Intermittent wanderings exploring elements of geography and cartography.
This is a news story that seems to have captured the attention of the world as the media focuses on a wayward soccer team and coach. As a brief recap, a soccer team decided to explore a cave system in Thailand and got trapped in the cave system by rising water levels that cut off tunnel access. Divers from Thailand and other countries entered the cave system in attempts to first locate the missing people, and then to attempt to lead them out to safety. After surviving in the cave for over a week, 8 of the trapped people have been successfully rescued (as of the time I write this post).
Caving is a dangerous activity. Diving is a dangerous activity. Cave diving can be a very seriously dangerous activity. I have experience with caving and SCUBA diving, but I've never entered a water-filled or submerged cave. I have the utmost respect for the people involved in the rescue operation.
This morning, I discovered a news story by The New York Times that included a collection of visualizations of the cave system. The maps and graphics at that link can be found by clicking here.
You may have not heard of this movement, but there are people out there who work toward keeping the night sky's astronomical features in view... a Dark Sky Reserve has been created in Idaho for this purpose. Light pollution from heavily-developed areas blanks out the night sky, obscuring our view of planets, meteorites, stars, and even the Milky Way. Dark Sky Reserves are locations and areas where light pollution is restricted, allowing residents and visitors to view stellar objects instead of diffuse light.
National Geographic shares a glimpse into some interesting maps of tourism and locals. Geotagged photos and images provide a neat way to map local/nolocal experiences with the same geographic space. Sometimes, the masses of tourists can be simply too much to bear (or more often than not?) and locals who live the spaces that tourists visit engage in avoidance behaviors. Geotagged and uploaded imagery can be used to map how geographic space is utilized by two sometimes very different groups of people.
Climate studies literally cover a lot of ground, and climate being what it is means that new discoveries are always looming on the horizon... or in the middle of North America. The 100th meridian, an invisible line that extends from the North Pole to the South Pole (otherwise known as a line of longitude) has long been recognized as a climatic zone or ecotone where the arid western lands transition into a wetter lands to the east. This climatic pattern has broad implications for surface water management and groundwater management, especially since the demarcation line is migrating. Jump to the link here for more information.
Recently, a train derailed south of Seattle on a new stretch of tracks that were intended to reduce commute times. The train was reportedly traveling at speeds of up to 50 miles per hour over the speed limit for that segment of rail line. An article by the Washington Post contains explanatory imagery and graphics of the train derailment. That information can be found by clicking here. The derailment closed southbound Interstate 5 for several days as first rescuers freed people from the derailed cars, then the NTSB conducted an on-site investigation, and finally the wreckage was cleared and taken away.
A recent news item is that President Trump decided not to continue the process of entering into the so-called Paris Accords, which is a global-scale agreement about carbon emissions between the nations of the world. Carbon dioxide is a known greenhouse gas with known physical properties, and the more of that particular gas that is in the atmosphere (modern or historic atmospheres), the warmer the planet becomes. It is not the only greenhouse gas, and it is not the most efficient greenhouse gas in terms of delaying the transmission of heat from the atmosphere to outer space. It is definitely a byproduct of human economies, and as such, a gas over which we (collectively) have some measure of control... namely, how much we produce and release into the atmosphere each year.
Here is a New York Times article that has two animated maps. One map shows how many days are predicted to be above 95 degrees Fahrenheit if the Paris Accords are fully implemented and carbon emissions are restricted as provided under the Accords. The other map shows predicted distributions of the number of days above 95 degrees Fahrenheit if there is no such action taken; no carbon restrictions as provided by the Accords. It's an interesting look into possible futures.
More than 3,000 Indigenous communities in Canada have been added to Google Maps - and it's about time, Indigenous people say... click here for the original article. In Canada, indigenous people are also known as the "First Nations", acknowledging that they were in what is now modern Canada before Europeans and those from other continents encountered North America.
An NPR report on a special map of Native American tribes using their own language and names (toponyms) to show the distribution of Native peoples across North America. In the United States, indigenous peoples are those who are also known as American Indians, Alaska Natives, and Hawaiian Natives and Pacific Islanders. Related to the previous map is one created for Alaskan tribes and indigenous peoples.
The study of place names is a cross between historical, linguistic, geographic, political, and religious or cultural interests. Who gets to name a geographic location or landscape feature? Does the name have any cultural or historical significance? Has it changed over time?
On August 21 of this year, a Total Solar Eclipse will occur and transit across North America. The path of the total solar eclipse will intersect the state of Idaho, conveniently, on the first day of classes for Fall Semester. If you are lucky enough to be located somewhere along the path of the eclipse, take advantage of this opportunity to experience the phenomenon. Here are links to a couple of resources, the Eclipse Megamovie site (check out its Simulator page) and the official NASA website for Total Solar Eclipse 2017 (the Resources page has a lot of printable maps and other neat stuff).
An endangered species here in the Pacific Northwest is the mountain or alpine caribou. The small remnant herds of these animals migrate between areas in Canada and the United States, although they are more often perceived as a far northern species in both countries. This article from the New York Times details the struggles of this species to survive against the odds. A conservation group also maintains this web page as a collection of informational resources on the mountain caribou.
For people who recall the tragic landslide that occurred several years ago, the Seattle Times has published an article that revisits the science and social impacts of that fateful day. To read this piece, click through the link. If you are unfamiliar with the landslide, its effects, and the scientific efforts that have gone into analyzing and explaining it, visit this website that curates a number of articles on the topic.