Horsetrading: Equine Europe

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There is a lot horsetrading going on in Europe. Literally. At the request of the European Commission the World Horse Welfare and Eurogroup for Animals have just published a report titled Removing the Blinkers which looks at the health and welfare of European Equidae in 2015. The report is the first comprehensive documentation of where horses are being kept in Europe, how they are kept, and how they are traded. The following cartogram shows a Europemapper-style cartogram depicting the EU population figures for equidea as stated in the report, using their mean figure (averaging the lowest and highest estimates for the number of horses in each country) which counts a total of just over 7 million horses in the European Union (compared to FAOSTAT estimates of only 4.3 million horses kept as livestock):

Cartogram map of horses in the European Union
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Species of the Greater London National Park

A city becoming a national park? What sounds almost like a contradiction is a very real idea. As the website of the Greater London National Park Campaign explains: “Uniquely combining a biodiverse landscape with nature reserves, parks and gardens, [London] covers an area of over 1,500 km2 and is home to more than 8 million people. Recognised as one of the world’s most important urban habitats, green, blue and open spaces occupy over 60% of London. Over 1,300 Sites of Importance for Nature Conservation cover 19% of [London]. Londonwide the capital is home to more than 1,500 species of flowering plants. More than 300 species of bird have been recorded in the city. With over 300 languages spoken, 170 museums, four UNESCO World Heritage Sites and one of Britain’s National Trails the Greater London National Park* is open for you to explore.”
Pioneered by Guerrilla Geographer Dan Raven-Ellison who convinced an ever growing number of people to support him in his endeavour to turn London into the first National Park City. I was amongst those people making a little contribution by mapping out species counts from the database of Greenspace Information for Greater London. The maps were also included in the environment section of the Londonmapper project which I am working on, and they depict the distribution of each species in a cartogram-style map distorting the shapes of the London boroughs according to how many of each species have been sighted in an area. The following maps are from that series (of which I hope to get a few more mapped in future – are there any red squirrels in London?), and especially the hedgehogs came to fame during the launch of the Londonmapper website last year:

Hedgehog
London Species Map: Hedgehogs
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Earthquake risk zones: A people’s perspective

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A M7.8 earthquake has occurred in Nepal “as the result of thrust faulting on or near the main frontal thrust between the subducting India plate and the overriding Eurasia plate to the north.” As the USGS summarises, “although a major plate boundary with a history of large-to-great sized earthquakes, large earthquakes on the Himalayan thrust are rare in the documented historical era. Just four events of M6 or larger have occurred within 250 km of the April 25, 2015 earthquake over the past century”.
In a paper for the Journal of Maps published in 2014 I have analysed and visualised data documenting earthquakes that have occurred since 2150 BC. The following map was part of the material supplementing the publication showing the results of the analysis shown on an equal population projection. The gridded cartogram gives every person on the planet an equal amount of space while highlighting the most densely populated spaces in relation to the earthquake risk (calculated via the intensity of earthquakes recorded since 2150 BC). Also shown are the world’s megacities (over 5 million population). The map shows the large populations that make even Nepal (with its almost 28 million people) much more visible than it would be on a conventional map, highlighting why this event turns out to be quite disastrous. The map also shows what the USGS statement above mentions that Nepal is amongst the areas in the region which are far less subject to major earthquakes (as indicated by the yellow to blue shading in the map there – Nepal is the rather large spot squeezed on top between the areas that represent the large populations of India and China):

Map of earthquake risk zones on an equal-population projection
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Download as poster (PDF, 62MB)

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Volcanoes and Human Population

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The Calbuco volcano in southern Chile erupted for the first time in more than five decades, which in the global media was covered more for its visual spectacle rather than its perception as a major catastrophe. This can be partly explained with the low threat that Calbuco poses to larger numbers of people. As reported by the BBC, “authorities have declared a red alert and evacuated more than 4,000 people within a 20km (12 mile) radius”. This is a relatively low number as the volcano is situated in a sparsely populated, mountainous area. Natural events usually turn into natural disasters when they happen in more densely populated areas. The following map shows how human settlement patterns and the global distribution of volcanoes correlate by drawing a 100km radius around each of the world’s volcanoes and then projecting this data onto a gridded population cartogram. This equal-population projection results in some of these 100km risk zones around the volcanoes to become hugely visible, because there are large populations living in this area, while other volcanoes and their risk-radius become almost invisible due to the low number of people living there. Very often, these are the decisive differences between a volcanic eruption being a natural event (or even spectacle) and a natural disaster, which these events can become in the red-shaded areas of this map:

Map of volcanic risk zones on an equal-population projection
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Healthy Soils for a Healthy Life

International Year of SoilsHealthy Soils for a Healthy Life is the motto of the UN International Year of Soils which aims to “increase awareness and understanding of the importance of soil for food security and essential ecosystem functions.” As explained on the campaign’s website, “soil is the thin layer of material on the Earth’s surface. It is a natural resource consisting of weathered and organic materials, air and water. As it is the medium in which plants establish themselves and grow, the most widely recognized function of soil is its support for food production. Soil provides nutrients and water that are absorbed through plant roots and contribute to the regulation of water and atmospheric gases and therefore play an important role in climate regulation.”
Soil therefore matters most where is is near human population, which at the same time puts soils under extreme pressure in these areas. Soil types not least determine where humans used to settle when they gave up their nomadic lifestyles and started becoming more stationary as farmers. Nowadays, some of the most fertile soils are found in the most densely populated spaces on the planet, which is shown in the following map. The map shows the major soil types classified in the FAO/UNESCO Soil Map of the World reprojected on a gridded population cartogram where a grid is resized to give every person living within a grid cell an equal amount of space (reducing the map in those spaces most where there are fewest people):

Map of major soil groups
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Water worlds: Ocean Chlorophyll levels

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The ocean is the last frontier that has not been discovered by cartogram techniques before. As such, it was an inevitable step in my PhD research some years ago to test the creation of a gridded ocean cartogram, a cartogram that is limited to the extent of the world’s oceans (also linking nicely to my past research on coastal ecosystems).
Chlorophyll concentrations in the world’s oceans are important indicators for the presence of algae and other plant-like organisms that carry out photosynthesis. As such, phytoplankton (which contains the chlorophyll) is an essential element of the food chain in the seas as it provides the food for numerous animals. Variations and changes in the chlorophyll levels are also relevant for the study of the ecology of the sea. Changing chlorophyll levels can indicate changing sea temperatures and other conditions in the oceans that cover about 72 percent of the planet’s surface.

Gridded cartogram visualisation of Ocean Chlorophyll concentrations
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