Gulf Spill Mapping, Infographic Roundup

June 9, 2010
Multiple cameras on JPL's MISR instrument on NASA's Terra spacecraft were used to create two unique views of oil moving into Louisiana's coastal wetlands. Image Credit: NASA/GSFC/LaRC/JPL, MISR Team.

 

As the Gulf oil spill continues to spread, where it is, where it's going, and what effects it might have are a growing concern to more parts of the US. Maps, data visualizations, and infographics are key tools for telling this story. Here's a roundup of useful resources. (Several of these are already mentioned on SEJ's Daily Glob blog.)   

 

1. NATIONAL OCEANOGRAPHIC & ATMOSPHERIC ADMINISTRATION (NOAA)

2. DEEPWATER HORIZON JOINT INFORMATION CENTER

3. ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY

  • EPA response to Gulf oil spill: In addition to imagery and news updates, this site includes Google Earth map layers based on data from ASPECT, "a twin engine aircraft designed to assist in the collection of air sampling data as well as photo documentation of environmental incidents." Also features air, water, and sediment monitoring datasets. 

4. STATE OF LOUISIANA

5. GOOGLE CRISIS RESPONSE

  • Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill: One of the best parts of this collection of resources is the list of Google Earth map layers (kml files) created by a wide range of sources, addressing many different topics. If you use Google Earth (and every environmental journalist should), then the map layers here can be the basis of animations, still images, and other kinds of imagery that can enhance reporting (Be sure to double check the date and source of information for each kml file.).
  • This site also supports YouTube video uploads of oil spill-related videos (most about the recent Gulf spill, some on other spills or spill-related issues). 

6. NATIONAL AERONAUTICS & SPACE ADMINISTRATION

  • NASA Oil Spill Imagery: One of the most telling ways to view the Gulf oil spill is from space. Many divisions of NASA have been generating compelling, free-to-use satellite photos, data visualizations, charts, articles, backgrounders, news updates, and more about this disaster. On Flickr.
  • See how National Geographic used some images from NASA Goddard to explain the spill's evolution. 

7. LOUISIANA BUCKET BRIGADE/TULANE UNIVERSITY

  • The Louisiana Bucket Brigade, a citizen anti-pollution group, has combined with GIS students at Tulane to produce a crowdsourced spill crisis map. This project, based on the open-source platform Ushahidi, allows people from all along the Gulf coast to file location-identified reports (text, photos, video, audio) by mobile phone or computers. The quality, usefulness, and reliability of individual contributions vary — but on the whole this project provides intriguing insight and excellent engagement potential. 

8. AMERICAN BIRD CONSERVANCY

  • This wildlife advocacy group mashed up their own info about Gulf coast bird habitats with NOAA data about the spill to create a static-image map showing which kinds of birds might be affected, and how. Their resource page also includes a list of critical bird habitats most at risk from the spill — which could be useful for additional data mashups. 

9. ESRI

  • ESRI corporation, the dominant producer of GIS software, has produced a set of Gulf spill interactive maps: Map layers based on social media postings about the Gulf spill, an animated timeline map, and an economic impact map. 

10. SKYTRUTH

  • This environmental advocacy group uses "remote sensing and digital mapping to educate the public and policymakers about the environmental consequences of human activities, and to hold corporations and governments to higher standards of accountability around the globe." They used government aerial maps to produce a more accurate estimate of oil flow at a time when BP, the federal Incident Command, and the traditional news media were shirking this duty. News media picked the story up from Skytruth.
  • Ushahidi-powered crowdsourced Gulf oil spill tracker map. Flickr photosets. Blog. 

11. THE GULF OF MEXICO MESS (pipeline map)

12. BP SITE

  • Gulf of Mexico Response: BP's own information about the Deepwater Horizon incident, spill, and efforts to cap the well and clean up the spill. Numerous resources in many media. Also includes links to BP's state-specific spill-related sites. 

13. NEW ORLEANS TIMES-PICAYUNE

14. NEW YORK TIMES

  • NY Times interactive Gulf spill map: Notable for its prominent explanation of assumptions made in creating the map from data, and for highlighting differences in estimates of the spill size. Clarifies that there's not just one set of data to look at, nor just one way to look at the data. 

17. SOCIAL MEDIA: PHOTOS AND VIDEOS

  • Flickr: Creative Commons-licensed images taken after April 20, 2010 that mention "oil spill" in the tags. (Note: double-check sourcing on these, sometimes CC license is claimed inappropriately.).
  • YouTube videos tagged with BPOilSpill. 

18. IF IT WAS MY HOME

19. VARIOUS DATA VISUALIZATIONS

20. NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER

  • So far this NOAA site only has an FAQ document about how hurricanes might interact with the oil spill. But over the coming hurricane season it's likely that usual Gulf hurricane maps and imagery will be augmented to include special spill-related information. 

21. GREEN BLOG (NY Times)