Global news with a spatial perspective: Interesting, current supplemental materials for geography teachers and students.
Curated by Seth Dixon
|Suggested by Renata Hill|
Volcanic islands can seem to appear out of nowhere, emerging from the ocean like breaching monsters of the deep. Below, Mika McKinnon explains how these odd geological formations are born, how they evolve, and how they eventually vanish back beneath the waves.
Where an island is along this developmental continuum says much about the human populations that may inhabit said island. If the island is tall and young with rich volcanic soil, the mountain will attract rainfall and the soil could support agriculture, making the island able to sustain a higher population density. On the other hand, an old, eroding island with little rainfall and depleted soils will need human inhabitants to rely on the ocean's resources for food and would thus support a more minimal population. These islands are changing, even if the time scale is slow--but just recently two disconnected islands 'merged' as growing volcanic island has expanded in the Pacific.
"Only 2% of Australia's population lives in the yellow area. "
Questions to Ponder: Why is Australia's population so highly clustered? What is it about the yellow (and white) areas that explain this pattern? How does this map of rainfall add to our understanding? What other layers of information do we need to properly contextualize this information?
Just for fun, here is a Buzzfeed list that highlights the dangerous biogeography of Australia. Maybe this is why people aren't living in the yellow region.
Part I, island biogeography in a World Regional context...click here to watch part II, why island biogeography matters in places that aren't on islands. All links archived at: http://geographyeducation.org/2013/12/06/island-biogeography/
Island biogeography operates on different principles than we see on the continents. Soem extraordinary creatures such as the komodo dragon and thylacine can be found in isolated places removed interactions with more generalist species. Alfred Russel Wallace made some extraordinary discoveries combining biology and spatial thinking.
Island biogeography is pertinent today since habitat fragmentation (from urbanization and argicultural land uses) has rendered 'islands' out of the wilderness that isn't being used by humanity. Some animals such as the cougar are locally extinct from their historic ranges (extirpation).
This paper-puppet animation celebrates the life of Alfred Russel Wallace, who is co-credited with Charles Darwin for the theory of natural selection. Read the story here: http://nyti.ms/1fhBbGw
1) What is a hotspot? A volcanic "hotspot" is an area in the upper mantle from which heat rises in a plume from deep in the Earth. High heat and lower pressure at the base of the mantle facilitates melting of the rock. This melt, called magma, rises through cracks to the surface and forms volcanoes. As the tectonic plate moves over the stationary hot spot, the volcanoes are rafted away and new ones form in their place.
Why are the Hawaiian Islands a linear formation if there are not plate boundaries in that region? Why are the islands seemingly arranged from largest to smallest? The answers lie in the physical geography of 'hot spots.' After this introductory video, you can learn more about the geologic life cycle of a hot spot volcanic island in this companion video.
Did you know that in 2000 the IHO created a new ocean called the Southern Ocean? Here, learn about where and what the Southern Ocean is.
Maybe if more of the global population lived in the Southern Hemisphere, perhaps our educational systems would emphasize more information about the Southern Ocean (not to mention acknowledge that it even exists). This body of water isn't just the southernmost part of the Pacific, Indian and Atlantic Oceans; the biology, temperature, chemistry and ocean currents all make it a distinct body of water that circles Antarctica. This is just one of over twenty videos in the "geography" tab from the great folks at about.com.
New demographic study in California reveals nation’s changing face. Plus how Pacific Islanders changed high school football in Utah and why a Somali Bantu band from Vermont is in demand around the country.
This news article of 'odds and ends' has some interesting geographic content. Having lived in Utah for many years, I can attest to the fact that the "Polynesian Pipeline" for Utah schools is incredibly important and represents a chain migration that has culturally shifted both the 'host' and 'migrant' population. The 'haka' is now institutionized as a part of Intermountain West football culture.
Also in this article:
--Hispanics to outnumber whites in California by 2014
--Somali Bantu band from Burlington, VT in demand across the country
An initial analysis of the Mount Dixon landslide in New Zealand on Monday
There are some great images (and a post-landslide helicopter flight video) of the massive landslide that occurred Jan 21, 2013. The rockslide extends over 3 km, with an elevation change of approximately 800 meters. This is an excellent example to help students visualize mass wasting, alpine glaciation and erosion in general. While the mountain didn't explode strictly speaking, I couldn't help but love the headline "Mount Dixon explodes!"
Photo by Jean Paul Ferrero/Ardea/Caters News (via Exposing the Truth Lake Hillier is a pink-coloured lake on Middle Island in Western Australia. Middle island is the largest of the islands a...
Pictured above is Lake Hillier, located on a small island south of Western Australia. Around the world there are many pink lakes; most of them can attribute their hue to their high salinity composition. Some algaes that thrive in salt water produce organic pigments with a reddish/pinkish coloration. This particular lake's coloration is a mystery. If you any additional information, feel free to share in in the comments section below.
Should we look to traditional societies to help us tweak our lives? Wade Davis takes issue with the whole idea
Jared Diamond is famous for his work in writing Guns, Germs and Steel as well as Collapse. His latest work, The World Until Yesterday, he encourages modern readers to examine the traditional societies for insights on how to improve the human condition. In this book review by Wade Davis, he critiques this approach and suggests that we should see indigenous societies as reminders that our modern lifestyle is not the only way.
Aboriginal leaders threaten to ban tourists from a top Australian landmark in protest at "racist" government policies.
This is an old article, but a fascinating topic that cuts across many geographic issues. Uluru, the landform that that European explorers named Ayers Rock, was the key place that is at the center of a struggle between indigenous people and the government. Many feel that the government's course of action in the mid 2000's was paternalistic and racist. They banned alcohol and pornography in over 70 indigenous communities in an attempt to lower the rates of child sex abuse. Sex Abuse is high (and often hidden) in aboriginal communities where a child is 7 times more likely to be abused than in the rest of the Australian population.
Questions to Ponder: Would the government impose such measures on other populations within Australia? When crimes have a racial component, does a government have the right to limit a particular groups' actions? Why or why not?
Sometimes we all want to see a fabulously gorgeous physical landscape and marvel at the beauty that is in this world. For some other spectacular images, here is a great collection of images (without much geographic specificity though).
|Suggested by Brian Yanish - MarketingHits.com|
There’s a South Pacific island positioned midway between Australia and New Caledonia featured on various marine charts, world maps, and has appeared in publications since at least the year 2000. It’s listed as Sandy Island on Google Maps and Google Earth, and yet Australian scientists have just discovered it doesn’t exist.
As part of a 25-day voyage, the group went to the area, only to find a 1,400m (4,620ft) deep section of the Coral Sea. The team collected 197 different rock samples, more than 6800km of marine geophysical data, and mapped over 14,000 square kilometers of the ocean floor. This is just a reminder that a map is only as reliable as the information used to compile that map (see BBC article as well). For another reminder of this same idea see "The Republic of Null Island."
Papua New Guinea, once home to cannibals, still has an exotic aura. The local tourist economy caters to those notions, and visitors may see a hybrid of the traditional and the modern.
This story is an intriguing blend--we see traditional cultures engaging in the global economy. They have created two villages: a traditional one designed for tourism filled with emblems of their folk cultures, and another one where people work, live eat and play with various markers of outside cultural and technological influence.
"Tourists are taking pictures. They don't want to take pictures of those who are in Western clothes. People who are in Western clothes are not allowed to get close to people who are dressed up in the local dressings."
Questions to Ponder: Which village do you see as the more "authentic" one? How can culture also be a commodity?
|Suggested by Thomas Schmeling|
The story behind the the International Date Line.
Not too long ago (Jan. 2012), the arbitrary International Date Line (roughly opposite the Prime Meridian) was moved to better accommodate the regional networks and economic geography of the area straddling the line. American Samoa, although politically aligned with the United States, was functionally more integrated on the Asian side of the Pacific Rim when it came to their trade partners and their tourism base. Dynamic economic networks, political allegiances and cultural commonalities create a beautifully complex situation near this 'border.'
Jeff Larson has seen just about everything wash up on the shores of Santa Cruz: bottles, toys, shotgun shells, busted surfboards and fishing floats that looked like they had bobbed across the Pacific.
This is just another long-term 'after-shock' of the tsunami that devasted Japan over 1 year ago.
"The photograph is real, no photoshop, no digital manipulation, no nothing, in fact it was shot on slide film Fuji Provia 100 using a Nikon F5 Camera and 17-35 mm lens. For those conspiracy fans who still doubt its authenticity please read how I took the photograph." --The true story by Thomas P. Peschak
|Suggested by Thomas Schmeling|
architectural conjecture :: urban speculation :: landscape futures...
In the 1960s when the island of Surtsey (literally) erupted onto the scene off the coast of Iceland, it's national sovereignty was not really called into question. The seamount, or near island named Ferdinandea in the Mediterranean is not even an island yet and countries are already positioning themselves to claim it. Only 6 feet below sea level, this seamount is incredibly valuable real estate because is a country can successfully came this territory, they could also lay claim to an Exclusive Economic Zone, extending up to 200 nautical miles beyond the coast.
High-resolution imaging has allowed scientists to produce the first full count of Antarctica's emperor penguins...
Before this, there was no way to to gather reliable penguin statistics. Geospatial technologies are now providing us the tools to teach us more about the biogeography of penguins. The applications of geospatial technologies are endless.
|Suggested by Martin Daumiller|
NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center Scientific Visualization Studio — the same team that recently brought us an animation of the moon as it will appear from Earth for each hour of 2012 — has also released a stunning video called “Perpetual Ocean,” a time lapse of the world’s ocean currents as calculated by the ECCO2 computational model.
This is an stunning visualization of ocean currents. Thanks for the suggestion!
March 26, 2012—In a state-of-the-art submersible, National Geographic explorer-in-residence and filmmaker James Cameron reached the deepest point of the Mariana Trench, breaking a world record for the deepest solo dive.
For those who haven't been following National Geographic news, James Cameron (director of "Titanic" and "The Abyss") entered a submarine named DEEPSEA CHALLENGER, and dove to the bottom of the Mariana Trench, the deepest point on Earth. Enjoy this video describing this "lunar-like" environment that is so deep it is lightless and near lifeless with extreme pressure. For more on the expedition, read: http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2012/03/120326-james-cameron-mariana-trench-challenger-deepest-lunar-sub-science/
Fearing that climate change could wipe out their Pacific archipelago, the leaders of Kiribati are considering an unusual backup plan: moving the population to Fiji.
How urgent is the issue of climate change? That question is not only geographic in content, but the response might also be somewhat contingent on geography as well. If your country literally has no higher ground to retreat to, the thought of even minimal sea level change would be totally devastating.
The insect is so large — as big as a human hand — it's been dubbed a "tree lobster." It was thought to be extinct, but some enterprising entomologists scoured a barren hunk of rock in the middle of the ocean and found surviving Lord Howe Island...
Island Biogeography is endlessly fascinating and provides some of the most striking species we have on Earth. The physical habitat is fragmented and the genetic diversity is limited. Within this context, species evolve to fill ecological niches within their particular locale. This NPR article demonstrates the story of but one of these incredible species that never could have evolved on the continents. In modern society, more extinctions are happening on islands than anywhere else as 'specialist' species are in greater competition with 'generalists.'