A Blue Planet

Maney, the publishers of the Cartographic Journal have today released their Maney Feature of the Month ‘Cartography & Surveying’ about cartography and surveying. Part of that feature is my contribution about some of the mapping results of my PhD research. It focuses on a series of maps that show the gridded cartogram technique applied to various themes from the human and physical environment, and briefly explains the underlying method.
As this blog entry also happens to be the 100th post on the Views of the World website, I have created a new version of the gridded world population cartogram. The map shows our blue planet a little brighter than the version that I created for the Maney feature (which puts the main focus on the topographic display), and also displays the major rivers traversing the spaces of humanity as pulsing arteries of an essential element. This is the ‘Blue Human Planet’:

Map of a Blue Planet: Gridded Population Cartogram of the World
(click for larger map)

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Urban development in the city of Cologne (Köln)

Mapping Cologne
In a previous post on this website I looked at urban mapping showing population changes in London. This time I dug up a different example for mapping cities from my map archive: The German city of Cologne (Köln) is one of Germany’s largest cities with a total population of approximately 1 million people. It its over 2000 years lasting history, its urban landscape changed considerably, and since the Prussian times in the 19th century fairly good mapping records cover the modern land use change from the pre-industrialised to the post-modern city. In a GIS mapping project some years ago, these changes have been digitized in full detail from some major topographic maps, covering the changes in the urban land use since 1850 (see bottom image of this page for the legend to this animation):

Map animation of the Land Use Change in the German city of Cologne / Köln

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Global Water Insecurity

Global threats to human water security and river biodiversity is the title of a new study that points out that almost 80% of the world’s population are exposed to some risk of insecure freshwater resources (published in Nature 467, 555-561 (30 September 2010) | doi:10.1038/nature09440). The researchers created a global raster plotting the security level of water resources based on an index of water threats which is discussed in their paper.
Much of the threats in wealthier countries can be counteracted with technology, which explains much less actual insecurity in these countries – but therefore puts biodiversity at risk and resulting in a high price for an inevitable resource of human life.
Talking to BBC News Peter McIntyre from the University of Wisconsin, one of the scientists involved in the study, puts it this way:

“But even in rich parts of the world, it’s not a sensible way to proceed. We could continue to build more dams and exploit deeper and deeper aquifers; but even if you can afford it, it’s not a cost-effective way of doing things.” (Source: BBC)

The unaltered stress level of global freshwater resources as published in the study is presented in this map (Source: Nature):
Global geography of incident threat to human water security and biodiversity / Source: Nature
Accompanied by the map of biodiversity, this gives an interesting insight to the impacts on biodiversity. The impact on human population remains less shown in this depiction but is another crucial issue of the paper. As mentioned before, 80% of the world population are exposed to threatened water resources. By applying their map to the gridded-cartogram technique, the whole impact of these threatened water resources on the population becomes apparent. The 80% at risk become visible, as the map transformation preserves the geographical reference of the underlying grid. The emerging picture is going along quite well with the findings of the study and thus adds another interesting perspective on the issue of threatened water resources in the most populated regions in the world. All data from the study is available on http://www.riverthreat.net/data.html and we used that data to reproject the key maps of the study.
This map shows the “natural” picture of the human water security threat level from the study:

Map of Global Water Insecurity
(click for larger version)

When taking the investments on water technology into account, this picture changes considerably, as the next map shows:

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Pakistan: A submerged population

The monsoon rain has left a wide range of Pakistan‘s populated regions flooded. Especially the floodplains surrounding the River Indus are severly affected, as images of the Smos satellite show. Also other satellites, such as TerraSAR-X and the recently launched TanDEM-X support emergency response for the slowly growing international aid. These technologies are useful for location-related information, but to fully understand the dimension of the floods, it helps to have a closer look at the population distribution. The following gridded population cartogram (an enhanced version from the world population atlas) draws a picture of where people live in Pakistan. The underlying elevation information allows to understand the topography and the Indus is included for better orientation. The map shows that beyond the urban centres of the largest cities (labelled), much of the about 170 million people in the country are living along the rivers and in the floodplains while the Eastern and Southeastern regions remain less populated:

Pakistan Population Map
(click for larger map)

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