Storm Filomena brings an unexpected start to 2021 in Spain.

I never, ever expected to see snow like this in Madrid. Trees are breaking under the weight of snow, all transport is suspended, and there are snow people everywhere! Snow began to fall on Thursday 7 January 2021 and Storm Filomena is exceeding all expectations. According to the news channel rtve, the last time it snowed this much was in 1971.

Here are a few photos I’ve taken over the past few days.

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Palacio de Cristal, Parque de Retiro. 7 January 2021.

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Platforms such as Resource Watch combine scientific and spatial data to provide insights that help us understand our world and the challenges we face. Image: Resource Watch, accessed 12 November 2020. https://bit.ly/3pnxJUU.

Data Science and GIS go hand in hand in the fight against climate change.

The problems we work on — like climate change and biodiversity loss — are transcendent. There’s no single solution to these problems, so we must bring together different communities and fields of work to find them. At CARTO’s Spatial Data Science Conference 2020 (SDSC20), Vizzuality’s Greta Carrete Vega and Luisa Teixeira discussed how Data Science and GIS go hand in hand in the fight against climate change.

To prepare for SDSC20, Greta and Luisa gathered some of our data science and GIS experts to talk about our own experiences of two disciplines working together. The group realised that their diverse range of backgrounds and experiences means they can see things from different perspectives and challenge each other’s biases. …


October 2020 updates.

Global Forest Watch, the online platform for monitoring forests, recently added new data, new features and updated some existing data layers. As ever, we worked closely with the Global Forest Watch team at World Resources Institute to deliver these upgrades. Here’s a summary of what’s newly available and the significance of these updates.

If you prefer to digest your information in 280 characters or less, check out our Twitter thread.

High-resolution satellite imagery from Planet.

Transparency and accountability are key to sustainable forest use. A new basemap using high-resolution satellite imagery provided by Planet makes deforestation easier to detect. …


National-level efforts to protect land vertebrates tracked.

The Half-Earth Project is a call to protect half the land and sea in order to manage sufficient habitat to safeguard the bulk of biodiversity. But which half? The most recent update to the Half-Earth Map introduces the National Report Cards which summarise various aspects of conservation efforts at the national level. They can be used to explore different national indicators measuring conservation needs and progress and understand the different challenges faced by each country.

Here, we will show you what to expect from the National Report Cards.

In-depth country focus.

The National Report Cards focus on one country at a time. Once a country is selected for exploration, the rest of the world falls away and exposes a 3D map that’s ready to explore. This map view is the entry point for country-level analysis. …


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Smoke plumes caused by wildfires cover almost the entire USA. Data: Data: NOAA. 2017. “Hazard Mapping System (HMS) Fire and Smoke Analysis.” Office of Satellite and Product Operations, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. http://www.ospo.noaa.gov/Products/land/fire.html. Accessed through Resource Watch, 18 September 2020 https://bit.ly/2HcZyOh

Record-breaking wildfires are burning in the USA — again.

Sometimes, it seems to me that extreme wildfires are a recurring theme in our global headlines. Australia. Brazil. California. But why? Is what we’re seeing unusual? Or are we seeing a pattern that will repeat itself if we fail to act on climate change?

To understand what’s happening and how it affects our society, we need data. And for that we have access to open data platforms. Through these platforms we can stay informed, predict the future, and make plans to protect the things we love.

Using Global Forest Watch, Resource Watch, and PREPdata to explore the data, it’s clear that this year’s fires in the USA are worse than normal. …


For the first time, data on mangrove deforestation, carbon storage and coastline protection are easily and freely accessible online. Global Mangrove Watch — a mapping platform — highlights the importance of mangroves and provides the data that are needed to inform conservation and restoration planning. With this information, decisions can be made to mitigate climate change and protect the livelihoods of billions of people who live in, and depend on, coastal areas.

Global Mangrove Watch explores the science behind remote sensing. Scientists from Aberystwyth University, soloEO, Wetlands International and The Nature Conservancy and a host of other partners joined together to provide the data. …


Design and user research go hand in hand when it comes to product development. Both are essential if you want to make a product that is useful, usable, and used. We’ve been working with the Resource Watch team at World Resources Institute (WRI) on a redesign that makes planetary data easier to use.

I spoke with Dani Caso (Designer) and Martin Dubuisson (User Researcher) to find out more.

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Take a look at the new look Explore page.

So, why did Resource Watch get a redesign?

Dani: User research done by Martin revealed several things that we could improve in terms of the user experience on Resource Watch. …


The Amazon was on fire. Now we know how much forest was lost in 2019.

In August 2019 the world’s eyes were focused on Brazil. The Amazon was on fire and social media was burning up in indignation. The data available at the time told us how many fires there were, but they couldn’t tell us how much forest had been lost. Today, we can finally answer that question. The release of the 2019 tree cover loss data from Global Forest Watch reveals the data we’ve been waiting for.

Global overview.

In 2019, we lost 3.8 million hectares of primary forest — the equivalent of losing one football pitch of primary rainforest every six seconds for the entire year. …


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Photo by Yukitaka Iha on Unsplash.

Powerful, personalised forest monitoring.

The latest update of Global Forest Watch offers a more powerful and personalised way to monitor forests. Working closely with our partners at World Resources Institute, we’ve upgraded the Global Forest Watch dashboards. Now you can create dashboards for any area in the world to answer specific questions on where, why, and how much forest change has happened.

The covid-19 pandemic has ignited fresh debate on how we use our forests. Our ever-encroaching expansion into pristine forests is exposing vulnerabilities we’d rarely given thought to. But with demand for beef, soy and other commodities rising, we can’t ignore the environmental impacts of our appetites. …


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Covid-19 affects the whole world but not everyone’s experience will be the same. In sub-Saharan Africa — where only 15% of the population had access to a basic hand washing facility with soap and water — people are particularly vulnerable. Inequality in our society means low income levels, lack of healthcare, and inadequate education remains a reality for many, and they are ill-equipped for the consequences of a pandemic. Governments and civil society organisations have to make careful, difficult decisions that balance the need to protect people’s health and their incomes.

To ensure those decisions have positive impacts, decision makers need data they can trust. In Kenya, Nigeria, and South Africa, that data is being provided by FinMark Trust and insight2impact (i2i) and their partners. Data for Ghana, Rwanda, Uganda and Zambia are being rolled out shortly. They are conducting telephone surveys to find out the impact covid-19 is having on people’s livelihoods — and they asked us to design and build a platform that makes the gathered insights more accessible and easier to use. …

About

Camellia Williams

Lead Writer at Vizzuality.

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