World Population Cube

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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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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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Under the spreading chestnut trees

Chestnuts roasting on an open fire” has become a popular notion of Christmas ever since Tormé and Wells wrote their Christmas Song, made famous by Nat King Cole‘s recording in 1946. The chestnut has seen a decline in use over the centuries in Europe, having been brand-marked as ‘food for poor people’. But almost all across the continent (likewise in North America) it now also sees a revival in popularity in Winter time, especially around Christmas. Global chestnut production has constantly been rising, growing from almost 650,000 tons in 1993 to over 2 million tons in 2013 according to FAOSTAT figures. And while the chestnuts roasting on an open fire have their origin in the United States, chestnuts consumed there have often traveled a long way. Although growing conditions are ideal, the USA have no significant chestnut industry and account for less than 1% of the global chestnut production. This is different in Europe where commercial chestnut farming takes place in the Mediterranean, which, however, is challenged by the now top chestnut producer China. China now produced almost 85% of the world’s chestnuts.
The following gridded cartogram is a visualisation of the areas in the world where chestnuts are grown. Using data produced by EarthStat the map shows each grid cell resized according to the total amount of chestnuts produced in that area:

Map of World Chestnut Production
(click 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
(click for larger version)

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