Surface Temperatures Warmest Since 1880

According to analyses by NASA and NOAA scientists, 2015 was the warmest year on record, with average surface temperatures the highest they’ve been since 1880. The above video shows the long-term warming trend since 1880 as a five-year rolling average. The baseline average is from 1951 to 1980; orange colours are warmer than that average, blue colours cooler. (Credit: GSFC Scientific Visualization Studio.)

Mapping U.S. Drug Overdoses


The New York Times maps the rise in deaths from drug overdoses. “Some of the largest concentrations of overdose deaths were in Appalachia and the Southwest, according to new county-level estimates released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. […] The death rate from drug overdoses is climbing at a much faster pace than other causes of death, jumping to an average of 15 per 100,000 in 2014 from nine per 100,000 in 2003.” [via]

Made in Algeria: An Exhibition of Colonial Cartography


Opening today at the Musée des civilisations de l’Europe et de la Méditerranée in Marseille, France, and running until May 2nd, Made in Algeria: Généalogie d’un territoire is an exhibition of nearly 200 “maps, drawings, paintings, photographs, films and historical documents as well as works by contemporary artists who surveyed the territory of Algeria.” The exhibition examines not only the cartography of the French colonial period, but the political and cultural narratives—to say nothing of the territory itself—created by colonial mapmaking. Lots of material on the exhibition’s website, but it’s French-only. [via]

Beware of Fake Snowfall Maps

Meterologist Dan Satterfield warns about fake snowfall maps appearing on social media. “[R]esponsible meteorologists do not post raw model data more than 3 days away from an event. It’s just not likely to be correct, and could actually give someone a false sense that the storm will not impact them. […] If you see a map showing snowfall totals, it almost certainly did not come from NOAA, or an AMS Certified meteorologist. There are even hoax maps floating around from storms in the past” (emphasis his).

Rare Atlas Identified via Reddit


NPR and the Washington Post report a fascinating story of how a rare atlas was identified in an unlikely fashion: being posted to Reddit. Last month, reference librarian Anders Kvernberg stumbled across an uncatalogued atlas in the vaults of the National Library of Norway. He could make out that it was an Ottoman atlas from 1803, but not much more than that, since he couldn’t read Ottoman Turkish. He did scan and post one of its maps to Reddit, where Redditors went to work translating the text. Then, a couple of weeks later, another Redditor posted an Ottoman map of Africa, which was identified as part of the Cedid Atlas (Cedid Atlas Tercümesi), published in Istanbul in 1803. The Library of Congress has a copy, which it acquired in 1998, digitized, and put online. Kvernberg went and looked—and, he says, “started recognising the scans. Then I realized this was the very same atlas I had held in my hands a few weeks earlier.” The Cedid Atlas was rare: only 50 were printed, and only 14 were known to be held in public institutions. It turns out that the National Library of Norway has the 15th. [via]

Mapping the American Revolution

revolutionThe National Geographic website has an interview with Richard H. Brown and Paul E. Cohen, authors of Revolution: Mapping the Road to American Independence, 1755-1783 (W. W. Norton, October 2015). In the interview, Brown says that “some of the best collections of Revolutionary War maps have been among the least used. Historians tended to use the same maps over and over again to illustrate their narratives. What we did is to take the opposite view. We wanted the maps to tell the story, so we picked maps that we thought would tell the story of the battles best.” Buy at Amazon (Canada, U.K.)

Persuasive Cartography


Persuasive cartography: it’s a term I haven’t encountered before, though I’ve seen kind of maps it refers to: propagandistic art that uses cartography to make a point—think of all those caricature maps leading up to World War I. Many of them can be found in Cornell University Library’s P. J. Mode Collection of Persuasive Cartography: there are more than 300 maps available online, plus some pages about the genre. (Above: a 1951 map from the French Communist Party that takes a pro-Soviet line against the U.S. military.) [via]

Globemaker Peter Bellerby Interviewed


Peter Bellerby is interviewed in Fashion Times. Bellerby is the founder of Bellerby & Co., which makes hand-made, hand-painted—and very expensive—globes. (When I blogged about them last August, the cheapest globe I could find in their catalogue was £999.) Bellerby’s PR and marketing is fairly sophisticated and positions a globe as a serious luxury good; being interviewed in Fashion Times is consistent with that. They’re not exactly in the same market as Replogle, if you follow me. [via]

Upcoming Talks

19 January, Washington, DC. The authors of Mapping the West with Lewis and Clark (Levenger, 2015) will discuss their book. “Ralph E. Ehrenberg, chief of the Library’s Geography and Map Division, and his co-author, Smithsonian Institution curator emeritus Herman J. Viola, retrace the expedition with more than 100 images reproduced in exquisite detail.” Library of Congress, James Madison Memorial Building (6th floor), 101 Independence Ave SE, Washington, DC 20050. Noon. Free admission.

21 January, Chicago. Chicago Map Society meeting. Prof. Harry L. Stern will give a talk entitled “How Close was Captain Cook to Discovering the Northwest Passage?” Ruggles Hall, The Newberry Library, 60 West Walton Street, Chicago IL 60610. 5:30 PM. Donations requested.


21 January, Washington, DC. Dr. Geoffrey Martin will discuss his bookAmerican Geography and Geographers: Toward Geographical Science (Oxford University Press, 2015). The event will include “a display of related rare maps and atlases from the collections of the library’s Geography and Map Division.” Library of Congress, James Madison Memorial Building (basement room B-02), 101 Independence Ave SE, Washington DC 20050. 7:00 PM. Free admission.

26 January, New York. Andrew Kapochunas of will give a talk entitled “How Maps and Map Collecting Helped an Immigrant Find His Place in the World.” “Andrew will take attendees on a journey through time, beginning with the Grand Duchy of Lithuania in the 13th Century, and through space, as he discusses his struggle to find his place in the world.” New York Public Library, Stephen A. Schwartzman Building, South Court: Classroom A, Fifth Avenue at 42nd Street, New York, NY 10018. 6:30 PM. Free admission.

4 February, London. Maps and Society lecture. Dr. Kevin Sheehan will give a talk on “Construction and Reconstruction: Investigating How Portolan Maps Were Produced by Reproducing a Fifteenth-Century Chart of the Mediterranean.” Warburg Institute, School of Advanced Study, University of London, Woburn Square, London WC1H OAB. 5:00 PM. Free admission.

4 February, Kennebunk, ME. “Mapping the History of Boatbuilding in Kennebunkport.” Dinner and lecture. “Osher Map Library’s Matthew Edney and local historian Steve Spofford will explore the interconnection beetween early maps and the rise of shipbuilding in Kennebunkport.” Table, 27 Western Avenue, Kennebunk ME 04043. 5:00 PM. $70. [tickets]

5 February, Boston. Boston Map Society meeting. “Dr. Ron Grim, Curator of Maps at the Normal B. Leventhal Map Center at the Boston Public Library, will talk about these off-site maps hung at the Langham Hotel while guests taste Scotch. (Lecture is free, drinks are pay-as-consume.)” Langham Hotel, 250 Franklin Street, Boston MA 02110. No time given yet.

If all goes well, this listing of upcoming talks and lectures will be a regular feature on The Map Room. If you are organizing a map-related event, or just know about one, please contact me with the details.

Pluto Before and After

Compare pre-flyby and post-flyby maps of Pluto and you’ll get a sense of just how much our understanding of that dwarf planet’s terrain improved last year. The pre-flyby map was derived from Hubble observations, the post-flyby map from imagery collected from the New Horizons spacecraft (obviously). Image credits: NASA/JHUAPL/SwRI/Marc Buie. [via]

Previously: New Maps of Ceres and Pluto.

Wichita Navigation Company Profiled

spica-sextant Last October the Wichita Eagle profiled Ken Gebhart, the 79-year-old owner of Celestaire, a local company that sells navigation equipment, including sextants. The sextants are Chinese imports; Celestaire itself makes the navigation tables and almanacs that accompany sextant use. You might have thought that sextants had gone the way of horses and buggies, but apparently the U.S. Navy is reviving celestial navigation training, as a fallback in the event of a GPS failure. [via]