Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Yosemite National Park, California

On August 17th, a hunter's illegal fire went out of control and began burning through the area outside of Yosemite Valley.  As of the most recent update from InciWeb (October 18, 2013), the total area burned was at 1040 sq kilometers (402 sq miles) and the fire was 95% contained.  The total damage accumulated so far is over 127 million USD. This is over two months after the fire began. There were a few closures around Yosemite National Park but most of the Park was able to remain open.

Between drought, heat, and forest service budget cuts, this fire happened at a pretty bad time.  NASA's Earth Observatory followed the event through the Suomi research satellite and provided the images that I have produced into gif format below.

The following gif shows August 16, 2013 through September 3, 2013.  The green border near the center is the Yosemite National Park boundary:

The first week of the fire showed the greatest expansion.

Video of the fire from Yosemite NP's Youtube page:

You can find it yourself on Google Earth using these coords:     37°50' N 120°06' W  

More info from sources referenced: Wikipedia, InciWeb, Huffington Post, Earth Observatory

Check back in two weeks to explore a Russian Volcano!

Saturday, October 19, 2013

SPECIAL BLOG: Fun With Geographic Orientation

If you’ve ever been to an Outback Steakhouse you’ve probably seen an upside-down map of the world somewhere near the entrance of the building.  Outside of Outback Steakhouse, most maps you will ever see will have north at the top, south at the bottom, east to the right, and west to the left.  If you pull up any quadrangle map from the USGS, you’ll find it oriented north.  If you open Google Earth, the North Pole will be at the top of the screen.  If a GIS student turns in a map with West at the top of the page, he probably fails his assignment.  Whether they’re official or unspoken, the rules dictate that we orient our maps north.

Until recently, if you had wanted to see a map oriented in any way other than north, you could have rotated it, but you would have ended up with something that looked like this:

Img Credits:

With the map labels oriented north as well, our minds just see a sideways map and we try to tilt our heads or adjust the image in our brains.  However, with some digital applications, we can rotate a map to any direction and see the map labels oriented to that degree.  This makes the text readable but the map itself will look wildly foreign.

Texas oriented to the south:

Instead of wearing Oklahoma like a hat, Texas now sits on Oklahoma and uses New Mexico as a footrest while reclining on Louisiana.

Italy oriented to the south:

How eccentric does Italy seem?

Traverse City oriented to the south:

I love how all you have to do is turn Michigan upside down to render the names “Upper Peninsula” and “Lower Peninsula” useless.

Sea of Japan oriented to the south:

It’s pretty weird to see the word ”South” above the word “North” on the Korean Peninsula.  I'm sure this particular orientation is banned by Dear Leader.

Southern Florida oriented to the south:

If you use your imagination, you can pretend Cuba here is actually the edge of a large continent.

Lake Erie oriented to the west:

You could sail down the lake from Detroit to Buffalo.

Boston oriented to the east:

Cape Cod towers over all.

UAE oriented to the east:

The coast here kind of looks like Western France.

Scandinavia oriented to the southwest:

It’s so askew!

In full disclosure, this is actually Apple Maps and not Google Earth.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Lakewood, Wisconsin

Well folks, I was caught off guard by the US Government shutdown and lost access to some of the websites I frequent for this blog.  I had planned on taking some data from NOAA for this post but unfortunately those pages are closed until the government gets back up and running.  I do have some limited information from wikipedia so I'll be using that.  Feel free to be skeptical of what you read here until I can come back and edit this post with the NOAA data.

From June 6-8 2007, a tornado outbreak occurred in the Northern Plains and Great Lakes regions.  On June 7, the largest tornado of the outbreak cut a path through Northeast Wisconsin as an EF3.  No one was killed and only a dozen buildings were damaged but the scar it left on Wisconsin would make you think otherwise.  From the imagery provided by Google Earth, a 40-mile-long (64 km) treeless path can be seen stretching linearly through the forest.  The path is close 3/4 of mile (1.2 km) wide at the widest point.  According to wikipedia, 14,000 acres (57 km sq) of forest were toppled by the tornado.

The following gif shows December 2005, September 2008, and November 2010:

Zoomed out for reference

You can find it yourself on Google Earth using these coords:     45°13'N  88°30'W  

More info from sources referenced: Wikipedia

Check back in two weeks to explore a giant wildfire!