European Union. For us Brits one of the fantastic benefits of leaving the EU has been the loss of our freedom of movement. Now when we enter a European Union country we are allowed to queue up at immigration control and get our passports stamped. 

One way to gauge the rip-roaring success of Brexit is to explore the Truck Border Crossing Times & Sea Crossing interactive map. For example, at the port of Dover this map shows that at this very moment there is a huge 6 km queue of cars, full of eager people excitedly waiting to have their passports stamped. When Britain was in the EU the port authorities would have just waved all those cars onto the waiting ferries. Now though they have to check & stamp every single passport. Resulting in the huge tail-backs of traffic now being experienced by the residents of southern England. 

Obviously having your passport stamped is well worth the 4 hour delays that ferry passengers are currently facing trying to travel to France. The authorities in Kent have even declared a major incident as a direct result of this Brexit success and all the traffic currently blocking the roads in southern England. They also report that there are currently over 3,000 trucks parked on the motorway, waiting for the chance to clear customs. 

Conversely if you check the border at Veurne-Ghylverde the map shows that there are currently no delays for those wanting to travel between France and Belgium. Those citizens of countries unfortunate enough to still belong to the EU will never get to experience the joy of waiting four hours in a traffic jam in the summer heat, and watching a ferry that you missed sailing off & disappearing over the far horizon.

Friday, July 22, 2022

Detecting Wildfires from Space

Le Parsien has been using imagery from the European Space Agency's Sentinel satellite array to show the spread of two wildfires currently raging in the Gironde region in southwest France. In Fires in Gironde: the fight is also being fought from space the newspaper shows how satellite imagery has been used to detect the locations of active fires, the wind direction, the extent of fire damage and the location of infrastructure which is in imminent danger from the spread of active fires.

Earlier this month two fires began in Gironde. The Sécurité Civile quickly requested that ESA's Copernicus program monitor the fires. Over more than a week the fire currently active in La Teste (shown above) has burned over 7,000 acres. Satellite imagery from ESA shows the extent of this burning. Analysis of the satellite imagery can also identify the location of residential buildings and of other important infrastructure which is in danger from the spread of the fire. It can even be used to identify the topology of vegetation in the affected areas, to help model how the fires might continue to spread.

Le Parisien uses a series of satellite imagery of the La Teste wildfire and the Landiras fire to illustrate how emergency services are using space technology to fight and help manage the two main wildfires currently raging in Gironde. In Feeling the Heat from Space the European Space Agency itself uses satellite imagery to show how the Copernicus Emergency Management Service is being used to respond to wildfires across Europe.

The ESA article includes the animated GIF above showing the active fires and burnscars from the wildfires near the commune of Guillos in Gironde. The ESA article also includes satellite imagery of the active fires in La Teste.

Thursday, July 21, 2022

The Paris Noise Pollution Map

The Bruitparif Paris Transport Noise Map visualizes noise pollution within the Île-de-France region. The map shows the estimated level of noise pollution generated by cars, trains and planes across all of Paris.

Essentially the Paris Transport Noise Map provides a heat map view of the levels of transport noise in the capital. The map allows you to view noise pollution generated by cars, trains, planes, or a cumulative noise pollution visualization of all three combined. The noise pollution levels are determined by computer modeling and not from actual measurements. 

The main criticism of computer modeled maps of noise pollution is that they are little more than maps of transport infrastructure. However when done well, like the Paris Transport Noise Map, they take into account the effect of buildings, noise screens, traffic levels, average speeds and road surfaces on the amount of noise pollution generated.

Bruitparif actually has deployed sound radars which capture noise pollution levels across the French capital in real-time. You can view the noise pollution levels recorded by these sound radars on its Rumeur interactive map. 

The Rumeur map allows you to view the sound levels recorded by any of the sound measuring stations in Paris. Click on a sound radar's marker on the map and you can view its current 'real-time' noise pollution reading and its measurement history. An interactive chart allows you to observe the selected station's entire history of decibel level measurements. 


If you don't live in Paris you can view noise pollution levels where you live on the OSM Global Noise Pollution Map. The OSM Global Noise Pollution Map uses OpenStreetMap data to estimate the levels of noise pollution across the world. 
At the heart of the OSM Global Noise Pollution Map is the simple idea of assigning noise pollution levels based on OpenStreetMap tags. Map features in OpenStreetMap are assigned a tag which describe what has been mapped. These tags can also be assigned a value. For example all roads that are tagged 'highway' are also assigned a value such as 'motorway', 'secondary' or 'residential'. 

The OSM Global Noise Pollution Map uses these tags and values to assign a noise pollution level based on general assumptions. For example highway, trunk, primary and secondary roads are deemed to be noisier than normal street or service roads. The OSM Global Noise Pollution Map also assumes that other mapped features, such as railways and retail & industrial zones, will also generate different levels of noise pollution. 

The OSM Global Noise Pollution Map isn't refined enough to take into account factors such as traffic levels & average speeds. 

Wednesday, July 20, 2022

The (Not So) Great Salt Lake

The Great Salt Lake in Utah is very, very big. Although it isn't as big as it used to be. In 1987 the lake was 3,300 square miles in size. Now, in July 2022, the lake is only around 950 square miles in size. While the size of the Great Salt Lake can fluctuate a lot naturally, due to seasonal changes in the weather, it is now undoubrably drying-up because of global warming.

You can see how drastically the Great Salt Lake is shrinking in size by viewing the lake from Space. Google Earth Timelapse allows you to view historical satellite imagery for any location on Earth. The application has 37 years worth of satellite imagery dating back to the 1980s. It is therefore possible to use Google Earth Timelapse to create your own animated timelapse image for any location showing changes over time.

The Great Salt Lake from space (1984-2020)

If you center on the Great Salt Lake in Utah on Google Earth Timelapse you can clearly see the extent that the lake has shrunk since the 1980s simply by pressing 'play' on the map's timeline.

Using Google Earth Timelapse to visualize the drying-up of the Great Salt Lake is very easy. What isn't so easy is documenting the toll of climate change on the lake by kayaking around its full circumference. Which is what EarthView did to create a 'Street View' type tour of the lake. Their Tour of the Great Salt Lake allows you to explore a first-person view of the lake in glorious 360 degree panoramic imagery. 

In June EarthView captured panoramic imagery by kayaking around the lake's eastern shore. They plan to capture imagery of the western shore in the fall. There are also plans to capture similar 'Street View' type imagery for Lake Powell, Lake Mead, Lake Tahoe and New Mexico’s Rio Grande.

Tuesday, July 19, 2022

The Pokemon Dinosaur Tour

Because of today's extreme heat the UK government is advising people to stay indoors. Thanks to Covid I've had a lot of practice of being isolated at home.  All my experience of stay-at-home orders has taught me that if you can't go out in reality then the next best thing is to explore the world virtually. Luckily many of the world's museums have developed their own virtual tours.

So here is today's Virtual Day Trip around the museums of the world:

The Pokémon Fossil Museum

The National Museum of Nature and Science in Tokyo is currently touring an exhibition of Pokémon fossils. This exhibition includes mock-up Pokémon skeletons presented alongside real dinosaur fossils. I assume the exhibition is designed to encourage children into museums. The virtual Pokémon tour certainly encouraged me to undertake a virtual tour of the National Museum of Nature and Science Tokyo.

More dinosaur fossils are on display at the Oxford Museum of Natural History. The Oxford Museum's Earth Collections section includes the museum's Palaeontological exhibits, displayed in the Dinosaur Gallery. Click on this virtual tour and you can get up close to the museum's dinosaur collection and explore the wonderful architecture of the museum's amazing exhibition hall.

If you like planes then you will love the Museum of Flight. Seattle's Museum of Flight is the largest private air and space museum in the world. It's website includes numerous virtual tours which allow you to jump inside the cockpits of some of the world's most famous airplanes, including the Concorde (shown above), the Boeing Dreamliner, and even a NASA Space Shuttle Trainer.


Aviation fans will also love the Evergreen Air & Space Museum virtual tour. Oregon's celebrated aviation museum houses more than fifty military and civilian aircraft, unmanned aerial vehicles, and spacecraft. These include Howard Hughes' massive Spruce Goose aircraft.



Want more? Maps Mania's Virtual Tours of the World's Museums includes links to ten more virtual tours of museums and art galleries located around the world.

Monday, July 18, 2022

Extreme Weather Warnings


NASA: Heatwaves and Fires Scorch Europe, Africa, and Asia

If you live in the northern hemisphere then you have probably noticed that this summer is a lot hotter than normal. Countries in Europe, Africa, Asia and North America have in recent weeks had to issue extreme weather warnings as temperature records have been broken across all four continents. Prolonged heat waves have also led to an outbreak of wildfires in North America, Europe and North Africa. 

The European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts' 2m Temperature map forecasts high temperatures across much of Europe for both Monday and Tuesday of this week. Air temperatures at 2 m above the earth's surface "approximate most closely to the conditions a person would most likely experience".

In the UK the Met Office has issued the first ever Red Extreme heat warning in the country. Temperatures of over 40°C have been forecast for both Monday and Tuesday of this week. The UK's current hottest ever temperature was 38.7°C, recorded in 2019.

The French national meteorological service Météo-France has issued red warnings in 15 departments in the west of the country. They are urging people who live in these departments to maintain 'absolute vigilance', especially on Monday.

Spain's national meteorological service AEMET has issued high temperature warnings in many central regions and extreme high temperature warnings have been issued for much of the Basque Country region.

The European Commisions' Copernicus Energency Management System provides an interactive map showing active fires across Europe & North Africa. Fires in Portugal, Spain, France, Greece and Morocco have led to hundreds of deaths and the evacuation of thousands of people. The extreme temperatures in France have led the authorities in Gironde to warn that the heat and wind will likely impede efforts to stop fires spreading and could lead to outbreaks of more wildfires. 

Saturday, July 16, 2022

Mapping the EU's Illegal Attacks on Migrants

Asylum seekers trying to cross the Aegean Sea into Greece are routinely being put in danger by the Hellenic Coastguard. Dingies being used by migrants may have their engines and / or fuel tanks removed, or may be forced to stop by dangerous maneuvers designed to create large waves.  Migrants who manage to land on Greek soil have been arrested and taken out to sea and abandoned on life rafts or dingies with no engines. Migrants have even been abandoned on uninhabitable rocks. These illegal actions taken to prevent asylum seekers from entering the EU has come to be known as 'drift-back'.

The Hellenic Coastguard deny using drift-back which is why the Safe Passage Foundation and Allianz Kulturstiftung have spent two years documenting evidence of drift-backs in the Aegean Sea. The interactive map Drift-backs in the Aegean Sea provides evidence of over 1,000 separate incidents of drift-back since Feb 2020.

The interactive map plots incidents which have been reported to the project by verified sources. The map also includes a timeline which allows you to browse the reported incidents by date as well as by location. If you select an incident's marker on the map you can read a verified account of the incident and click-through to check the sources for any of the reported incidents of drift-back.

Friday, July 15, 2022

The World's Most Threatened Flypath

The East Asian-Australasian flyway stretches from New Zealand in the Southern Hemisphere to Arctic Russia in the Northern Hemisphere. It is one of the eight major north-south migratory corridors used by birds. Around a third of all migratory bird species in the world use the flyway during their annual migrations. It is also home to around a third of the world's human population. Wherein lies the problem. The rapid expansion of urban environments along the flyway is having a dramatic effect on the environment.

In East Asia over 50% of all waterbird species who depend on wetland environments are in decline. You can learn more about the East-Australasian flyway and its importance to bird migration on CNN's The Planet's Most Threatened Flypath. CNN's investigation into the effect of urban expansion on the flyway and its impact on migratory bird species uses a number of maps to illustrate the migratory journeys taken by different bird species in this part of the world. 

The CNN report also looks at a new $3 billion Regional Flyway Initiative to restore and protect wetlands in the region. The project plans to restore 50 wetlands along the flyway route in the hope that it will help both bird species and biodiversity to recover. 

If you are interested in the migratory journeys of birds then you might also enjoy eBird's maps of individual bird species migrations. The eBird Status and Trends webpage allows you to view animated maps which show the migratory journeys undertaken every year by thousands of individual species of bird.

Thursday, July 14, 2022

A Billion Star Map of the Milky Way

Ben Schmidt has published an interactive map of the Milky Way which plots the location of around one billion stars. As well as being an incredible map of our immediate stellar neighborhood Billion Point Scatterplots is a very impressive demonstration of Ben's own deepscatter library for visualizing very large datasets.

The deepscatter library is able to load data as needed as the user zooms or pans, so it is capable of displaying more data points than is normally possible in a browser. Ben has previously used the library in his All of US dot-density map of the U.S., which maps every American by race. 

The Billion Point Scatterplots map of the Milky Way uses data from the European Space Agency's Gaia Mission. Gaia is a space observatory which is being used to create a three-dimensional map of more than a thousand million stars in the Milky Way. One billion of these stars can now be explored in Ben's interactive map of the Milky Way.

As you scroll through Billion Point Scatterplots you can learn more about the deepscatter library. If you just want to play at being an interstellar astronaut, you can press the 'Hide narrative' button and pan and zoom around this billion star map of the Milky Way.

Wednesday, July 13, 2022

Mapping 2,000 Nuclear Detonations

Human Beings have detonated over 2,000 nuclear weapons. All of these weapons have had an impact on the environment and many of them have had a dramatic impact on local communities. The ICANW Nuclear Test Impact Map shows the locations of all known nuclear weapon detonations around the world and tells some of the stories behind the impacts of those detonations. 

On the interactive map nuclear weapon detonations are shown using categorized markers, to indicate if a detonation was atmospheric or underground. If you select a detonation marker on the map you can learn more about the date of the explosion, the country responsible and the number of detonations.

The markers with the outline of a person indicate stories and testimonials of those who have had to live with the consequences of nuclear detonations. These include the stories of those born with defects caused by radiation exposure, testimonials from islanders evicted from their homes, and accounts of the environmental damage caused by nuclear tests around the world.

Tuesday, July 12, 2022

In a Galaxy Far, Far Away

Today NASA has released the first images captured by the James Webb observatory. These include incredible pictures of the SMACS 0723 cluster, the Carina Nebula, Stephan's Quintet and the Southern Ring Nebula.

Professor Brant Robertson from the Astronomy and Astrophysics department at UCSC has released an interactive Leaflet.js powered map of the James Webb Telescope's first Deep Field image of SMACS 0723. SMACS 0723 is a huge cluster of galaxies in the Southern Hemisphere constellation Volans. 

You can also view interactive zoomable images of the newly released images on the dedicated Webb Space Telescope website. Their Gallery section includes high-resolution zoombale images of SMACS 0723, the Carina Nebula, Stephan's Quintet and the Southern Ring Nebula.

All four images can also be downloaded in high-resolution from the Image Resources page of the Webb Space Telescope website. This means that you can easily create your own interactive Leaflet.js maps of these galaxies far, far away. If you want to create a zoomable image map with Leaflet.js then you might find the image overlay section of the documentation helpful. 

The Migratory Journeys of Birds

eBird collects and documents data on bird distribution, abundance, habitat use, and trends. It has detailed information on more than 1,000 bird species around the world. This week eBird has updated its Bird Status maps so that they are now all interactive. 

Select a species of bird on the eBird Status and Trends webpage and you can view an interactive map which shows the species' 'Abundance', 'Range' and 'Habitat'. If you select the 'Weekly' option you can actually watch an animated map showing the species' relative abundance for every week of the year, revealing the species' migratory patterns.

If you are interested in bird migratory journeys then you can dive deeper into different bird species abundance patterns on eBird's Abundance Animations page. This section of the eBird website provides examples of abundance animations for a number of different bird species. For example the animation above shows the weekly abundance of the Gray-cheeked Thrush over the course of one year. Gray-cheeked Thrushes migrate to northern South America in winter. They then spend the summer months in Alaska and Canada.

The Globe of Bird Migration is a mapped visualization of the migratory paths of 11 different species of birds around the world. The simplified migratory paths of each of the 11 bird species are animated on a 3d globe over the course of twelve months. 

You can select to view the path of any of the 11 species using the menu on the left of the globe. When you select a species from the list you can view a few details about the birds' estimated population and conservation status. You can also discover where it breeds and winters and how far the species migrates.

The 3d globe was custom coded for the visualization using the Unity WebGL engine and 3DS Max.

Monday, July 11, 2022

Mapping the Health Effects of Climate Change

 
The Wellcome Trust has mapped out 120 years of climate data in order to explore the health effects of climate change. In Tracking the health effects of climate change you can see where around the world drought, flooding, extreme heat and climate-sensitive disease have affected the health of the local populations.

Select one of the four climate metrics and you can see how every country in the world has been affected by these climate events over the last 120 years on an interactive map. For example if you choose 'Drought' the interactive map will show the number of people affected, the total number of events and the damage caused by flooding in countries around the world.


You can also explore the health effects of climate change over time for individual countries. If you select a country from the drop-down menu you can view a map which shows climate anomalies by area and over time. For example if you select to view the flooding data for India you can see a map  showing where flooding anomalies have most occurred and a timeline of flooding anomalies by year (shown in the screenshot above). The timeline of flood events in India over time clearly reveals the growing problems of flooding in the subcontinent over the last few decades.

Friday, July 08, 2022

Climbing the Sierra Nevada Mountains

Climbers Nathan Longhurst and Travis Soares are both attempting to climb all 247 peaks in the 'Sierra Peaks Section' of the Sierra Nevada Mountains in the fastest time ever. You can follow along as they complete their challenge on their amazing SPS 2022 Live Tracking Map.

In February of this year Nathan Longhurst set out to climb 247 mountain peaks in under six months. He plans to finish that challenge today by climbing the last seven northern Palisade peaks he has yet to climb. The SPS 2022 Live Tracking Map allows you to follow Nathan and Travis' progress in real-time on a 3D map. The tracker uses GPS to show the live position of the climber's on top of a three.js powered map of the Sierra Nevada Mountains.

The tracker includes a playback option (the small play button) which allows you to view a sped-up animation of the last few hours of the climb. The map uses a completely customized 3D terrain renderer based on open aerial data (USDA NAIP), elevation data (USGS NED), and named locations (USGS BGN). 

Today (July 8th 2022) Nathan and Travis will be climbing Temple Crag, Gayley, Sill, North Palisade, Thunderbolt, Winchell, and Agassiz. These are the last seven peaks in Nathan's challenge (Travis started his attempt a little after Nathan so has a few more peaks to climb after today).

Thursday, July 07, 2022

Mars & Moon Globes

Like lots of other developers I've been having a lot of fun playing with Mapbox's new 3D globe view. The new globe projection option in Mapbox GL and Mapbox mobile SDKs allows you to turn your 2D maps into fully interactive 3D globes. 

This new 3D globe view isn't restricted to terrestrial maps. It can also be used to turn maps of other planets into interactive 3D globes. For example here is a 3D Moon Globe, created by adding a Moon basemap to Mapbox GL and using the new globe projection.

You can travel even further out into the Solar System on this 3D Mars Map. Both the Moon and the Mars interactive globes use map tiles from OpenPlanetary. The OpenPlanetaryMap project has released a collection of basemaps that can be used for creating planetary web maps (currently this includes basemaps only for the Moon and Mars). All the OpenPlanetaryMap basemaps are XYZ-based Web Mercator projected tiles, so they can easily be used with mapping libraries such as Mapbox, Leaflet, Google Maps and OpenLayers.

Both my Moon & Map globes are hosted on Glitch. This means you can clone these 3D globes by simply pressing the 'remix' button. If you have a basemap source for any other planet you can then simply cut & paste the map tiles URL into my code and you will instantly have a 3D globe of that planet.

If you want to explore more 3D globes then have a look at the Twitter hashtag #mapboxglobe, which Mapbox has been using to share some of the globes that developers have been creating with this new projection option.

Wednesday, July 06, 2022

The Energy Industry Map

The European Commission's interactive map The Energy and Industry Geography Lab provides an overview of Europe's energy infrastructure and the potential for developing cleaner energy.

The inital map view of The Energy and Industry Geography Map shows the location of the various types of power plants and their individual capacity. This layer provides a wonderful overview of how individual countries generate electricity. For example, the number of red dots (indicating coal fired power stations) in Germany and much of Eastern Europe shows that the continent still has a long way to go in eradicating greenhouse gas emissions.

The number of large green dots in France shows its reliance on nuclear energy (in 2021 69% of France's electricity production was generated by nuclear power). Norway is dominated by hydro-electric power plants (hydropower plants generate around 90 % of Norway's electricity). A large number of hydro plants are also located in north Italy, in the Italian Alps.

The Energy and Industry Geography Map includes a number of other map layers. These include a layer displaying energy infrastructure networks - showing the location of the continent's gas pipelines. The map also includes layers which show the locations of planned future energy projects in Europe and assessments of the continent's renewable energy potential. 


You can explore how America generates power on the U.S. Power Plants map. U.S. Power Plants is an interactive map showing the locations, size and type of America's electric power plants. The map shows where different types of power plant are located, how much each type of energy source contributes to the country's power supply and how much each source contributes to CO2 emissions. 

The number of map filters on U.S. Power Plants means that the map can provide lots of different insights into American power supply. For example the individual fuel filters allow you to see where different power sources are concentrated in America. Select hydro power and you can see that hydro power plants are concentrated in the north-west and north-east of the country. While solar power plants are mainly located in California. 



Esri's Atlas of Electricity is another great way to explore where the USA gets its electricity from and how it distributes power across the country. At the heart of an Atlas of Electricity is an interactive map plotting the location and size of the grid's power plants and transmission cables. This map allows you to explore the location and capacity of the country's electricity producing power plants and how they connect to the national grid. 

As well as mapping the physical infrastructure of the electricity grid Esri's story map examines the primary energy sources used to generate electricity in the USA. It maps the size and capacity of coal-fired power plants, natural gas power plants and petroleum power plants. Alongside these fossil-fuel sources of power An Atlas of Electricity plots the size and capacity of the U.S.'s nuclear power plants, hydroelectric power plants and solar & wind power plants.

Tuesday, July 05, 2022

The World's Crookedest Street


Driving up Lombard Street

Both Lombard Street, San Francisco and Snake Alley, Burlington, Iowa have at various times been announced as the bendiest, least straight roads in the world. It is debatable whether either road can truly claim to be the crookedest street in America, let alone the world. However we can perhaps settle the argument over whether Lombard Street is less straight than Snake Alley or whether Snake Alley is actually more crooked than Lombard Street.


Snake Alley is 292 feet long

Using FreeMapTools to measure the length of each street (as the crow flies) I calculate that Snake Alley is 292 feet long and Lombard Street is 466 feet long (measuring only the bendy intersection between Hyde St & Leavenworth St). Snake Alley has 5 switchbacks, so has 1 switchback for every 58.4 feet. Lombard Street has 8 switchbacks, so 1 switchback for every 58.25 feet. There really isn't much in it but using this very crude method of calculation Lombard Street is just a little bit more crooked than Snake Alley.

Unfortunately neither Lombard Street or Snake Alley are measured on Curvature, which uses a more sophisticated method of measuring the relative straightness of different roads. 

Curvature color-codes the world's roads based on how many curves they have. The amount of curvature of individual roads is determined using OpenStreetMap data. Individual roads are divided into sections and the radius of curvature at every segment of road is calculated. To get a final curvature score the lengths of the most curvy segments on a road are then added together.

Unfortunately there is no score for either Lombard Street or Snake Alley.

Street View Animations

I created the Street View animation of Lombard Street at the top of this post using Map Channels' Team Maps. Using Team Maps it is very easy to create a Street View animation for any route. On Team Maps you just need to create a map with an empty feed. In the map editor you can then use the 'route drawing tool' to create a route. Once you have saved your route you can then press the 'play' button to follow the route on Google Maps Street View. If you get stuck you can follow this Team Maps tutorial on YouTube

The Changing Face of Australia

Australian men don't do housework. The Australian 2021 census reveals that across Australia women are expected to do the washing, cooking, cleaning and laundry. The census found that in only one postcode area in the whole country (Oodnadatta) are men and women doing equal amounts of unpaid housework. Even in homes where women earn more than men women do more unpaid housework than the men. 

ABC News has used data from the 2021 census to explore how Australian neighborhoods compare. An interactive map in What Australia’s 2021 Census reveals about the changing face of our neighbourhoods allows you to enter your postcode to view local data on the age profile & gender ratio, on people's religions, on country of birth and on the amount of housework carried out by both men & women.

The 2021 census results show that for the first time, first and second-generation migrants to Australia make up the majority of the population (51.5%). If you enter your postcode into the interactive map you can view the neighborhoods of your city colored by the top country of birthplace outside of Australia. In the state capital cities England remains the country of origin (outside of Australia) for the most people.  However each of these cities have areas where migrants from other countries make up the majority of first and second-generation Australians. 

Monday, July 04, 2022

Small Multiples of Global Heating


Germany is heating up. Mean hot days per year in the districts

In response to the recent extreme heat which has been experienced in much of the northern hemisphere a number of data visualization practitioners have turned to small multiple maps in order to show how climate change is leading to hotter temperatures over time.

A small multiple is a series of maps (or graphs or charts) using the same scale, which allows a series of data to be easily compared. Like climate stripe visualizations small multiple visualizations of average annual recorded temperatures can be very effective in showing the effect of global heating over time. 


More and more extremely hot days

For example Spiegel (paywalled) recently published this small multiple visualization to show where weather stations across Germany have recorded temperatures over 35 degrees centigrade since 1971. The series of maps clearly shows that extreme temperatures are becoming much more common in Germany, particularly over the last decade. 

The small multiple visualization at the top of this post was published by Zeit (paywalled) last week. This data visualization shows the number of hot days (over 30 degrees) recorded since 1951. Again this small multiple provides a very clear and very easy to understand visualization of how global warming is leading to ever more days with extreme temperatures in Germany.


Germany's Heating Up. Number of Days above 30 Degrees

The same data has been used by Marco Sciani in his visualization Germany's Heating Up. His GitHub page Germany's Heating Up uses R to create a small multiple visualization of the effect of climate change on German temperatures. 

Back in 2020 Zeit also released Too Warm Here, a tool which allows you to generate the climate stripes for any German town. Zeit's Too Warm Here included a small multiple maps visualization of how temperatures have changed in the whole of Germany over the last 137 years.


In this small multiple maps visualization Germany is colored for every year since 1881 to show the average annual temperature for that year. The map visualizes very clearly how in the last 22 years Germany has experienced temperatures which are far hotter than the previous average annual temperatures.