Stamen’s Map Stack: the Instagram for maps.

Stamen's Map Stack: makes designing map free, easy, and fun.

Stamen’s Map Stack: makes designing maps free, easy, and fun.

Try out Map Stack, which the developers at Stamen refer to as the Instagram for maps and describe as:

Map Stack is about putting your creativity on the map, making it radically simpler to design your own map styles, without having to know any code, sign up for anything, install any software, or do any typing. We provide different parts of the map stack: backgrounds, roads, labels, and satellite imagery and straightforward controls for manipulating things like color, opacity and masking. You don’t need to sign up for anything, know how to code, or know much about cartography to make great looking maps. You just need to decide where in the world you want to go, a web browser, and about five minutes.

Map Stack generates an image of the map you’ve created, which you can download, share, and use for your purposes. So I took it for a quick spin and generated a few maps using the default designs before tweaking the controls a little bit. The first image shows satellite imagery blended with Stamen’s watercolor trademark as a layer covering water bodies. The dark image uses the toner lite layer also developed by Stamen.

Both images below show metropolitan Manila, the capital of the Philippines, flanked by two water bodies, namely Laguna de Bay on the right and Manila Bay on the left. Large aquaculture areas can be observed on the upper left portion of the image to the north of Manila Bay. An inverted T-shaped figure near the center of the image and of Metro Manila are the runways of Ninoy Aquino International Airport, dubbed among the worst airports in the world unfortunately. Notice that clouds are scattered across parts of the image, which are inherent in optical satellite imageries esp. in the tropics.

Image generated by Map Stack showing Metro Manila using blended watercolor layer with satellite imagery.

Image generated by Map Stack showing Metro Manila using blended watercolor layer with satellite imagery.

map stack toner lite

Image generated by Map Stack showing Metro Manila using inverted toner lite layer.

#MappaeMundiMondays #MMM

Way of life?

MODIS satellite image of typhoon Neoguri

MODIS satellite image of super typhoon Neoguri approaching the Taiwan and Japan (05:00 UTC 07/08/2014). (Image credit: NASA)

Seeing the recent satellite imageries of typhoon Neoguri turning into a super typhoon during the past few days (like the one above) gave me both a sense of dread and relief. Dread because the image was reminiscent of last year’s image of super typhoon Haiyan (like the one below) and its potential terrifying onslaught if it happened to make landfall in the Philippines. Relief because its path was slightly at a higher latitude and its trajectory was pushed upwards away from the Philippines, thanks really to the southwest monsoon. I am thankful that the Philippines was spared from the impact of super typhoon Neoguri, while my thoughts and prayers at the same time go out to Japan and Taiwan that they survive through this storm. Could experiencing these super typhoons year on after year be our way of life now?

MODIS satellite image of super typhoon Haiyan approaching the Philippines (16:25 UTC 11/07/2013). (Image credit: NASA)

To end this short post, I’m sharing a quote below from Naderev Saño, lead negotiator from the Philippines Climate Change Commission, from his speech last year at the United Nations Climate Summit (COP 19) in Warsaw, Poland where he pleaded for urgent action on climate change. These words have been in my thoughts of late.

We can take drastic action now to ensure that we prevent a future where super typhoons are a way of life. Because we refuse, as a nation, to accept a future where super typhoons like Haiyan become a fact of life. We refuse to accept that running away from storms, evacuating our families, suffering the devastation and misery, having to count our dead, become a way of life. We simply refuse to.

#SuperTyphoon #Neoguri #Haiyan

Mappae Mundi Mondays.

The term mappa mundi (plural: mappae mundi) comes from the Latin words mappa meaning cloth or towel, and mundus meaning world, which pertains to any medieval European map of the world. Maps like the Hereford Mappa Mundi displayed in Hereford Cathedral in England were originally painted on cloth in the late 1300s. It showed the known world at the time: with Jerusalem at the center of the map and the known continents of Europe, Africa, and Asia placed around it. In our contemporary times, mappae mundi just seem to be antiquated and crude maps, and are of no practical use. These elaborate maps, nevertheless, encapsulate the prevailing geographic knowledge, views, and principles of the time, like a time capsule or a snapshot of the past.

Starting today, I’ll be posting blogs on Mondays every week (hopefully regularly) featuring maps or images of places on Earth, either old or new. I’ve decided to aptly label it #MappaeMundiMonday, perhaps in honor of or as a tribute to the makers of mappae mundi, who began drawing their views of the world.

For today’s #MappaeMundiMonday, here’s an image taken by the European Space Agency‘s (ESA) Sentinel-1A satellite on 06 June 2014 showing Mt Pinatubo in Luzon Island, Philippines. Mt Pinatubo had a major eruption in 15 June 1991, discharging millions of tons of sulphur dioxide into the atmosphere that resulted in a decrease in temperatures worldwide over the next few years. The eruption also drastically changed the landscape.

Sentinel-1A radar satellite image of Mt Pinatubo, Luzon, Philippines taken on 06 June 2014 (Image source: European Space Agency)

Sentinel-1A radar satellite image of Mt Pinatubo, Luzon, Philippines taken on 06 June 2014 (Image source: European Space Agency)

The dark area at the upper central part of the radar image shows Lake Pinatubo, of which the crater lake formed as a result of the eruption and was filled with water by monsoon rains. Mud and debris flows are still visible in the image draining westward from Mt Pinatubo towards the West Philippine Sea. In this radar image, mountain ridges appear as if lying down on the ground, which is an effect of the synthetic aperture radar measuring the distance to features in slant-range rather than true horizontal distances along the ground. These distortions called foreshortening, layover, and shadowing can be corrected by further image processing. Other visible features found in the radar image include shipyards in Subic Bay (southwest part) and the airport at Clark, Pampanga (northeast part), both of which were former United States military installations; and the large aquaculture areas north of Manila Bay situated at the southeast part of the image.

Sentinel-1A is a C-band synthetic aperture radar satellite launched on 03 April 2014, which is part of ESA’s new Sentinel fleet of satellites. Sentinel-1A is an all-weather, day-and-night radar imaging mission useful for land and sea monitoring (e.g., sea ice movement, oil spills, ocean winds and waves, land use change, land deformation, etc.) and for responding to emergencies such as floods and earthquakes. Learn more about Sentinel-1A satellite here.

#MappaeMundiMondays #MMM