Canadian Maps Claim the North Pole—Canada Doesn’t

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Canada Political Divisions (English), 2006. Natural Resources Canada.

Most maps published by the Canadian government, including the poster-sized map I have on my wall, claim a vast tract of the Arctic Ocean, all the way up to the North Pole—basically everything east of 141 degrees west longitude—as Canadian territory. The National Post’s Tristin Hopper argues that this is a mistake. Canada doesn’t even officially claim that (briskly melting) expanse of ice.

The incorrect Canadian maps are all based on the old-fashioned “sector theory” of claiming the Arctic. Back when the Arctic Ocean was largely an inaccessible chunk of ice that swallowed explorers, polar nations were generally content with dividing it up like the slices of a pizza that had the North Pole at its centre. […]

Nevertheless, while various expansionist Canadian politicians have enthusiastically touted some version of the sector theory over the years, it has never been officially adopted as Canadian policy.

It’s a position that seems to exist only on the maps produced by Natural Resources Canada. [CAG]

(I seem to have a number of other Canada-related items in my queue. Let me get to them next.)

Hazard Maps of Yukon Communities

Old Crow Landscape Hazard Risk Map (detail).
Old Crow Landscape Hazard Risk Map (detail).

Several Yukon communities are built on permafrost. In the context of climate change, that’s something of a problem. CBC News reports on a six-year research project that has produced hazard maps of seven Yukon communities; the maps evaluate the risk to future development from permafrost melting, flooding and ground instability. [CCA]

A Map of Canada’s Roads and Highways

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This striking high-resolution map of Canada’s roads and highways, produced by EarthArtAustralia, is a work of GIS: it’s assembled from Canadian GIS road data, with roads coloured and weighted by importance (freeways are bright yellow, back roads are blue). This map is also inarguably a work of art: I could easily have one on my wall. It’s certainly being sold as such, with high-resolution digital downloads and prints available. (EarthArtAustralia has a number of downloadable and frameable maps based on road and waterway data: they’ve been coming at a furious clip lately.)

Canada Maps the Arctic Seafloor

CBC News reports on the Canadian Coast Guard’s project to map the continental shelf under the Arctic Ocean, now in its third and final year. This is part of Canada’s attempt to stake a claim to the continental shelf (and seas above it) beyond the 200-mile nautical limit, which other Arctic countries (hello, Russia) are also trying to do.

Previously: Arctic Maritime Jurisdiction Map.

Nick Ross Helps Out

On Canada Day, Nick Ross drew a map of Canada to help Americans out:

On the Fourth of July, Nick Ross drew a map of the U.S. to help Canadians out:

The W. K. Morrison Special Collection

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Jacques Nicolas Bellin, “Carte de l’Accadie et Païs Voisins Pour servir a l’Histoire Generale des Voyages,” 1757. Map, 21 × 33 cm. NSCC W. K. Morrison Special Collection.

Nova Scotia Community College’s Centre of Geographic Sciences has begun digitizing the maps from the W. K. Morrison Special Collection. Morrison, once a cartographer at the Centre, left them his collection of more than 2,500 maps when he died in 2011.

It is a mixed media print collection of historical maps, atlases, periodicals and books that is unique in the Province in terms of its focus on the early mapping of Nova Scotia and specifically the 18th Century nautical charts of J.F.W. DesBarres’ Atlantic Neptune. The collection also contains a complete run of the Gentleman’s Magazine from 1731-1802, and other early European periodicals containing maps not present in other collections. In addition to the maps that cover the advances in geographic knowledge over five centuries, there are a number of important atlases dating from the 18th and 19th Centuries as well as an interesting collection of Nova Scotiana from the 19th and early 20th centuries.

So far about 270 maps have been digitized; they’re available hereMedia release (from last December), Chronicle Herald. [WMS]

Satellite Imagery of Fort McMurray Wildfire Damage

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Satellite imagery from the Pléiades-1A satellite showing the extent of wildfire damage caused to Fort McMurray, Alberta can be viewed through a web-based mapping application released by the government of Alberta. (Doesn’t work in Safari for Mac; works fine in Chrome.) [CBC News]

Previously: DigitalGlobe Satellite Imagery of Fort McMurrayFort McMurray Fire Roundup.

DigitalGlobe Satellite Imagery of Fort McMurray

DigitalGlobe’s satellite imagery of the Fort McMurray wildfire, which uses “short wave infrared imagery (SWIR) to ‘cut’ through the smoke and identify the active footprint and burning hotspots” and reveals where buildings have been damaged or destroyed by the fire, can be viewed at Gizmodo and on DigitalGlobe’s own blog.

Previously: Fort McMurray Fire Roundup.

Canada’s Arctic Waters Are ‘Dangerously Unmapped’

Climate change has made the Arctic increasingly open to shipping, and more ships travel the Canadian Arctic every year. But as Claire Eamer argues in Hakai magazine, the lack of mapping makes such voyages a dangerous proposition. “[J]ust because the ice is melting it doesn’t mean the waterways are safe. The federal Canadian Hydrographic Service (CHS) is responsible for mapping Canada’s waters. So far, they’ve only managed to map roughly 10 percent of Arctic waterways in accordance with international standards.” [CCA]

Fort McMurray Fire Roundup

Here are some links to maps and satellite imagery of the wildfire that forced the evacuation of Fort McMurray, Alberta this week.

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1. The fire is fuelled in part by abnormally high temperatures: 32°C (90°F) was reported earlier this week. The above temperature anomaly map, based on MODIS data from NASA’s Terra satellite, demonstrates how unusual these temperatures are: “The map above shows land surface temperature from April 26 to May 3, 2016, compared to the 2000–2010 average for the same one-week period. Red areas were hotter than the long-term average; blue areas were below average.”

2. NASA’s Earth Observatory is also assembling a collection of Landsat satellite images of the fire:

(Sources: 3 May, 4 May, 5 May)

3. Smoke from the fire is making it into the United States, and turning up on NOAA imagery:

4. Maclean’s and CBC News have tried to depict the size of the fire by superimposing it on other cities in Canada and elsewhere in the world; so has Kyrstyn Morochuk, whose maps have been reposted by the Huffington Post. I’m not sure who came up with it first.

Previously: Canadian Wildfire Maps.

Canadian Wildfire Maps

nrcan-fire-danger

Yesterday wildfires swept through Fort McMurray, Alberta, the population centre of the oil sands industry, forcing the evacuation of nearly all of its more than 60,000 residents. It therefore seems timely to point to the maps produced by the Canadian Wildland Fire Information System. There are static maps of current conditions, fire danger maps providing an index of fire risk and potential damage (see above for today’s), and various forecasts, as well as an interactive version.

Vancouver Archives Digitizing Old Maps

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Guide Map: Vancouver-New Westminster, Burnaby and North Shore Municipalities, 1935. City of Vancouver Archives.

The City of Vancouver Archives: “Thanks to funding from the British Columbia History Digitization Program, we’ve recently completed a project to digitize over 2100 maps and plans and made them available online for you to use and re-use. We’ve tried to digitize these maps with enough resolution to support future types of re-use and processing, including optical character recognition and feature extraction.” A selection is available on Flickr. [WMS]