Environment/weather Archive:


In: Environment/weather

29 Mar 2012

Climate Central lets you zoom in on a map and visualize how much of our coast will be underwater if sea levels rise. You can adjust how much increase there is using the slider. Some experts say we should expect 2-7 feet higher by end of century. (via)


Stephen Von Worley created this beautiful visualization of 50 years of San Francisco rainfall. I’d love to see an interactive version of this for any city – as an addition to Weatherspark perhaps?


The World Economic Forum always has some interesting visualizations and info-videos.

Global Risk Map:


Interactive Risk Explorer (be sure to play with the menu tabs on the right):


The USDA has upgraded it’s plant hardiness map, which is based on average annual extreme temperatures. Horticulturists and gardeners use the maps as a gauge of what types of plants to grow. Some people think the new data indicates that temperatures are rising, and having visible effects on growing seasons and plant diversity. The USDA is (probably wisely) dodging the climate change aspects, pointing out that the methodologies used weren’t quite the same in the two versions. If you want to have fun, do a google news search for “plant hardiness” and see how different media coverage is of this (Chicago Sun Times, ThinkProgress, MSNBC).

The Washington Post used an interactive slider design on their map to let you flip between views of 1990 and 2012:

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You can view static and interactive versions at the USDA site, as well as download the dataset.


A new high resolution (down to 30m) map of US forests created using a compilation of data from “space-based radar, satellite sensors, computer models, and a massive amount of ground-based data.” There’s also a detailed article about the project and the decisions that went into it. I guess I knew the midwest was sparse – but I didn’t think it was THAT sparse.


Who has some of the coolest data around? NASA, of course. While you can dig around their numerous websites looking for gems, they have pulled together many of their best work into a free iPad App. The quality of the visualizations is incredible, and most of them are well annotated/narrated. They add 8-10 new visualizations each month.

Here are stills from some of the videos:

Wind currents:


Ocean currents:


Snow cover:


Carbon absorption:


Dark sky is an interesting short-term (<60 minutes) weather app. The creators interpolate weather radar information and present it based on your GPS location in the form of a smooth animation, along with a precipitation estimate. So instead of knowing that there’s a 50% chance of rain in your region that afternoon (typical weather forecast), you’d know if there was a very likely chance of rain falling on your head in the next 15 minutes. The app is currently in development, and there’s a Kickstarter campaign if you want to contribute to the cause.  There’s also a blog post that explains in more detail how they are using the standard NOAA data.


Statistics indicate that more people are born in the fall (in the USA anyway), with the quick explanation being that we have more sex during the winter holidays (9 months earlier).  GE takes a cut at this notion by comparing average temperatures and deviations from the national average birthrate. Statistically, however, using annual data adds enough noise in my mind to make drawing conclusions kind of tough. Anyone want to dig up the monthly data (even for one state) and do a lagged scatter plot? Hmmmm… how would you seasonally adjust this data?


(one minor complaint: the 3d scale is interesting for comparing states, but you can’t tell what the values are for any of them because of the angle)

Most of the US is quite warm today. This map is from NOAA which maintains the Environmental Visualization Laboratory, which is chock full of cool maps and data and worth exploring.



a study conducted in 1983 by the Rural Advancement Foundation International … compared USDA listings of seed varieties sold by commercial U.S. seed houses in 1903 with those in the U.S. National Seed Storage Laboratory in 1983. The survey, which included 66 crops, found that about 93 percent of the varieties had gone extinct.


A map of every FEMA emergency since 1953 – you can also filter by disaster type.


Here’s a slightly more detailed one, for 1964-2010.


Update: and here’s a version from the NYT:

Carstations.com lets you search for local charging sites, add new ones, and read reviews/comments about each.  Personally, I was surprised there were this many out there.