Data skills in geography: Gridded cartograms

Geographical Cartograms
Data Skills in Geography is a two year programme at the Royal Geographical Society, supported by funding from the Nuffield Foundation. Continue reading

In Focus: Where Art meets Science

Political InsightPublic spending cuts have been an important part of the political debate in Britain in recent years. In an article for the “In Focus” section of Political Insight (April 2016, Volume 7, Issue 1) Danny Dorling and I plotted the distribution of funding for the arts and universities in England.
The United Kingdom, and especially England, has become geographically extremely unequal. This inequality is not only seen in growing economic disparities within the population, but also becomes increasing visible across all parts of public life, such as science and education, as well as the arts. A report on arts funding in 2013, highlighted just how concentrated such funding was within London compared to the rest of the country. This represents the continuation of a now long-established trend.

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Asylum seekers in Europe


1,321,560 persons have applied for asylum in the European Union in 2015 according to Eurostat. Eurostat defines an asylum applicant as “a person having submitted an application for international protection or having been included in such application as a family member during the reference period”. This is not the number of granted asylum claims, neither does it mean that this is a figure for first-time applicants but includes all claims having been made in that year.
The spatial patterns for these figures are very different than those arriving as refugees on the shores of the Mediterranean (see here for 2015), as are the number of asylum claims in the past year. The following two cartograms put these figures into their spatial context by providing two different ways of interpreting the data. The first map is a cartogram where countries of the European Union are resized according to the total number of asylum applicants in the past year (all countries having more than 50,000 applications are labelled in that map). The second map shows this in relative proportions drawn on a population cartogram. Here the basemap shows the EU countries resized according to their total population, i.e. providing an impression of each country’s population share, and indicates the relative number of asylum seekers measured in asylum applications per 1 million population:

Cartogram of Asylum Applications in Europe in 2015
(click for larger version)

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Mediterranean Refugees (March 2016 Update)

Prince's Teaching InstituteThis year’s New Teacher Subject Day organised by the Prince’s Teaching Institute took place at Altrincham Grammar School for Girls near Manchester. For the geography teachers the focus was on the topic of Geopolitics and Borders to which I contributed a talk about ‘The Power of Maps: A Cartographic Journey along the World’s Borders’ (see slides at the end of this page) and also organised a practical session where the participants learned to create their own cartogram. Related to the theme and linking to the content of my talk, this cartogram was an update of the Refugee arrivals map from 2015 using the latest data by UNHCR. The following map shows the number of refugee arrivals by sea in the Mediterranean in the first months of 2016 (as of March, 3):

Cartogram of Mediterranean Refugee Arrivals in 2016
(click for larger version)

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World Population Cube


World Population CubeLast November’s theme of the Super Science Saturday at the Oxford University Museum of Natural History was Planet Earth. As part of the activities I contributed a map cube which I created a few years ago.
Cubic globes are not a new idea. They put a nice twist to showing just a simple map, and more importantly, they allow for some activity which get the kids involved just as much as adults. A cube is much less work than creating a spheric version of Earth, and (as said by Carlos Furuti on his online cube globe collection) the cube is an ideal introduction to folding one’s own pseudoglobes.
At last November’s Super Science Saturday I displayed some of my work and offered a ‘Map Cube Activity’ where children (and adults) could cut, fold and glue their own globes. My version of a map cube does not display a normal world map, but a gridded population cartogram (hence the name ‘World Population Cube’). You can create your own cube by using the following template: Continue reading

Air Spaces: Where the Planes Fly

Cartographic Summit 2016The Future of Mapping was the theme of a Cartographic Summit jointly held by the International Cartographic Association (ICA) and Esri at Esri’s headquarters in Redlands (California). The aim of the event was to examine new directions in mapping in a time at which mapping is evolving at a rapid pace, enabling us to communicate in new ways, analyze important issues, and understand our world. Among the keynote speakers was graphics designer Nigel Holmes whom I had a chance to work with several years ago while making some contributions for Lonely Planet’s travel-infographics book How to land a jumbo jet. Meeting him in person at last reminded me to put online the last of the four cartograms that I made for the book.
The following map is a gridded cartogram visualisation of global flight tracks taken from the OpenFlights database. The map distorts the land area by the number of flights that pass a certain space which leads to these ‘ploughing patterns’ over some areas where are airplanes basically just passing by, such as in the western part of Australia where planes simply fly over on their way to the most populated southeast of the country. The colours in the map relate to the Worldmapper colour scheme (explained here).

Gridded Cartogram Map of Global Flight Paths
(click for larger version)

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