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Nine beautiful maps that will change how you see the world


Cheryl Santa Maria
Digital Reporter

Monday, January 13, 2014, 2:24 -

If you like maps you're in luck, because what you're about to read is a visual learner's dream.

Here are nine beautiful maps that will provide you with some new insight on our incredible planet.

1. HISTORICAL HURRICANE TRACKS

Check out NOAA's Historical Hurricane Tracks, a free online tool that showcases more than 150 years of hurricane landfalls, through to 2012.


RELATED: The eight deadliest Atlantic hurricanes


Users are invited to pan across the map and search for individual storms.

All the big hurricanes are logged - from Katrina, which barreled through the Bahamas and the U.S. Gulf Coast costing $108 billion in damage, to Sandy, the 2012 superstorm that virtually shut down Manhattan in October, 2012.

The landfall tracks are colour-coded, based on the severity of the storm.

2. THE POLAR VORTEX: A TEMPERATURE MAP OF CANADA AND THE U.S. USING DATA FROM JANUARY 12, 2014

You can view a high-res version of this map at the image-sharing site Imgur. It was uploaded to the site by Reddit user Slab_Heap_Pout on Sunday.

The polar vortex became the buzz word of the season earlier this month after frigid temperatures settled in across North America.


SEE ALSO: Satellite and Radar Maps


But "the polar vortex is by no means something new or something rare," Weather Network meteorologist Dayna Vettese writes.

"It is a permanent atmospheric feature all year round existing at the North and South Poles. They are a circulation (on a planetary scale, not a mesoscale like a tornado, so it’s big) and are located from the middle troposphere to the stratosphere so it is an upper level phenomenon. The polar vortices are strongly reliant on large scale temperature gradients so in the winter, they are at their strongest due to the temperature gradient between the equatorial regions and the poles."

3. NOAA TRACKS THE FREQUENCY OF CYCLONES

High above the oceans, NOAA's GOES satellite tirelessly tracks cyclones.

This "eye in the sky" scans the planet every few minutes, giving meteorologists an unprecedented ability to track severe weather.

NOAA's National Climatic Data Center has taken this information and used it to assemble track data for 11,967 tropical cyclones spanning from 1842 to 2012 into a database.

The results are summed up in this stunning map.

Pre-satellite data was garnered from ship reports, meaning that some large 19th century storms were probably overlooked.

You can learn more about historical hurricane tracks on the NOAA website.

4. OUR 'BREATHING' EARTH

This incredible, real-time simulation by David Bleja tracks CO2 emissions on a global scale, as well as birth and death rates.


RELATED READ: World Health Organization declares air pollution a carcinogen


A variety of sources are compiled to create this simulation, and while Bleja admits the scale of the project makes it difficult for the information to be "100% accurate", he believes that the CO2 emission levels depicted are much more likely to be too low than they are to be too high."

NEXT PAGE: FIND OUT HOW MANY TIMES COULD CANADA'S POPULATION FIT INSIDE THE U.S. AND THE HOT SPOTS FOR LIGHTNING STRIKES

5. GLOBAL INTERNET USAGE, BASED ON TIME

Here's another map that could keep you busy for hours.

While not updated in real-time, Cara Botnet's animated gif of global Internet usage by time of day provides a fascinating character profile of world wide web users.

Watch online usage explode as the 'sun' glides across the planet.

6. HOW MANY TIMES COULD CANADA FIT INSIDE THE U.S.?

We all know that the U.S. has a much larger population than Canada, but size can be difficult to visualize. Here's a neat graphic that has been making the rounds on the Internet. We're still trying to nail down the creator of this map, which was first spotted at isomorphismes.

7. LIGHTNING STRIKES

It looks like lightning does strike the same place twice.


CHECK IT OUT: Lightning alerts


8. GLOBAL POPULATION DENSITY


Humans have conquered the planet, but we tend to stick close to one another judging by this map by Columbia University's Earth Institute.


THE WEATHER NETWORK HAS INCREDIBLE MAPS TOO! Check out our satellite and radar map.


9. EARTHQUAKES SINCE 1898 BY MAGNITUDE

John M. Nelson's  map of earthquakes by magnitude represents the best of data visualization: It covers a broad time span, it's easy to decipher and it paints a sobering picture about the sheer power of Mother Nature.

Data was compiled from the Northern California Earthquake Data Center and NASA satellite imagery.


RELATED: Island nation somberly marks fourth anniversary of earthquake that killed more than 300,000 people


NASA/USGS data paints global picture of forest losses and gains since 2000
NOAA launches website containing 'millions' of pieces of data relating to the during BP oil spill
Visualizing wind patterns
Watch the Earth 'breathe'

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