Mapping the Arctic Circle – Then and Now

Mapping of the Arctic region has historically proved to be a challenge for cartographers and geo-scientists, though as referred to in a previous article (see here),  local knowledge is valuable in contributing to knowledge of the often perceived ‘wilderness’ by ‘Westerners’. In many ways, as alluded to in Alastair Bonnett’s brilliant book, Off the Map, despite living in an age of digital mapping, there is much geographic knowledge still to be discovered. This is perhaps most relevant and important, given global warming, in the Arctic region, and two recent articles associated to this piqued my interest in this area, and thought it would be a good follow up to my previous Arctic related post.


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Surge of news in UK GIS Flood Datasets

Surge of news in UK GIS Flood Datasets

For those involved in flood mapping, environmental planning /change, or just a passing interest; there has been a recent surge in news on GIS flood mapping datasets in the UK.

Environment Agency Flood Map for Planning

Firstly, the Environment Agency has recently this month, updated its National Flood Map for Planning (Rivers and Sea) database, mapping Flood Zone 2 (1 in 1,000 year flood) and Flood Zone 3 (1 in 100 year flood), and areas of flood defences and those benefiting from flood defences. My experience of using this data in the past has been that is has been useful at a indicative larger scale, but less so at a smaller scale property level, however this was with much older data. This latest version appears to have greater detail to this, as well as being the most up to date. Along with the highly informative and reliable NaFRA dataset, the Environment Agency, as well as National Resources Wales and SEPA, continue to lead the way in its work in national flood risk assessment. This mapping has for some reason trended among regional online papers particularly (e.g. herehere and here).

However, this wasn’t the only recent bit of news to trickle in, aerial mapping company Bluesky have made available online a Groundwater Flood Map on behalf of JBA Consulting. I cannot comment on the usability of this data, without having downloaded it myself, but it does sound particularly exciting and precise, especially when past groundwater data in UK has often been large scale rasters of all but indicative use. It is based on:

“a range of data, including known locations of past groundwater flooding events, rainfall measurements and aquifer properties, the new map provides classification of hazards on a 50 metre grid using a simple traffic-light system. A three tiered methodology, used to create the map, allows for quick and efficient updates and refining of the map for local areas of particular interest.”

I’d be interested to see what this dataset is like, with groundwater flooding and stores an important element in flood modelling, along with run off, and of course rainfall. I’ve been personally, particularly impressed with Bluesky’s previous work  with WMS services and datasets providing aerial photography, Ordnance Survey data, but also LiDAR and height data, and the use of image (tree crown) detection National Tree map. The latter of these is a personal favourite of mine, given one of my first pieces of work involved mapping notable trees from aerial and street photography. But these are two interesting developments, and with the likelihood of news of further development in TUFLOW and CH2M’s Flood Modeller software, it could be an interesting time in UK flood mapping. Hopefully it will be less interesting in flooding itself!

Happy Mapping,