Map projections and “cause of death” maps

For ages, navigators and other travelers have struggled with how to build a map. Since the earth is spherical and traditional maps are flat, two-dimensional papers, the question is of how to map with as little distortion as possible.

Navigators gravitate towards maps such as the Mercator projection, which has accurate shape and direction, but distorts size, stretching landforms near the poles and making them appear far larger than they actually are, greatly enhancing the perceived size of the Northern Hemisphere. While Greenland appears the same size as Africa on a Mercator projection, it is actually approximately three times the size of Texas.

The Peters projection preserves area, showing the continents more accurately in terms of size, but is less accurate in other ways. There are literally thousands of projections of ways to map the Earth.

Worldmapper has developed a new series of projections which feature causes of death around the world. Worldmapper is a project by the University of Sheffield in England and the University of Michigan in order to cartographically represent causes of death around the world.

Using data from the 2002 World Health Organization Global Burden of Disease project, they created maps featuring everything from AIDS deaths (where Africa swells like a balloon) to maps of war deaths, ovarian cancer, and numerous other causes.

Below, is a map of malaria deaths around the world. The complete map index can be found here.

Posted by | Comments (1)  | November 15, 2007
Category: General


One Response to “Map projections and “cause of death” maps”

  1. Mike Says:

    For those who are interested in learning how these charts are drawn, you can check out Mark Newman’s page on cartograms http://www-personal.umich.edu/~mejn/cartograms/

    There are links to the technical papers at the end of the article.