When I was in the Berkshires, one thing I noticed was signs about bears. Bear crossing. Don’t feed the bears. Be beary careful. Okay, not so much the latter. But it was nonetheless odd to a city dweller like myself where I just need to be wary of giant rats.
Less than a month later, I read an article in the Boston Globe about how the black bear population in Massachusetts is expanding from the western and central portions of the state to those in the east.
The graphic in the article actually comes from the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife, so credit goes to them, but it shows the existing range and the black bears’ new range.
I understand the inclusion of the highways in red, green, and black, but I wish they had some even simple labelling. In the article they mention a few highways, but my familiarity with the highway system in Massachusetts is not great. Also, because the designer used thin black lines to demarcate the towns, one could think that the black lines, especially out west, represent counties or other larger political geography units.
Credit for the piece goes to the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife.
I spent the better part of the last two weeks travelling and hanging out in the Berkshires and Connecticut River Valley in western Massachusetts. One of the coolest experiences was driving up the automobile route for Mt Greylock, the tallest point in Massachusetts.
Most of the drive itself was just regularly spectacular as the mid-morning sunlight hit the trees above the road, creating a warm yellow-orange light that bathed the route. But maybe about halfway or two-thirds of the way up, I rounded a bend in the road and came upon a clearing—and convenient pullover. The scene elicited an audible swear and not surprisingly I stopped the car to enjoy the scenery and take some photos.
Whilst there, I also noticed a small sign that, among other things diagrammed the cross section of Mt Greylock and points to the east and west. And I figured that would be a good way to start the week.
The sign uses an old map to illustrate the different rock layers that define the mountain. Marble, which is a soft rock, erodes during glaciation whereas schist, a hard rock, does not. And during the recent ice ages, when glaciers covered the area, most of the marble areas of the mountain range were eroded away, leaving just the sharp stony peaks of schist.
Credit for the piece goes to the US Geological Survey designers, ca. 1894.
Depending upon where you live, autumn presents us with a spectacular tapestry of colour with bright piercing yellows, soft warm oranges, and attention-grabbing reds all situated among still verdant green grasses and calming blue skies. But this technicolour dreamcoat that drapes the landscape disappears after only a few weeks. For those that chase the colour, the leaf peepers, they need to know the best time to travel.
For that we have this interactive timeline/map from SmokyMountains.com. It’s pretty simple as far as graphics go. We have a choropleth map coloured by a county’s status from no change to past peak, when the colours begin to dull.
The map itself is not interactive, i.e. you cannot mouse over a county and get a label or some additional information. But the time slider at the bottom does allow you to see the progression of colour throughout the autumn.
Normally, as my longtime readers know, I am not a fan of the traffic light colour palette: green to red. Here, however, it makes sense in the context of changing colours of plant leaves. No, not all trees turn red, some stay yellow. Broadly speaking, though, the colours make sense.
And to that end, the designers of the map chose their colours well, because this map avoids the issues we often see—or don’t—when it comes to red-green colour blindness. This being the reason why a default of green-to-red is a poor choice. Their green is distinct from the red, as these two proof colour screenshots show (thanks to Photoshop’s Proof Colour option).
The choice isn’t great, don’t get me wrong. You can see how the green still falls into the shades of red. A blue would be a better choice. (And that’s why I always counsel people to stick to a blue-to-red palette.) Compare, for example, what happens when I add a massive Borg cube of blue to the area of Texas and Oklahoma—not that you have a choice, because resistance is futile.
Here the blue is very clearly different than the reds. That makes it very distinct, but again, I think in the context of a map about the changing of leaf colours from greens to reds, a green-to-red map is appropriate. But only if, as these designers have, the colours are chosen so that the green can be distinguished from the reds.
As I always say, know the rules—don’t use red-to-green as one—so that you know the few instances when and where it’s appropriate to break them. As this map is.
Credit for the piece goes to the SmokyMountains.com
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
But mostly, I’m still in Canada.
Credit for the piece goes to the Globe and Mail graphics department.
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.
Credit for the piece goes to the graphics team behind Risky Business.
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.
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.