Tag Archives: geography

MH370 Found?

Last night (Central Daylight time), news broke that what might be part of the wing of a Boeing 777, which is the same type of aircraft as the missing Malaysian Flight 370, washed up on the French island of Réunion in the Indian Ocean. The Guardian was following the story last night and one of their reporters used a ocean currents simulator to see if wreckage from a crash off the coast of Perth (western Australia) could make it to Réunion.

Possible debris currents

Possible debris currents

Yep, it can.

Credit for the piece goes to adrift.org.au.

Your Average Daily Sunshine

(Hint, it’s not me.)

I was talking with someone the other day about how I dislike warm weather. Give me nice, cool, crisp weather any day of the week. And also how I am okay without sunshine—a cool, misty, grey day is lovely. Much of weather, of course, is determined by sunlight, energy, hitting the Earth. Well, just a few weeks ago the Washington Post published a piece looking at daily sunlight. At the end of the piece it has a nice small multiple graphic too.

Average daily sunlight

Average daily sunlight

Credit for the piece goes to the Washington Post graphics department.

Water Level on Lake Michigan

Today’s a little piece for those of you who follow me from the Chicago area. It turns out that in the last 30 months, the water level of Lake Michigan has risen three feet. Despite what some people think, Lake Michigan is not an ocean—I have overheard conversations in my neighbourhood about people who went “swimming in the ocean today” and want to show them a map that points out the Atlantic is almost a thousand miles away—and is not under the same threat as the coast via melting icecaps. The Great Lakes are instead impacted by other regional and cyclical patterns, e.g. El Niño. This article by the Chicago Tribune makes use of this small but clear line chart in its discussion of those very factors.

Water levels for Lakes Michigan and Huron

Water levels for Lakes Michigan and Huron

Credit for the piece goes to the Chicago Tribune’s graphics department.

ISIS Throughout the World

ISIS is still a threat to the Middle East, evidenced by the US announcing yesterday that it is intensifying strikes against the quasi-state in both Syria and Iraq. But just where has ISIS spread? And are its attacks spreading? This New York Times piece looks at just those two questions. The first through an obvious map.

The geographic reach of ISIS at all points over time

The geographic reach of ISIS at all points over time

What the map does is show you where ISIS has attacked around the world over all time. So yes, it has global reach. But the map alone cannot show you if things are improving or getting worse. For that you need a visualisation type that can plot things over time. And as aforementioned, the piece includes that as well.

A spike in attacks this winter presaged a summer of terror

A spike in attacks this winter presaged a summer of terror

Unfortunately, it appears that yes, ISIS is attacking or at least attempting to attack more targets in more countries both within and without the Middle East and its declared provinces.

Credit for the piece goes to Karen Yourish, Derek Watkins, and Tom Giratikanon.

The Spellecy’s Wisconsin Land Grant

I have returned from my trip up north to Minnesota and Wisconsin. Unfortunately, from the research side it was not the most successful of trips. I did find some records, but none that answered any of the big questions I had. If anything, I now have far more questions. Most of the information I learned deals with the homesteaded land that John Spellecy received in 1888, at the young age of 70. It turns out by the time he was given the land by the US government, he had already made one contract to sell a portion of it. And so to make some semblance of it, I made this animation to show how the land grant disappeared over only a 12 year period.

How the Spellecy plot disappeared

How the Spellecy plot disappeared

For the curious, the background image is a digitisation of the US government’s original land survey. The A.160 denotes 160 acres, the maximum allowed by a homestead claim.

Aquifers Around the World

It has rained quite a bit in the south the last couple of days, thanks to tropical weather systems. But, as some new data from NASA shows us, the world is running out of water. That is largely because we drain large underground water systems called aquifers faster than the natural environment replenishes them. The Washington Post has a small interactive map that looks at the world’s largest aquifers and respective trend towards either being recharged or drained.

Aquifers are being drained around the world

Aquifers are being drained around the world

Credit for the piece goes to Todd Frankel.

Native Languages of the World

Today’s post looks at an infographic from the South China Morning Post. The graphic in question looks at languages and how many speak them. Specifically, the graphic narrows the focus down to those native languages spoken by 50+ million people, of which there are 23 spoken by a combined 4.1 billion people out of the world’s 7.2 billion inhabitants.

Native language speakers

Native language speakers

Credit for the piece goes to Alberto Lucas López.

Sex, Drugs, and Rock Oil

North Dakota’s economy has been booming because of shale oil. Most of that economic growth has been centred on what was the small city of Williston, North Dakota. Economic growth often leads to population growth, however, and that can at times lead to growth in less than wholesome economic activities. The National Journal took a look at the population growth in the area and what has been happening concurrently in a few metrics of the less wholesome sectors of the economy, i.e. drugs and prostitution. Turns out, they are both up.

Population growth in North Dakota

Population growth in North Dakota

Credit for the piece goes to Clare Foran and Stephanie Stamm.

It’s Melting! It’s Melting!

Spring has finally arrived. And that means that far to your humble author’s north, the sea ice in the Arctic is beginning to recede from its annual maximum coverage. However, this year’s coverage was the smallest since satellite records began in 1979. The New York Times covers the story in a nice article with two big data pieces. The first is a really nice map—not shown—that looks at this year’s coverage compared to average extents.

The really nice part, however, is a line chart of historical ice coverage from 1979 through to the current date. While the piece is not interactive, the annotations in the graphic do a nice job explaining the different lines and outliers. Overall, a solid piece.

Annual cycle of Arctic ice coverage

Annual cycle of Arctic ice coverage

Credit for the piece goes to Derek Watkins.

Germanwings Flight 4U 9525

Yesterday an Airbus A320 operated by Germanwings, a subsidiary of Lufthansa, crashed in the French Alps with no survivors. This morning, I am showing the two best graphics I have come across thus far attempting to explain just what happened.

The first is from the New York Times. In a series of maps, it points out through satellite photography the roughness of the terrain and therefore the difficulty likely to be experienced by recovery crews. The final line chart plots the altitude of the flight, which fell from a cruising altitude of 38,000 feet to just over 6,000 feet in eight minutes. Overall, especially given the limited amount of information that we currently possess, not a bad piece.

The New York Times' explainer map

The New York Times’ explainer map

The second comes to us from the Washington Post. What I enjoy about this piece is that it combines the altitude chart with the map. This gives a bit context to the fact that despite being still 6,000 feet above sea level, the aircraft was in fact flying into the high mountains of the Alps.

The Washington Post's explainer map

The Washington Post’s explainer map

Credit for the New York Times piece goes to the New York Times graphics department. And credit for the Washington Post piece goes to Gene Thorp and Richard Johnson.