The true size of Africa

The true Size of Africa

Maps have long been the preserve of the “Old World” and we like nothing more than putting ourselves at the centre of the map and making ourselves look big and important.  Representing a 3D object in 2 dimensions is not a simple task. Projections usually distort some areas of the globe in order to represent the World in a rough rectangle.

The Gall-Peters projection aims to represent land mass area reliably and results in an odd view of the World.  Odd, in that we are just so used to seeing land area distorted in-favor of the Northern Hemisphere.  Gall came up with this projection in 1855, but it was popularised by Peters in the 1980′s to highlight the misrepresentation and self importance of developed nations.   Most maps will show Greenland as being about the same size as Africa but it is actually 14 times smaller.

Today there is an article doing the rounds that reports the “true size of Africa”.  I picked this up from the Economist, and it shows the continent of Africa compared with a number of countries.  It is an eye-opener.  You can easily squeeze China, the USA, India and most of Europe into Africa and still have room to slide Japan in for good measure.  Africa is huge. Maps lie, or rather, we make maps for a purpose and this often emphasises a feature at the detriment of others we are less interested in.

The image has been released under a creative commons licence which is great.  You are free to download it and re-use it.

Economist article

Creative Commons Image

Satellites monitor impact of climate change on ecosystems

Ecology Indicators

If you are interested in ecosystems and conservation and how remote sensing can be used as a monitoring tool then you might be interested to read a paper published today in Ecological Indicators.

Tracking the effect of climate change on ecosystem functioning using protected areas: Africa as a case study hows how remote sensing has helped scientists assess the imapct of climate change on the ecosystem. Remote sensing allows you to analyse places you cannot easily access and to monitor areas much larger than you could hope to using ground based techniques.  The researchers used this to their advantage to monitor inaccessible areas that were largely untouched by human activity.  Removing the effect of humans means that changes in response to climate change should be more evident.  The study looked at 168 sites and analysed data from a 27 year period, giving this study good temporal and spatial coverage.

To find out what the study concluded follow the link below to access the current issue of Ecological Indicators, which is handily Open Access.

Tracking the effect of climate change on ecosystem functioning using protected areas: Africa as a case study – Ecological Indicators Vol 20, September 2012