Wind and Water

Hint.FM (Fernanda Viégas and Martin Wattenberg) created a seductive visualization of wind flows for the US. Click the image for a real-time animation and links to the past few weeks of weather patterns. (via Lian)

Equally beguiling is David Wicks’ Drawing Water, which documents precipitation with the water transfers to urban users.

These maps remind me of ocean current visualization that I saw few months back created by JPL and MIT.


Loosing the silence

The NYtimes reports on how human noise is overwhelming natural sounds in the remotest places and the effort to document the baseline quiet of natural sounds before they are lost in the mechanical cacophony. The quest to map the quiet zones of the planet have been going on for the past decades and there was a recent special edition of Landscape Ecology dedicated to soundscape ecology.

From the NYTime’s article:

[Davyd] Betchkal’s stations capture exactly what we would hear if we could stand invisibly in the wilderness for a month. The recordings can reveal the sonic relationships that play out in our absence — and help us to modify our acoustic footprint. But our understanding of sound will always be limited by our perception of it. We will never experience the ultrasonic cries of insects, lizards or bats without distorting them.

Sounds recordings from Denali

…since 2006, when scientists at Denali began a decade-long effort to collect a month’s worth of acoustic data from more than 60 sites across the park — including a 14,000-foot-high spot on Mount McKinley — Betchkal and his colleagues have recorded only 36 complete days in which the sounds of an internal combustion engine of some sort were absent. Planes are the most common source. Once, in the course of 24 hours, a single recording station captured the buzzing of 78 low-altitude props — the kind used for sightseeing tours; other areas have logged daily averages as high as one sky- or street-traffic sound every 17 minutes. The loudest stretch of the year is summer, when hundreds of thousands of tourists flock to Denali, embarking on helicopter or fixed-wing rides. Snowmobiles are popular with locals, and noise from the highway, the park road and daily passenger trains can travel for miles. That sort of human din, studies are beginning to suggest, is imperiling habitat — in Denali as well as wilderness areas around the world — as surely as a bulldozer or oil spill.

At the Grand Canyon (which is briefly mentioned in the NYT article), flight restrictions are now in place to preserve a modicum of tranquility without the buzzing of helicopters and planes over the entire canyon.

Continue reading

Eco-Technical Mapping of the Northeastern San Fernando Valley

LA402L Winter 2012 Sublime Infrastructures Mid-Review Videos

SUBLIME (adj): Of such excellence, grandeur, or beauty as to inspire great admiration or awe.

INFRASTRUCTURE (n): 1. An underlying base or foundation especially for an organization or system.

ECO-TECHNICAL SYSTEMS (n): ‘…an unprecedented amalgam of biology and technology… Urban eco-technical systems differ profoundly from nature’s ecosystems in that they are essentially linear systems.  They transcend local ecological boundaries by importing ecological services from elsewhere, using nature as a source of materials as well as a sink for their wastes.” – Herbert Girardet

MAPPING (v):     The act defining the spatial/temporal relationships between different places and systems.

INDEXING (v): The graphic spatial depiction of a system’s (or phenomena’s) influence on a place.

Project 1: Eco-technical Systems Analysis

Each team is to create at least 3 distinct maps or indexes drawn to scale that exploring the political, cultural, spatial, ecological, temporal, or technical fabric of the Valley and their connections to larger systems.  At least one of the maps must explore the temporal development of a system or place, and another must look at ecological systems.

  • Research     5 points
  • Process         5 points
  • Graphics     5 points
  • Innovation     5 points

Video 1: Eco-technical Systems

Documents the site and systems around the site, edited together with animation of the maps produced in Project 1 and historic documents.  Video 1 will provide a narrative about place that hints at the sublime.  The readings are expected to inform the content of the video.

  • Storyboards/pre-production        2 points
  • Script/Narrative                    3 points
  • Cinematography/Animation        3 points
  • Editing/post-production            2 points

(Student generated videos next) Continue reading

map of the day – US Routes system

by (c) Cameron Booth, an earlier version of just the interstates is here.

I have to say that without a doubt, this is the most complex network that I have yet attempted. Not only are there far more numbered routes than in the Interstate system, but there are also historical extensions and branches of many routes to consider. In some cases, numbers that were used once were reused in different parts of the country (see U.S. 48, which has been used for three completely separate roads!). I have attempted to show these historical roads as thinner route lines “behind” the main network, including the most famous U.S. highway of all – Route 66, which gets special treatment, being solid black in colour.

 Originally spotted by Quilian Riano in the Economist

infographic of the day – water change

Perhaps the most devastating impact of climate change to most American cities are water related. Yes, there is likely to be both increased flooding and droughts as precipitation events become more intense and sporadic. Without water (and with too much) our cities will wither.