NASA Earth Observatory: “The map above depicts changes in water storage on Earth—on the surface, underground, and locked in ice and snow—between 2002 and 2016. Shades of green represent areas where freshwater levels have increased, while browns depict areas where they have been depleted. Data were collected by the GRACE mission, which precisely measured the distance between twin spacecraft as they responded to changes in Earth’s gravity field. In sensing the subtle movements of mass around the planet, the satellites could decipher monthly variations in terrestrial water storage.” The GRACE observations form the basis of a study published this month in Nature on changes in global fresh water availability. More at the JPL’s GRACE-FO project page. [Benjamin Hennig]
Peggy Osher died Tuesday at the age of 88, the Portland Press-Herald reports. She had been suffering from Parkinson’s disease. She and her husband, the cardiologist Dr. Harold Osher, who survives her, donated their sizeable map collection to the University of Southern Maine in 1989 and advocated the creation of a dedicated map library; the Osher Map Library and Smith Center for Cartographic Education opened in October 1994. Her obituary notes that in 1974 she convinced her husband to buy a map on a trip to London—a decision that escalated, as it often does. The Osher family was profiled in 2011 by Maine magazine. [WMS]
The Atlantic’s Ed Yong looks at a problem in the public health response to this month’s Ebola virus outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo: inaccurate maps of the areas affected by the virus.
On Thursday, the World Health Organization released a map showing parts of the Democratic Republic of the Congo that are currently being affected by Ebola. The map showed four cases in Wangata, one of three “health zones” in the large city of Mbandaka. Wangata, according to the map, lies north of the main city, in a forested area on the other side of a river.
That is not where Wangata is.
“It’s actually here, in the middle of Mbandaka city,” says Cyrus Sinai, indicating a region about 8 miles farther south, on a screen that he shares with me over Skype.
Almost all the maps of the outbreak zone that have thus far been released contain mistakes of this kind. Different health organizations all seem to use their own maps, most of which contain significant discrepancies. Things are roughly in the right place, but their exact positions can be off by miles, as can the boundaries between different regions. […]
To be clear, there’s no evidence that these problems are hampering the response to the current outbreak. It’s not like doctors are showing up in the middle of the forest, wondering why they’re in the wrong place. “Everyone on the ground knows where the health zones start and end,” says Sinai. “I don’t think this will make or break the response. But you surely want the most accurate data.”
“French prosecutors on Thursday sought prison terms of up to seven years for a group of Hungarians on trial over accusations they stole rare maps worth millions of euros from a string of French libraries,” Agence France-Presse reported yesterday (Expatica France, The Local). The group of seven reportedly cut maps from books in libraries in cities like Lille, Nancy and Toulouse; they were caught when one of them was stopped by Hungarian customs officials. We usually talk about map thieves as single, even singular individuals, but a gang of map thieves? Move aside, Smiley. [Tony Campbell/WMS]
Matt Nolan and his family have created a topographic map of Denali, the highest peak in North America, using a form of stereo photogrammetry Nolan calls fodar: they repeatedly overflew the peak in a small airplane and took photos of the terrain below with a digital SLR. The end result is a 20-cm terrain model they’re touting as the best ever of the mountain, far more detailed than previous maps. Nolan outlines their endeavour in two blog posts: one focusing on the personal, the other on the technical; the latter also has lots of terrain models and comparisons with USGS data.
Daniel Huffman had the opportunity to redesign an airline’s route map for their in-flight magazine. He came up with the above design, which in the end the client decided against, but he talks about how he came up with it in this blog post. He calls it a cartogram, because he’s expanding or shrinking the continents to account for where the routes are clustered (which I guess kind of counts); and he’s adopted what he calls a “root-and-branch” style to avoid the cluttering and overlapping of multiple lines. It’s a fascinating read, particularly if you like learning about the mapmaking process.
Puerto Ricans, as U.S. citizens, are able to travel freely between Puerto Rico and the U.S. mainland. In the wake of Hurricane Maria, many of them sought refuge in Florida, New York and other parts of the U.S. Using anonymized cell phone location data for some 500,000 smart phones, data analysis firm Teralytics was able to map where Puerto Ricans moved from August 2017 to February 2018. CityLab has the maps and the story: “Between these months, nearly 6 percent of the Puerto Rican population left the island and is still living in the continental U.S. Another 6 percent left between October and September 2017 but returned to the island by February 2018.”
Mapping London takes a close look at a 1928 map of the London Underground by E. G. Perman. Perman’s map, with its use of colour, italic lettering and focus on green spaces, seems like it comes from a completely different era, even though it was published only a few years before the release of Beck’s iconic Tube map.
John Nelson’s map of tornado migration in the United States, showing the seasonal variations in tornado occurrence, is a master class in data visualization and design—in deciding on the right way to present geographic information. The map combines three styles—impressionistic choropleth, weighted mean centre movement diagram, and small multiple—to present month-by-month information all at once; in the accompanying text (also here), Nelson discusses some of the alternatives he could have chosen instead. And in a separate post he talks about how he made the map. [Esri]
Previously: Mapping Tornado Tracks.
Another one in French. Last month, Radio-Canada had the story of a manuscript map of the St. Lawrence River that was recently acquired by the Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec. The 18th-century map takes three sheets to trace the course of the St. Lawrence from the Ottawa River to Anticosti Island, and the BANQ’s map librarians have concluded that it’s the work of French philosophe and cartographer Jean-Nicolas Bellin. The map can be viewed on the BANQ’s website, which those who can’t read French should be able to manage. [WMS]
National Geographic has digitized its entire map archive—every map the magazine has published since 1888, more than six thousand of them—but you won’t be able to browse through it. (Subscribers can access the maps through their digital archive by consulting the issues they first appeared, but, again, no public access to the database.) What they’re doing instead is posting them through social media channels, forming the basis of “Map of the Day” posts on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Can’t help but feel they’re teasing us a bit.
The University of Lausanne has come across a pair of globes—one celestial, one terrestrial—made by Mercator in the 16th century. Mercator apparently had a reputation as a globemaker, and a number of his globes are still in existence today. But “not particularly rare” is not the same as “not particularly interesting,” and the globes, which first turned up on campus in 2004, are now the subject of an exhibition at the Espace Arlaud in Lausanne, which runs until 15 July, and an extensive and detailed website that talks about the globes and how they were discovered and authenticated. Digital versions of each globe have also been produced: here’s the terrestrial globe; here’s the celestial globe.
All of this, by the way, is in French. If reading French is not your thing, the Harvard Map Collection also has a pair of Mercator globes, which you can view via their (rather dated) website.
Last week new lava vents opened in the Kīlauea volcano’s eastern rift zone, with fissures destroying a number of homes in the Leilani Estates subdivision of the island of Hawai‘i’s Puna District. Here are some maps.
The Washington Post’s coverage is typically first rate, its maps providing both detailed coverage and context: start there. More detailed maps come from the Kīlauea section of the USGS’s Volcano Hazards Program website, with fissure maps of the entire eastern rift zone (see above) and thermal maps of the Leilani Estates fissures receiving daily or near-daily updates.
The eruption was preceded and accompanied by a number of earthquakes; NOAA has created an animated map showing the incidence, magnitude and depth of the earthquakes that took place during the week of the eruption.
Paleoartist Julio Lacerda has produced a pictorial map of the world as it was during the Late Jurassic (163½ to 145 million years ago). Available via Studio 252MYA, which sells paleontology-related swag (we have their Lambeosaurus pillow—it was a housewarming gift), it comes as either as a poster or as a framed print, and in two sizes; prices range from $26.50 to $142. Julio is threatening to do maps of other periods, which I hope he follows through on.