Leaf Peeping

Autumn arrived this week in Philadelphia. And with the cooler weather came blustery winds blowing yellowing leaves from city trees. The yellows and reds of trees beneath blue skies makes for some great photography. But what is really going on? Thankfully, the Washington Post published an article exploring where and why the leaves change colour (or don’t).

The star of the piece is the large map of the United States that shows the dominant colours of forests.

All the colours
All the colours

Little illustrations and annotations dot the map showing how particular trees (whose leaf shapes are shown) turn particular colours. The text in the piece elaborates on that and explains what is going on with pigments in the leaves. It adds to that how weather can impact the colour change.

Later on in the piece, a select set of photos for specific locations show at a more micro-level, how and where leaf colours change.

Overall, a solid piece for those of you who enjoy leaf peeping to read before this weekend.

Credit for the piece goes to Lauren Tierney and Joe Fox.

Man vs. Shark vs. Marlin vs. Every Other Animal

About two weeks ago, Michael Phelps raced a shark. What will they not do for television ratings? The Economist took the basic premise and then had an insightful piece about the speed of animals compared to their size. The whole notion of animals get faster the larger they get. Well, to a point, the Economist found. The graphic is a bit complex, perhaps, in their use of a log scale on both the x and y axes. But they have cute little illustrations of everyone’s favourite animals. So it all balances out in the end.

Man vs. Nature
Man vs. Nature

But there is real science in the piece and it is worth a quick read.

Credit for the piece goes to the Economist graphics department.

Drought Severity

Not here in Chicago at least. But across swaths of the Southwest, people are experiencing droughts. But the New York Times is on it, with a tracker updated weekly.

Nary a drop to spare in Southwest.
Nary a drop to spare in Southwest.

Credit for the piece goes to Mike Bostock and Kevin Quealy.

Ringwoodlite

Your author is still in Canada. So here’s a graphic from the Globe and Mail that explains the process by which ringwoodite is formed. Recent research shows that the water contained within the mineral makes the mantle beneath the surface of the Earth contain more water than all the world’s oceans.

Ringwoodite
Ringwoodite

But mostly, I’m still in Canada.

Credit for the piece goes to the Globe and Mail graphics department.

Impact of Climate Change

As someone who likes cooler weather, climate change sucks. Because that generally means warmer weather. Yes, yes, I know it means equally good chances for extreme cold temperatures and in general more extreme weather, but mostly I hate hot weather. So a new report by Risky Business Project, a group led by former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg, Henry Paulson, and Tom Steyer, looks to quantify some of the impact.

But in short, nothing good is going to happen. And basically, I will never move to the South.

Impact of climate change
Impact of climate change

Credit for the piece goes to the graphics team behind Risky Business.

What About the Bees?

Last week President Obama announced a task force to investigate the disappearance of honeybees. While that might sound like something out of a Doctor Who episode—it is—the problem is real since bees pollinate the flowers that become the fruit and vegetables we consume. The Washington Post took a look at what might be responsible for the decline in bees through this illustrated graphic.

Different reasons for honeybee population collapse
Different reasons for honeybee population collapse

Credit for the piece goes to Patterson Clark.

Ivory Poaching

The South China Morning Post had a fantastic infographic detailing the hunting of elephants for their ivory. Despite bans to make such hunting illegal, the problem continues and is worsening because of the Asian trade in ivory.

Cropping of the infographic
Cropping of the infographic

Credit for the piece goes to Adolfo Arranz.

The Flying V

We all know of the Flying V, the great hockey plan developed in the 1990s—wait, no, wrong one. I meant to talk about birds flying in formation. Because science is finally allowing us to understand the mechanisms of how and why birds fly in these tight, v-shaped formations. In a BBC article reporting on the most recent findings, the graphics team included a diagram showing just how formation flying works.

How the Flying V works
How the Flying V works

Credit for the piece goes to the BBC graphics department.