Tag Archives: map

2011 precipitation anomalies in USA

From US’s National Weather Service – big precipitation anomalies in US this past year.  The purple areas are extra wet, while the red areas are extra dry.

Precipitation anomalies in USA for 2011 in mm


“Normal” precipitation is derived from PRISM climate data, created at Oregon State University. The PRISM gridded climate maps are considered the most detailed, highest-quality spatial climate datasets currently available. The 30 year PRISM normal from 1971-2000 is used for precipitation analysis since 2004. Prior to 2004 the 30 year PRISM normal from 1961-1990 is used.” from http://water.weather.gov/precip/about.php

Mapping China and India’s diasporas

The Economist maps the largest twenty countries of China and India’s diasporas.

More Chinese people live outside mainland China than French people live in France, with some to be found in almost every country. Some 22m ethnic Indians are scattered across every continent. Diasporas have been a part of the world for millennia. But today their size (if migrants were a nation, they would be the world’s fifth-largest) and the ease of staying in touch with those at home are making them matter much more.

Mapping ecological impact of 2010 Amazonian drought

From NASA EOS Image of the Day:

Between July and September 2010, severe drought gripped the Amazon Basin. The Negro River, a tributary of the Amazon, reached its lowest level in 109 years of record-keeping, and uncontrolled fires spread a pall of smoke over the drying basin. But how did the drought affect the trees?

This image shows a possible answer. Made with vegetation “greenness” measurements from the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Terra satellite, the image shows vegetation conditions between July and September 2010 compared to average conditions for the same period between 2000 and 2009 (except for 2005, another drought year). The vegetation indices are measurements of the how much photosynthesis could be happening based on how much leafy vegetation the satellite sees. In 2010, the vegetation index recorded lower values than in previous years, an indication that trees under drought stress either produced fewer leaves or the chlorophyll content of leaves was lower, or both.

Mapping impact of snow and ice feedbacks on climate

NASA Earth Observatory Image of the day has some powerful figures created with data from a new paper by Mark Flanner and others Radiative forcing and albedo feedback from the Northern Hemisphere cryosphere between 1979 and 2008. in Nature Geoscience. They use satellite data to estimate how changes in snow and ice in the Northern Hemisphere have contributed to rising temperatures over the last 30 years. They found that these changes in albedo have warmed the planet more than expected from models.

NASA Earth Observatory writes:

The left image shows how much energy the Northern Hemisphere’s snow and ice—called the cryosphere—reflected on average between 1979 and 2008. Dark blue indicates more reflected energy, in Watts per square meter, and thus more cooling. The Greenland ice sheet reflects more energy than any other single location in the Northern Hemisphere. The second-largest contributor to cooling is the cap of sea ice over the Arctic Ocean.

The right image shows how the energy being reflected from the cryosphere has changed between 1979 and 2008. When snow and ice disappear, they are replaced by dark land or ocean, both of which absorb energy. The image shows that the Northern Hemisphere is absorbing more energy, particularly along the outer edges of the Arctic Ocean, where sea ice has disappeared, and in the mountains of Central Asia.

“On average, the Northern Hemisphere now absorbs about 100 PetaWatts more solar energy because of changes in snow and ice cover,” says Flanner. “To put it in perspective, 100 PetaWatts is seven-fold greater than all the energy humans use in a year.” Changes in the extent and timing of snow cover account for about half of the change, while melting sea ice accounts for the other half.

Flanner and his colleagues made both calculations by compiling field measurements and satellite observations from the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS), Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer, and Nimbus-7 and DMSP SSM/I passive microwave data. The analysis is the first calculation of how much the energy the entire cryosphere reflects. It is also the first observation of changes in reflected energy because of changes in the entire cryosphere.

Mapping the worlds rivers

Bernhard Lehner my geography colleague from Burnside Hall at McGill has recently released HydroSHEDS a new global map of the worlds rivers.  Maps based upon this data were featured in the March issue of National Geographic.

HydroSHEDS is:

a new hydrographic mapping product that provides river and watershed information for regional and global-scale applications in a consistent format. It offers a suite of geo-referenced data sets (vector and raster) at various scales, including river networks, watershed boundaries, drainage directions, and flow accumulations. HydroSHEDS is based on high-resolution elevation data obtained during a Space Shuttle flight for NASA’s Shuttle Radar Topography Mission (SRTM).

It can be downloaded from USGS at HydroSHEDS Data.

Aquatic Dead Zones

      I’ve published several links to global maps of coastal hypoxia. Now, NASA has produced a new map of global hypoxic zones, based on Diaz and Rosenberg’s . Spreading Dead Zones and Consequences for Marine Ecosystems. in Science, 321(5891), 926-929.  NASA’s EOS Image of the Day writes on  Aquatic Dead Zones.

      Red circles on this map show the location and size of many of our planet’s dead zones. Black dots show where dead zones have been observed, but their size is unknown.

      It’s no coincidence that dead zones occur downriver of places where human population density is high (darkest brown). Some of the fertilizer we apply to crops is washed into streams and rivers. Fertilizer-laden runoff triggers explosive planktonic algae growth in coastal areas. The algae die and rain down into deep waters, where their remains are like fertilizer for microbes. The microbes decompose the organic matter, using up the oxygen. Mass killing of fish and other sea life often results.

      Malaria, public health, and climate

      Peter Gething, from the malaria atlas project at Oxford, and others have a paper in Nature, Climate change and the global malaria recession (doi:10.1038/nature09098) that examines at changes in global malaria distribution.  While the world warmed in the 20th century, the distribution of malaria shrank.  From their examination of this change they argue that development and public health measures have much stronger impacts on malaria distribution than expected climate change.

      Change in P. falciparum malaria endemicity between 1900 and 2007. Negative values denote a reduction in endemicity, positive values an increase.

      From looking at these changes and their causes they find that:

      1) widespread claims that rising mean temperatures have already led to increases in worldwide malaria morbidity and mortality are largely at odds with observed decreasing global trends in both its endemicity and geographic extent.

      2) the proposed future effects of rising temperatures on endemicity are at least one order of magnitude smaller than changes observed since about 1900 and up to two orders of magnitude smaller than those that can be achieved by the effective scale-up of key control measures.

      Predictions of an intensification of malaria in a warmer world, based on extrapolated empirical relationships or biological mechanisms, must be set against a context of a century of warming that has seen marked global declines in the disease and a substantial weakening of the global correlation between malaria endemicity and climate.

      SciDev.net has a news article that includes some responses from critics of the study.

      Native language endangerment in BC

      Aboriginal languages in Canada are struggling to survive.  This is part of a global pattern.  About 3,000 of the world’s 6,000-7,000 languages are viewed to be endangered.  95% of languages are spoken by only 6% of the world’s people – 25% have less than 1000 speakers.

      The First Peoples’ Heritage Language and Culture Council (FPHLCC), a British Columbia crown corporation to assist B.C. First Nations in their efforts to revitalize their languages, arts and cultures, has a produced a report (pdf) on the Status of B.C. First Nations Languages, which finds native languages in BC (map of languages) are seriously endangered.

      Gitsenimx is the language with the most speakers  (1,219), all other have less than a thousand speakers, and only Tsilhqot’in and Dakelh have more than 500.

      The report states:

      • Fluent First Nations language speakers make up a small and shrinking minority of the B.C. First Nations population
      • Eight languages are severely endangered and twenty two are nearly extinct
      • Most fluent speakers are over 65
      • The majority of classroom teaching is insufficient to create enough new fluent speakers to revitalize languages.

      In the press release for the report Dr. Lorna Williams, Chair of the Board at the First Peoples’ Council and Canada Research Chair in Indigenous Knowledge and Learning at the University of Victoria explains:

      British Columbia is home to 60% of the indigenous languages in Canada as well as distinct language families not found anywhere else in the world. The cultural and linguistic diversity of B.C. is a priceless treasure for all of humanity and this report shows that more must be done to protect it. With this report, we now have concrete evidence of what we have known for some time: all First Nations languages in B.C. are in a critical state.

      I am encouraged by the many fantastic community-based language programs detailed in the report, but unfortunately, they are not enough to stem the loss. I sincerely hope this report is recognized as a call-to-action to save our languages before it is too late.

      Mapping segregation and integration

      On radicalcartography Bill Rankin has posted some interesting and pretty maps of urban segregation in The cartography of segregation.

      Excerpt from CHICAGO BOUNDARIES Bill Rankin, 2009 (click on image to see full high resolution version)

      He writes:

      Nearly every U.S. city is radically (and disturbingly) segregated, with stark divides of race, ethnicity, and class. I’ve been playing with various ways to show these divisions, using graphics which are equally evocative, provocative, and rigorous. I’ve posted two new projects, showing two possibilities: one for Chicago, and another for New York.

      In both projects I’m reacting in part against maps which show ethnic areas using solid homogeneous colors, often highlighting only the majority group — such as this Wikipedia map of Bosnia and Herzegovina, or this New York Times map of Pashtuns in the Sulaiman Mountains. Not only do these maps fail to show local diversity or ethnic overlaps, but they visually reinforce the all-or-nothing logic of national territorial statehood that made the conflicts in question so intractable in the first place. These cases are crying out for new forms of mapping — mapping which could directly provoke new ways of thinking. (In other words, radical cartography to the rescue!)

      Ecological memory of Amazonian agriculture

      I just wrote this note on Faculty of 1000 on the paper (doi:10.1073/pnas.0908925107) I mentioned the other day:

      Pre-Columbian agricultural landscapes, ecosystem engineers, and self-organized patchiness in Amazonia
      McKey D, Rostain S, Iriarte J, Glaser B, Birk JJ, Holst I, Renard D
      Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 2010 Apr 12  [related articles]

      This fascinating study describes how ecological engineers (such as ants, termites, and earthworms) maintained a newly described pre-Columbian agricultural landscape. The authors describe sites along the Guianan coastal plain (in Guyana, Suriname, and French Guiana) where pre-Columbian farmers constructed raised fields in flat, marshy locations.

      The paper is particularly interesting because it combines new archaeological evidence in favour of the relatively new, and somewhat controversial, idea of a fairly densely settled pre-Columbian Amazonia with an ecological analysis of i) how spatial self-organization of ecosystems was likely used by pre-Columbian agriculturalists to enhance the yield and resilience of their agriculture system and ii) how these same processes have preserved aspects of the agricultural system during about five centuries of abandonment. This study is also interesting for its demonstration of how ecological memory can maintain patterns produced by past disturbance (whether natural or human), and in its hints of how different types of agriculture that work with biodiversity could possibly be reinvented today.

      Some photos from the supplementary info of the paper:

      Pre-Columbian raised fields in the Guianas. (A–D) Pre-Columbian raised fields in coastal French Guiana are located in flooded depressions, in flat savannas, along sandy ridges, or in talwegs. (A) Piliwa, on the left bank of the Mana River in extreme western French Guiana. (B) Corossony, on the left bank of the Sinnamary River. (C) K-VIII, west of the city of Kourou, near the Bois Diable site. (D) Maillard, between the town of Macouria and Cayenne Island.

      (E) Map of raised-field complexes along coastal Amazonia from eastern Guyana to near Cayenne in French Guiana.