A brief geography of time

Sometimes referred to as the fourth dimension, time has a highly geographical relevance. For human geography, population sizes can have as much impact on the ‘tempo of places’ as culture or even climate. In physical geography, the concept of time is indispensable for an understanding of how the natural environment has changed and keeps changing.
In the 21st century, time has been described as being a commodity itself, affecting everything from manufacturing and trade, to financial flows and global transport links.
The general geographic distribution of time zones is based on the general concept of dividing the world into zones of equal time following a 24-hour day around the world. In theory, this means that there are 12 time zones of 15° width in which each differs by one hour’s time difference.
The necessity of time zones was closely linked to growing needs of transport and communication links during industrialisation. British railway companies began adopting Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) which helped to coordinate timetables. In 1880, GMT became standard across Britain and time differences of tens of minutes between cities in the country started vanishing. At a global level, time zones became established in the first decades of the 20th century.

Population Cartogram of Time Zones
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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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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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Unequal Elite: World University Rankings 2016/17


Education and money undoubtedly go hand in hand. A closer look at the metrics that go into the creation of higher education rankings such as the Times Higher Education’s World University Rankings (THE WUR) proofs just the point that without adequate resources and funding global success can hardly be achieved. The following map which was created by analysing data of the 2016/17 World University Ranking data with regards to its spatial distribution of the most successful universities in this ranking. The map is a gridded cartogram which is reshaped to show national wealth, measured by gross domestic product. The land area in each country has been resized to reflect economic output. North America and Western Europe bugle to dominate this world map, while the entire continent of Africa virtually disappears. On this new world map, all the universities in the THE World University Rankings are plotted, with the larger, red dots representing world’s top 50 universities and the smaller circles representing the lower ranks:

Gridded cartogram projection of the THE World University Rankings 2016/17 showing GDP
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Political Landscapes of the United Kingdom in 2017

How much has the United Kingdom changed following the second general election within two years, and following the referendums on independence in Scotland in 2014 and the membership of the European Union in 2016? Each poll appeared to have had a significant impact on the political debate and the next vote which never seemed far away. As such, the 2017 general election looks like the culmination of the preceding ballots where all of the previous debates got a more or less prominent mention during the electoral campaign. Ultimately this led to some significant changes in the political landscapes of the country with each corner of the United Kingdom being affected by these dynamics.
Politicians, spin doctors and commentators quickly aim to interpret the outcome according to their views. In contrast, the following series of maps showing some key statistics and data from the election results aims to provide a more neutral as well as more comprehensive look at the underlying geographies. It shows different angles on key characteristics such as winners and runners-up in each constituency, changes in votes, vote shares of the two largest parties, turnout and changes in turnout between the last two general elections.
In this feature, different cartographic techniques are used to show how the electoral landscape in the UK is shaped not only by physical space, but also by political dimensions as well as from the perspective of people. The conventional (land area) map is therefore complemented by a hexagon cartogram where each parliamentary constituency is represented by a hexagon (some changes in constituencies over the past decades are reflected in split and merged hexagons), and by a gridded population cartogram where each area is resized according to the number of people living in that area.
Each of the three maps therefore provides a unique insight into the diverse spatial patterns of politics that emerged from the 2017 general election. To fully understand the new political landscapes of the United Kingdom, only a combination of different perspectives as shown here can help to gain a more complete picture. Geography matters not only in its physical dimension, but just as much in its social and political spaces that are depicted in these maps.
Here is the ultimate cartographic wrap-up of the 2017 general election in 21 maps:

Conservative vote share
Gridded Population Map and cartogram series of the UK General Election 2017: Conservative Vote Share
(click for larger and labelled version)

Labour vote share
Gridded Population Map and cartogram series of the UK General Election 2017: Labour Vote Share
(click for larger and labelled version)

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