Category: Data visualization/Infographics

This map lets you fly along the path of a drop of water from any place in the U.S.

Read the full story in Fast Company.

Click on any spot or enter an address, and it will show where the water is likely to flow. Good for both learning how pollution and plastic spreads, but also for an aerial visual ride of the country’s waterways.

Map data is shockingly easy to fake, from ‘Pokémon Go’ to satellite images

Read the full story in Fast Company.

Zhao and colleagues from Oregon State University and Binghamton University began to look into satellite imagery, a major source of geospatial data used in applications ranging from climate observation to global shipping. In a recent paper, they explore the potential—and, as they show, the very real threat—of people using artificial intelligence to create convincing but fabricated satellite imagery. Like AI systems that have been created to generate realistic faces or malicious pornographers who’ve used cruder systems to make fake explicit videos using the likenesses of celebrities, Zhao and his colleagues have shown that deepfake satellite imagery can also be made.

Deepfake satellite imagery poses a not-so-distant threat, warn geographers

Read the full story at The Verge.

When we think of deepfakes, we tend to imagine AI-generated people. This might be lighthearted, like a deepfake Tom Cruise, or malicious, like nonconsensual pornography. What we don’t imagine is deepfake geography: AI-generated images of cityscapes and countryside. But that’s exactly what some researchers are worried about.

Specifically, geographers are concerned about the spread of fake, AI-generated satellite imagery. Such pictures could mislead in a variety of ways. They could be used to create hoaxes about wildfires or floods, or to discredit stories based on real satellite imagery. (Think about reports on China’s Uyghur detention camps that gained credence from satellite evidence. As geographic deepfakes become widespread, the Chinese government can claim those images are fake, too.) Deepfake geography might even be a national security issue, as geopolitical adversaries use fake satellite imagery to mislead foes.

The new U.S. Climate Normals are here. What do they tell us about climate change?

Annual U.S. temperature compared to the 20th-century average for each U.S. Climate Normals period from 1901-1930 (upper left) to 1991-2020 (lower right).
Annual U.S. temperature compared to the 20th-century average for each U.S. Climate Normals period from 1901-1930 (upper left) to 1991-2020 (lower right). (NOAA NCEI)

Read the full story from NOAA. See also the story in the Washington Post.

Every 10 years, NOAA releases an analysis of U.S. weather of the past three decades that calculates average values for temperature, rainfall and other conditions.  

That time has come again.

Known as the U.S. Climate Normals, these 30-year averages — now spanning 1991-2020 — represent the new “normals” of our changing climate. They are calculated using climate observations collected at local weather stations across the country and are corrected for bad or missing values and any changes to the weather station over time before becoming part of the climate record.

Simply stated: The Normals are the basis for judging how daily, monthly and annual climate conditions compare to what’s normal for a specific location in today’s climate. 

New IU tool maps green infrastructure in Hoosier communities

Read the full story in the Indiana Environment Reporter.

Indiana Green City Mapper allows residents and city planners to see maps of urban green infrastructure and other climate change-related data to maximize resilience benefits.

UMass Amherst Political Economy Research Institute launches new tool to track air pollution at every U.S. school

Read the full story from the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

Researchers at the University of Massachusetts Amherst Political Economy Research Institute (PERI) today unveiled a new interactive, web-based tool for tracking industrial toxic air pollution at every school in the United States. The tool, Air Toxics at School, reports toxicity-weighted concentrations of pollutants to show individual chronic human health risk from industrial toxic air pollutants at the schools’ locations.

NOAA Urban Heat Island Mapping Campaign

The National Integrated Heat Health Information Center (NIHHIC), a partnership between the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, is an integrated system that:

  • builds understanding of the problem of extreme heat,
  • defines demand for climate services that enhance societal resilience,
  • develops science-based products and services from a sustained climate science research program, and
  • improves capacity, communication, and societal understanding of the problem in order to reduce morbidity and mortality due to extreme heat. 

One of NIHHIC’s projects is urban heat island mapping. These maps and their underlying data are available on the NIHHIC website.

Online map showcases construction-related careers in booming green sector

Read the full story at Utility Dive.

A group of energy-efficiency organizations has launched an online tool designed to help U.S. workers research career paths in the booming field of green building.

The interactive Green Buildings Career Map highlights career opportunities in building energy efficiency, with 55 jobs across four industry sectors, as well as over 300 potential advancement routes. It was developed with input from industry subject matter experts to help interested candidates learn about quality jobs related to energy efficiency in buildings.

The initiative, supported by a grant from the U.S. Department of Energy Building Technologies Office, was designed to foster a robust and inclusive pipeline of qualified workers to meet employer demand, said Larry Sherwood, CEO of the Interstate Renewable Energy Council, one of its developers. “This is crucially important to sustaining the rapid growth of this important industry and ensuring the benefits of employment in this sector are accessible to more people,” he said in a release.

This clever app turns your spreadsheets into slick interactive web tools

Read the full story at Fast Company.

Grid gives new life to Excel and Google Sheets, without making you give up the apps you know. It even has the support of one of the spreadsheet’s inventors.

Lead in Private Wells

View the full story map.

To prevent public health crises that result from widespread lead contamination in drinking water, community water supplies are required to closely monitor their drinking water quality. 

Lead (Pb) exposure is associated with many health effects, like neurodevelopmental impairment, distractibility, impulsivity, shortened attention span, and reduced IQ. The American Academy of Pediatrics states that no level of Pb exposure is safe, so Pb exposure in children should be prevented. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s lead and copper rule sets an action level of 15 micrograms per liter (μg/L), or parts per billion, for lead at customer taps for public water supplies. (If more than 10% of customer taps sampled exceed this value, additional actions to control corrosion must be undertaken.)

However, the state of Illinois does not regulate domestic wells for water quality. Studies in several other states suggested that water-borne lead might be a concern in homes with domestic wells, so researchers at the Illinois State Water, the University of Illinois at Chicago, and Northern Illinois University, designed a study to learn if this was also true in Illinois.

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