The lighter side: A changing Earth at night

NASA’s recent release of a new Earth at night composite image is the first release of a new global map of night light distribution since 2012. Since their previous release, NASA has worked on an improvement of the underlying algorithms that provide clearer and more accurate imagery from the raw satellite data.
The latest version (shown as a small inset map in this cartogram feature) is not only the most accurate picture of light intensity around the globe, but the underlying data also allows a direct comparison of the changes that occurred between 2012 and 2016. For achieving this, the datasets of the two years were corrected for the changing light effects caused by the moon as well as “seasonal vegetation, clouds, aerosols, snow and ice cover, and even faint atmospheric emissions (such as airglow and auroras)” which “change the way light is observed in different parts of the world”. Both datasets also cover the period of a full year to take seasonal changes into account.

Cartogram of Changes in the Earth at Night imagery
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Call for Papers: The Challenges and Potentials of Contemporary Atlases

Call for Paper and Panel Contributions
The Challenges and Potentials of Contemporary Atlases
Association of American Geographer’s (AAG) Conference 2018
New Orleans, 10 – 14 April 2018
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Changing Political Landscapes of Germany 2017


Germany's Vote / Deutschland hat gewählt
The following cartogram series provides a detailed look into the changed political landscapes in Germany following this year’s general election. While the previous maps gave an insight into the strongest party in each constituency, these maps give a clearer picture of the vote share distribution that also determines the constitution of parliament which follows a system of proportional representation. Continue reading

Bundestagswahl 2017: Electoral cartograms of Germany

The re-election of Angela Merkel as chancellor of Germany in yesterday’s federal election (Bundestagswahl) came as little surprise. Yet the final result was still widely seen as a political earthquake. The extreme right ‘Alternative for Germany‘ (Alternative für Deutschland, AfD) entered the federal parliament (Bundestag) with 12.6% of the second vote (Zweitstimme) that determines the proportional distribution of seats (having gained 7.9% compared to the 2013 election). With 94 seats, the party has become the third largest after CDU (26.8%, 200 seats, having lost 7.4%) and SPD (20.5%, 153 seats, having lost 5.2%). FDP re-entered parliament with 10.7% of the second vote (up by 6.0%, 80 seats). Former opposition leader Die Linke went up by 0.6% to 9.2% (69 seats), followed by Grüne at 8.9% (67 seats, having gained 0.5%). CDU’s sister party in Bavaria, CSU, lost 1.2% and is at 6.2% (46 seats).
AfD’s rise is the most significant change in the political landscape which also becomes visible on the new electoral maps of this year’s election. The following two maps show the distribution of the largest party in the first and second vote. In the southern parts of east Germany (Saxony) AfD managed to win three constituencies with the first-past-the-post first vote, and also became the largest party in eight constituencies in the second vote that decides on each party’s proportional representation in parliament.
Apart from this change, the electoral landscape of the strongest party in each constituency remains similar to previous elections: SPD, despite their losses, remains strongest in the urban areas of north-, central- and western Germany and are stronger in the constituency vote, while CDU dominates rural regions and much of Southern Germany except for Bavaria where CSU is taking CDU’s role. Die Linke only becomes visible as a winner in East Germany, while the Green Party holds on to its only constituency seat in Berlin:

Equal population projection map of the First and Second Vote Results in the 2017 German General Election / Bevölkerungsrastertransformationskarte der Ergebnisse der Bundestagswahl 2017
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In Focus: Brexit and the UK General Election

Political InsightThe introductory words by Prime Minister Theresa May in the Conservative manifesto 2017 outlined the main focus for the government’s General Election campaign: ‘Brexit will define us: our place in the world, our economic security and our future prosperity’. But when it came to Brexit, the campaign itself featured little of political substance from either of the two main parties. The impact of the EU-debate on the (quite unexpected) election outcome is very complex, with the anticipated Conservative gains in Leave-voting Labour seats failing to materialise.
In a contribution for the “In Focus” feature of Political Insight (September 2017, Volume 8, Issue 2) I looked at the outcome of the general election from the perspective of Brexit:

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Species at Risk

Trying to get a picture of where and how many species globally are endangered or even at risk of extinction is a difficult undertaking. For 50 years the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) publishes the red list of threatened species. The list is a “comprehensive information source on the global conservation status of animal, fungi and plant species and their links to livelihoods”. It contains over 77,000 species of which according to the most recent report more than 22,000 are at risk of extinction. IUCN considers species at risk when they are “critically endangered, endangered or vulnerable.
Mapped here is data from the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) Red List of threatened species including endangered and vulnerable species. The main cartogram shows countries resized according to all animal and plant species assessed as being at risk of local extinction. The two smaller cartograms highlight that conservation efforts have very different spatial degrees of severity, which also partly reflects the different geographical distribution of species.

Cartogram of Species at Risk
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