From Analemma to Zodiac: Bellerby’s Glossary of Globe Terminology

Globemaker Bellerby & Co. has posted a glossary of globe terminology that covers more general geographical terms and concepts (equator, hemisphere) as well as things that are mainly found on globes, covering the various mount types, to common features like time dials and analemmas, to calottes (which are the little circles that cover the poles, where the gore points meet; oddly enough “gore” doesn’t get its own listing).

A New Map for The Wheel of Time

Left: Thomas Canty’s map from The World of Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time (1997); Right, Ellisa Mitchell’s map from Origins of the Wheel of Time (2022).

While researching his forthcoming book, Origins of the Wheel of Time (Tor, Nov 2022), Michael Livingston discovered that a map published in a 1997 guide to the Wheel of Time universe—which unlike the maps in the Robert Jordan novels showed the entire world—was, in the opinion of Jordan himself, wrong: according to notes Livingston discovered in the author’s archives, one continent was misnamed and another was too small (see above left). With the permission of the estate, Livingston worked with map artist Ellisa Mitchell—who drew the original map for The Eye of the World—to create a new map of the Wheel of Time world that reflected the author’s intent (see above right). Details, and closeup looks at the maps, at Livingston’s Tor.com article.

Climate Change Could Affect Maritime Boundaries

Sea level rise and coral reef destruction could have an impact on international boundaries, according to a study by University of Sydney researchers published in Environmental Research Letters. Coral reefs form the basis for a number of claims on maritime zones, which could suddenly be in doubt if reef destruction or changes to a reef’s low-water line erase that basis. Press release.

Southeast Asia Historical Maps

Mercator, Insulæ Indiæ orientalis præcipuæ, 1606
Mercator, Insulæ Indiæ orientalis præcipuæ, 1606.

The Digital Historical Maps of Singapore and Southeast Asia project, hosted by (the soon-to-be-defunct) Yale-NUS College in Singapore, curates a collection of pre-1900 maps of southeast Asia. The maps are drawn from the Bodleian, Beinecke and Leiden libraries, as well as Singapore’s National Library Board. [Maps Mania]

The Idea of North

Thony Christie explores the question of why north is at the top of modern maps by looking in detail at medieval and early modern maps, which had no consensus. “I think that the re-emergence of the Ptolemaic world map at the beginning of the fifteenth century and the development of modern cartography that it triggered which eventually led to the dominance of north orientation in mapmaking, perhaps combined with the increased use of the magnetic compass.”

Ships Are Increasingly Spoofing Their Location

Ships spoofing their location is an increasing problem, Anatoly Kurmanaev reports for the New York Times. All large ships are required to carry an AIS transponder that transmits the ship’s ID and position, but some ships are starting to find a way around that.

[O]ver the past year, Windward, a large maritime data company that provides research to the United Nations, has uncovered more than 500 cases of ships manipulating their satellite navigation systems to hide their locations. The vessels carry out the deception by adopting a technology that until recently was confined to the world’s most advanced navies. The technology, in essence, replicates the effect of a VPN cellphone app, making a ship appear to be in one place, while physically being elsewhere.

Its use has included Chinese fishing fleets hiding operations in protected waters off South America, tankers concealing stops in Iranian oil ports, and container ships obfuscating journeys in the Middle East. A U.S. intelligence official, who discussed confidential government assessments on the condition of anonymity, said the deception tactic had already been used for weapons and drug smuggling.

We’ve seen examples of this before, but this is starting to look like an endemic problem.

The Gough Map and the Lost Islands of Cardigan Bay

Gough MapA paper in Atlantic Geoscience is basically arguing that the Gough Map offers evidence that the Welsh legend of the sunken kingdom of Cantre’r Gwaelod —a sort of Welsh Atlantis—is real. Actually, no. Not quite. That’s clickbait—and the headline for the BBC News story about the study.

In their paper, the complete text of which is available online, physical geographer Simon Haslett and professor of Celtic David Willis are trying to reconstruct the post-glacial evolution of Wales’s Cardigan Bay using historical and folklore sources as well as bathymetric data and geological evidence. (It’s pretty obvious which author contributed what.) The Gough Map shows two islands that don’t correlate to any real island in Cardigan Bay; the study suggests that the islands may have in fact existed and have since been lost to flooding, erosion and other post-glacial changes to the shorelines. There are several submarine highs in the bay that may match up with the lost islands. The paper hypothesizes that the Cantre’r Gwaelod legend is a folk memory from when the coast was much different: that there were islands in Cardigan Bay, that they disappeared during the human era, and this legend is one of their traces.

In other words, a bit different from taking an old map at entirely too much face value (which, to be sure, has been enough of a thing that it was first to mind when I saw the story). They’re using the map and the legend to try and figure out the shoreline’s history—not using the map to prove the legend.

McPhee’s Maps of Alberta and Saskatchewan

Thumbnails of Alex McPhee's maps of Alberta and SaskatchewanAlex McPhee’s ridiculously detailed map of Alberta, which included things like the area burned in the 2016 Fort McMurray fire and the province’s Hutterite colonies, came out in print form—specifically, in the form of a 42″×68″ wall map—last year. Now he’s done it again: a similarly detailed 36″×66″ wall map of his home province of Saskatchewan, which he’s just sent to the printer. Each map starts at $60.

Flooding in Pakistan

Satellite image of floods in the Sindh province of Pakistan, 30 Aug 2022
MODIS Land Rapid Response Team, NASA GSFC

The satellite imagery of the flooding in Pakistan is insufficient to grasp how widespread the devastation is, unless you zoom out enough (which you can do at the MODIS page). The imagery focuses on the flood plain of the Indus River: it covers most of Sindh province and a good chunk of Baluchistan. See The Washington Post’s maps for perspective. The Earth Observatory and MODIS pages, as well as the CNN article, have before/after image sliders: Earth Observatory compares the situation to three weeks ago, the other two to last year.

Update, 1 Sept:

ESA

The ESA has released the above image based on Copernicus Sentinel-1 data. More than a third of Pakistan is now under water.

Update, 3 Sept: The Guardian has more before/after imagery.

Mapping ‘The Spear Cuts Through Water’

Map from Simon Jimenez's The Spear Cuts Through Water
Chris Panatier

At Tor.com, Simon Jimenez talks about the map that accompanies his upcoming epic fantasy novel, The Spear Cuts Through Water. It’s not a map that follows the default fantasy map design by any stretch. He starts with the map, drawn by Chris Panatier.

There is no compass rose for orientation, no place names, no handy scale for distance ratios so that a reader might be able to tell how far one location is from another. There are barely even locations. Even the perspective is different—not a bird’s eye view, but something closer and more intimate, for a better view of the imagery that leans away from literalism and more towards the metaphorical, and the eerie.

Because of all of these choices, it is not a particularly useful map. One would be hard-pressed to use it as a reference tool as they journeyed with the characters through the book. This is by intention.

Jimenez explains how he grappled with the idea of mapping, and of fantasy mapping, when decided whether, and how, to include a map in his book. Very insightful and worth reading (and I’m not just saying that because he name-checks me at the end).

Remotely Operated Vessel Maps Tonga Caldera

Aerial view of the Hunga-Tonga Hunga-Ha’apai (HT-HH) volcano, showing new multibeam depth data overlaid on a satellite image of the islands (deep depths in blue, shallow depths in red).
SEA-KIT/NIWA-Nippon Foundation TESMaP survey team

As part of the Tonga Eruption Seabed Mapping Project, a robotic vessel has conducted a bathymetric survey of the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha‘apai volcano’s underwater caldera. Said volcano, you will recall, erupted spectacularly last January. The 12-metre vessel, USV Maxlimer, was controlled remotely from 16,000 km away, and carried sensors to measure the state of the seabed, temperature, salinity, turbidity, dissolved oxygen and chemical plumes. More at the press release. BBC News coverage.

Previously: The Rise and Fall of Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha‘apai; Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha‘apai, Before and After; How Satellites Revealed the Hunga-Tonga Hunga-Ha‘apai Eruption.

Mapping Drought in Europe

European Drought Observatory (screenshot)

The European Drought Observatory maps drought the way meteorologists map extreme weather: it maps watches, warnings and alerts based on a lack of rainfall, a lack of soil moisture, and stress to vegetation following a lack of moisture, respectively. In addition to the online map viewer, there is a comparison tool and a way to generate your own maps from the data, among other tools. As of early August, the Observatory says, 47 percent of EU territory is facing warning conditions, 17 percent in alert conditions. It’s been a bad summer. [Maps Mania]

Mapping the Watery Past of Mars

ESA

A new map of Mars reveals the abundance of aqueous minerals—clays and salts that form in the presence of water—that were created during the planet’s distant watery past. “The big surprise is the prevalence of these minerals. Ten years ago, planetary scientists knew of around 1000 outcrops on Mars. This made them interesting as geological oddities. However, the new map has reversed the situation, revealing hundreds of thousands of such areas in the oldest parts of the planet.”