A brief geography of time

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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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Destination: Iceland

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1,767,726 people have visited Iceland through Keflavik Airport in 2016. These statistics from the Icelandic Tourism Board (Ferðamálastofa) confirm that there has been an exponential growth in tourism to the country. Six years ago, when this latest growth really started after the infamous Eyjafjallajökull eruption. It looks as if this incident triggered a new wave of tourism, Inspired by Eruptions?, further fueled by new flights not only from established European mostly low cost carriers but also from the new Icelandic carrier Wow air founded in 2011. Globally successful movies and TV series further helped putting Iceland on the map of the global tourism industry.

Tourism in Iceland 1949-2016
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A Lonely Planet: Á hverfanda hveli?

This is the Icelandic version of a poster on mapping wilderness and remote areas created for the the 2016 Science Day at the University of Iceland (Vísindadagur Verkfræði- og náttúruvísindasvið, Háskóli Íslands):
Víðerni og afskekkt landsvæði ná yfir margbreytileg svæði á yfirborði jarðar. Slík svæði eru strjálbýl og eru að hluta til afsprengi af skipulagi sem hvetur til þéttingar byggða. Yfir helmingur jarðarbúa í dag býr á svæðum sem skilgreind eru sem borgir, og meira en 95% jarðarbúa býr á um 10% af yfirborði lands. Hin 90 prósentin eru þó fjarri því að vera einsleit víðernissvæði, Það eru mismunandi skoðanir á því hvort og þá hvernig eigi að nýta hin óbyggðu svæði heims.
Aðeins um 15% fólks í ríkari hluta heimsins býr í meira en klukkustundar fjarlægð frá næstu borg. Í fátækari hluta heimsins er hlutfallið 65%. Hér er kynnt nýstárleg nálgun á myndrænni framsetningu og skilningi á hinum afskekktu landsvæðum jarðar sem eru að líkindum hennar síðustu víðerni. Notuð er tækni sem kalla má „bjöguð hnitvörpun“ (gridded cartogram transformation). Tæknin er notuð til kortleggja hversu fjarlæg svæði eru í hugum meirihluta mannkyns. Niðurstöður sýna umfang afskektra svæða eins og það birtist með tilliti til ferðatíma til næstu borgar, hvort sem er yfir land, vötn eða sjó. Stærð hverrar svæðiseiningar byggir á útreikningi þess tíma. Kortið gefur afskekktum svæðum aukið rými og veitir nýja sýn á svæðisbundið umfang afskekktra svæða í hlutfalli við þéttbýl svæði.

Wilderness - Icelandic
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Beyond fire and ice: Mapping Iceland in the 21st Century

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Iceland and maps have a long tradition in the history of cartography. From the first maps of the country in the 16th century (including works from cartographers such as Ortelius and Mercator, also featuring some nice sea monsters) to today’s advanced digital mappings of Iceland’s diverse natural environment (such as this innovative mapping of water in Iceland or this quite beautiful representation of contour lines), Iceland never really had a lack of quite good cartographic works. Much less covered than the natural environment are the social landscapes of the country, such as this just recently updated version of a gridded population cartogram of the country where each grid cell is proportional to the number of people living in that area:

Gridded Population Cartogram of Iceland
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In Focus: Regions between Recentralisation and Independence

Political Insight2014 will be remembered as a year in which two nation-states faced the debate around city-regional configuration within their borders in very different ways. The United Kingdom witnessed a closely fought pro-union outcome in its Scottish independence referendum while, in Catalonia, despite a consultation process showing a huge majority declare their desire for independence, this outcome was not recognised by the Spanish government.
In an article for the “In Focus” section of Political Insight (April 2015, Volume 6, Issue 1) Igor Calzada and I looked at the rapidly changing balance of power between states and their regions.

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Griðastaður – Að taka hlé


This map is created using the approach described in the book Rediscovering the World and which is also summarised in this ‘Lonely Planet’ blog post, showing the remotest places of the island as the largest areas. Continue reading