Category Archives: Geography

USDA Plant Hardiness Map

From Geospatial eNews top 5 links:

USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map

The 2012 USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map is the standard by which gardeners and growers can determine which plants are most likely to thrive at a location. The map is based on the average annual minimum winter temperature, divided into 10-degree F zones.

For the first time, the map is available as an interactive GIS-based map, for which a broadband Internet connection is recommended, and as static images for those with slower Internet access. Users may also simply type in a ZIP Code and find the hardiness zone for that area.

No posters of the USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map have been printed. But state, regional, and national images of the map can be downloaded and printed in a variety of sizes and resolutions.


AAG Launches New Undergraduate Student Affinity Group

The American Association of Geographers will launch a new affinity group specifically for undergraduate students. The Undergraduate Student Affinity Group (USAG) will be an international community of students studying geography, offering opportunities to network and socialize, get advice on graduate study and careers, and take part in academic events.

USAG will work closely with the Graduate Student Affinity Group (GSAG) to plan and develop joint events and workshops that are run by students for students. These may include mentoring and advice on applying to grad school.

USAG membership is open to undergraduate students at a college or university anywhere in the world who are studying geography or a closely related subject (e.g., environmental studies, urban and regional planning, GIScience, geoscience, global studies, or social science education), and are members of the AAG—joining AAG and USAG can happen simultaneously.

Undergraduate students can join the AAG for just $38 and receive full membership benefits including access to scholarly journals and publications, exclusive access to the Jobs in Geography listings, participation in the knowledge communities, and reduced rates for Annual Meeting and other event registration. They can join USAG for an additional $1.

We are also looking for a few students to form the inaugural board of USAG and shape the future of this group. Nominations are welcome throughout the fall and winter, and officers will be selected during the first Business Meeting of USAG held during the AAG Annual Meeting in Boston, April 5-9, 2017. Please let us know if you know particularly enthusiastic students in their sophomore or junior years who might be keen to serve as an officer of this group for two years.

For further information please visit or contact Jenny Lunn (jlunn [at] aag [dot] org).

USGS: Volcano Hazards Program

30 Years of the Volcano Disaster Assistance Program

There are approximately 1,550 potentially active volcanoes around the world. 2016 marks the 30th year that the Volcano Disaster Assistance program (VDAP) has worked to reduce loss of life and property, limit economic impact and prevent volcanic crises from becoming disasters. The USGS and U.S. Agency for International Development’s Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance (USAID/OFDA) established VDAP in 1986 in response to the tragic eruption of Nevado del Ruiz Volcano in Colombia, which killed more than 23,000 people from volcanic mudflows. Since then, VDAP scientific teams have deployed in response to 30 major crises, assisted counterparts with hundreds of additional volcanic events, and strengthened response capacity in 12 countries since the program began.

To recognize the milestone, the USGS is highlighting some of the major responses, showing how the program has helped save countless lives. Read the USGS Top Story to learn how VDAP works to support international scientists and agencies at the invitation of a host country.

Cartogram Special – The Olympic Games

  • From
  • Written by  Benjamin Hennig
  • Published in Mapping

Cartogram Special – The Olympic GamesBenjamin Hennig/

Which country has been the most successful in Olympic history? Benjamin Hennig charts the winners and participants of the Olympic Games

The 2016 Summer Olympics are the first Olympics to be hosted in South America. More than 10,000 athletes of the over 200 member nations are expected to compete in Rio de Janeiro as well as events in Brasília, Belo Horizonte, Salvador, São Paulo, and Manaus.

The cartogram in Figure 1 shows the countries of the world resized according to the total number of participants from each country (data as of 30 June 2016). Competing athletes are entered by their National Olympic Committees (NOCs) and also have to go through competitions in order to meet the entry standards for the games. Some numbers are influenced by further special circumstances: Brazil as the host nations did not have to go through all qualifying rounds and received automatic entry in some disciplines.

Athletes from Kuwait will this year compete under the Olympic flag due to its NOC having been suspended. In this map, these are still shown as representing their country. Russia also faced suspension, leading to its athletes being banned from all athletic competitions, which reduces the number of athletes competing for Russia this year. In the light of the migrant crisis, a team of ten Refugee Olympic Athletes will also participate in the games for the first time

Figure 1Figure 1


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Browse More Than 1,000 National Park Maps, All in One Place

From The Atlantic City Lab

Browse More Than 1,000 National Park Maps, All in One Place

A park ranger is diligently uploading these free cartographic resources for the enjoyment and convenience of all.

A 3-D map of Hawaii’s Haleakala National Park. (

Map addicts, you’ve been warned: A park ranger has been diligently uploading maps from hundreds of America’s national parks for the enjoyment, education and convenience of all. According to, some 1,053 high-resolution national park maps are available to view, save, and download for free.

The site is not officially affiliated with the National Park Service, on whose vast and multifaceted web presence many of these maps also appear. Rather, it is a way to consolidate and organize the agency’s valuable cartographic resources, which represent some of the finest American mapmaking of the past century.

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Blame Geography for High Housing Prices?


It’s not just land use restrictions that are responsible for steep rents in cities like San Francisco and New York.

It’s become something of a mantra among urban economists: Increasingly unaffordable housing prices in cities like New York, London, and San Francisco are very often the consequence of onerous and out-of-date land use regulations. Whether it’s restrictions on the height of buildings or the density of development, these regulations effectively constrain the supply of housing. This year’s Economic Report of the President flagged such land use regulations as a major factor in skyrocketing housing prices and growing urban inequality. Another study I wrote about last year estimates that restrictive urban land use policies cost the U.S. economy around $1.6 trillion a year.

But something much more enduring than zoning and land use is also contributing to the deepening housing affordability problems of leading superstar cities and knowledge hubs. According to a recent study by Issi Romem, chief economist at BuildZoom, part of the explanation lies in the geographic characteristics of cities and metros—mountains, lakes, coastlines, etc.—that make it all but impossible to expand and add more housing.

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