Global Temperature Anomalies

Recent figures released by the NASA as well as the British Met Office and NOAA confirm that 2015 was the hottest year ever recorded. In addition, the period of the past five years was also the warmest in recent times. The following map animation visualises a data series by NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) that depicts “how much various regions of the world have warmed or cooled when compared with a base period of 1951-1980. They show temperature anomalies, or changes, not absolute temperature. (The global mean surface air temperature for that period was estimated to be 14°C or 57°F.)” It uses an equal population project in form of a gridded cartogram so that the underlying temperature anomalies can seen in relation to the global population distribution:

Animation of Global Temperature Anomalies from 2010 to 2015 on a gridded population cartogram
(click for larger version)

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Mapping the Anthropocene

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The effects of humans on the global environment are perceived to be so significant by some scientists that they argue the onset of industrialisation (in the eighteenth century) has been a major driving force in environmental change on a par with the forces of nature. It is this rapid impact that has led some geologists to unofficially name (but not, as yet, officially recognise) this recent period of the earth’s history (from around 1760-onwards) as the Anthropocene (roughly translating as the era – or epoch – shaped considerably through the actions of humanity).

The Human Planet: Gridded Population Cartogram
Gridded population cartogram displaying the topography of the world in relation to the population distribution (click here for larger version)

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Ecological Footprints

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COP21 Paris Logo“There is no planet B”. This slogan has become widely mentioned recently in relation to COP21, the United Nations conference on climate change in Paris. The slogan highlights that the debate about climate change relates to much more than simply a changing climate. The underlying processes have a lot to do with our lifestyles and the related patterns of consumption and waste which cause severe damages to the environment (including the global climate). Carbon emissions are therefore one major trigger of climate change, but are also an effect of our unsustainable ways of life. The ecological footprint shown in the following map is a measure that looks at the impact that humanity has on our planet:

The Ecological Footprint Map of the World: A gridded cartogram projection
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Horsetrading: Equine Europe

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
(click for larger version)
Download as poster (PDF, 62MB)

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