A Growing Database of Scientific Cartography

  1. The Arctic Bioregion: Arctic Ice projected regression with territorial claims and traditional Northwest and Northeast Passages.

  2. Louisiana Brownfields. Relief map of Louisiana with 11 selected EPA Superfund sites, or "brownfields."

OUR DATABASE of Science Maps (examples below) is available to professors and teachers upon request. Please contact Geoffrey Golson at golsonmedia@gmail.com to receive pdf files. The number of maps is growing every week, so please check back to see what's new as we expand the database with maps covering health, sociology, political science, economics, and other social sciences. Below are maps and expanded captions for the following topics in science:

The Arctic Bioregion

Numbers and locations on map key to the text below.

NORTHERN CLIMES

The Artic Bioregion spans approximately six percent of the planet’s surface, encompassing the most northern part of our globe. This region is home to a unique assortment of cultures, ecosystems, natural resources, and climatic changes. Canada, Denmark, Norway, the United States, and Russia have claimed much of the land, sea, and underwater resources in the Arctic. However, the North Pole and the area surrounding the region is known as “unclaimed territory” (1 on the map above) and due to international law cannot be claimed by any nation. Because there are many natural resources under the Arctic waters and ice, the region s regulated by the United Nation’s International Seabed Authority.

 

Organizations such as the Artic Council, are working to study biodiversity and the ways that climate change is effecting this region. The Artic Council was formed from the Ottawa Declaration, signed in 1996 to encourage cooperation amongst nations and non-governmental organizations working in the region. Shifts in this region, particularly in the size and location of ice, have led to international debates regarding land claims, use of land and sea resources, and protection against future conflicts. Some of these disagreements were resolved at the Fairbanks Declaration, signed in 2017, while others still remain contentious.

 

HISTORIC USE

Two shipping passages – the Northeast Passage and the Northwest Passage have historically allowed sailors and cargo to move between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. The passages were named by the direction that ships travel (Northeast going from Atlantic to Pacific and Northwest going from Pacific to Atlantic). Since at least the 1600s, these routes have connected nations such as Canada, the United States, Norway, and Russia, allowing the movement of goods, but also the movement of ideas, people, and cultures. In addition to shipping, cities such as Tromsø (2) have long been historic centers of hunting, trade, and commerce. Although these shipping routes were closed or were unused during the Cold War, after 1997 they have again become popular. For example, Murmansk, Russia, (3) is now linked across the “Arctic Bridge,” a waterway that leads to Canada, potentially allowing for trade between both countries. These modern routes are governed by the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea and the Arctic Council, as well as local laws that apply to vessels passing through waters claimed by independent countries. 

 

CONTEMPORARY COMMUNITIES

A diversity of communities live and work in the Arctic. Some of these, such as the Sami, are reindeer herders. They travel throughout the Lapland region (4) of Finland, Sweden, and Norway. Other communities, such as the Shishmaref who live in Alaska (5), have historically hunted Arctic animals. As the climate changes they have had to move to new hunting grounds and find new ways to support their communities. 

 

ICE MELT

Much of the Artic bioregion is covered in ice, which grows and shrinks annually, depending on the season, with the least amount of ice usually in July. Scientists measure this ice using indicators such as how long a piece of ice has been located in one location, how far the ice has expanded in a year, and how much ice has melted in a year. They also measure driftwood deposits, which help scientists to track the ways that ice has changed over long periods of time. These studies help scientists to understand events such as the melting of the Greenland Ice Sheet (6), a region of 50,000 square kilometers of ice. Since 1979 scientists have marked a 30 percent decline in the Greenland Ice Sheet.

 

ENVIRONMENTAL CONSEQUENCES

The World Wildlife Foundation reports that the Arctic is experiencing more climate change than other parts of the world. It is expected that by 2100 the worldwide sea level will rise by one meter due to melting Arctic ice. By 2050 it is expected that the Arctic’s  so-called Last Ice Area will be in Canada (7) and Greenland (8). This will be the last location where summer sea ice will exist. Scientists are carefully tracking the Last Ice Area, as well as permafrost regions such as the Siberian Tundra (9). Both regions are critical to the livelihoods of polar bears, musk ox, sharks, and narwhals that live in the Arctic Bioregion. 

 

REFERENCES

Buixadé Farré, Albert, et al. (2014) "Commercial Arctic shipping through the Northeast Passage: routes,

     resources, governance, technology, and infrastructure." Polar Geography 37.4: 298-324.

Kendrick, A. (2013) "Canadian Inuit sustainable use and management of Arctic species." International

     journal of environmental studies 70.3: 414-428.

National Snow & Ice Data Center. (2017) Artic Sea ice News & Analysis.

     http://nsidc.org/arcticseaicenews/

World Wildlife Foundation. (2017). The Last Ice Area. http://www.wwf.ca/conservation/arctic/lia/

Essay by Allison Hahn, Ph.D.

Louisiana Brownfields

Numbers and locations on map key to the text below.

HAZARDOUS STORAGE

Brownfield is the term used by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to describe land that has been severely contaminated or polluted. This pollution may have been caused by industrial factories, improper disposal of industrial waste, spills, or storms that have disrupted once safe pollution storage. Often these lands are labeled as hazardous and cannot be used or redeveloped until a massive cleanup protocol occurred. 

 

SUPERFUND SITES

The EPA has targeted specific brownfields for cleanup around the United States and its territories, known as “superfund sites.” Funding for superfund cleanup was signed into law by President Jimmy Carter in 1980 and is applied to some of the most severely polluted locations in the country. When the EPA labels a location as a superfund site, the areas is able to access specific funding, planning, and support that is not otherwise available for land restoration. The EPA divides the United States into a number of regions and addresses Brownfields in each location. Louisiana is in Region 6, along with New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, and Arkansas. This clustering allows the government to monitor environmental changes and risks that often do not stop at state lines. Throughout the region, the government conducts samples of air, water, and soil, locates lands needing cleanup, and designs new cleanup projects. 

 

Some restored lands become parks; other locations are used for housing or reused for cleaner enterprises. For example, in Shreveport Green, Louisiana (1 on the map above), the Sproull property had been polluted by a paint factory and the use of asbestos in local building construction. Through a Brownfields Cleanup Grant, the land has been cleared and redesigned for use as a biomedical research facility. Other factories, such as the wood-treating American Creosote Works, in Winnfield (2), have produced brownfields due to the abandonment of industrial pits and containers. While the state of Louisiana attempted to prevent pollution at the Creosote Works site by warning the company, by 1985 the site was abandoned, leaving many drums of waste material on the property that eventually spilled and seeped into the ground and polluted surface water supplies with contaminants such as anthracene, flourene, and pyrene. Industrial pollution has also occurred from abandoned factories, such as the Delatte Metals brownfield in Tangipahoa Parish (3), which once produced lead-acid batteries, and after the factory was abandoned, leaked battery acid into the groundwater and soil. 

 

CREOSOTE POLLUTION

Some sites will take many years to clean up, while others have been classified as “short term protective sties” meaning that specific actions can be quickly taken to produce long-term results. At the Bayou Bonfouca Slidell Site (4) these actions include restricting the use of groundwater during cleanup. This remediation is necessary to clean a one-mile piece of land, with soil and water that was polluted when a fire in 1972 ruptured storage tanks of creosote. This toxic chemical was used as a preservative or to preserve wood that might otherwise rot, such as wood used in shipbuilding. Pollution from creosote is also to blame at the Central Wood Preserving Company brownfield in Slaughter (5), and the Colonial Creosote site in Bogalusa (6)

 

HURRICANES AND RE-EMERGING POLLUTION

Cleanup in Louisiana is not restricted to problems caused by creosote. The largest brownfield in Louisiana is located in New Orleans (7) and became a crisis after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita struck the area in 2005. The 95-acre site, known as the Agriculture Street Landfill, was used as a city landfill between the early 1900s and 1950s. It was then closed and redeveloped in the 1970s, reopening for the building of public and private housing, along with schools and community centers. Local residents frequently complained to the EPA that trash would emerge from the old dump, and that pollution such as lead exposure was causing health problems. The EPA monitored these problems and worked to clean some parts of the Agriculture Street Landfill. However, these cleanup efforts were pushed back after the 2005 hurricanes. Water that surged through the former landfill redistributed polluting metals, toxins, and trash deposits. As a result, the area has been fenced off since 2010 and today remains a brownfield in need of cleanup and remediation.

 

LEAKAGE SOURCES

Other sites in Louisiana, such as the Bayou Sorrell (8) site, are also the result of landfills. In the case of Bayou Sorrell, hazardous waste deposited between 1977 and 1979 is currently leaking out of sludge pits and waste ponds, resulting in contamination of land and water. While the Bayou Sorrell site began as a landfill, other sites were first used for construction. In Sorrento (9), the Clebe Reber Brownfield was created in 1970 during a highway-building project. Pits dug for the highway were later used to dispose of industrial waste, which resulted in pollution. Additionally, the D.L. Mud Inc. brownfield in Abbeville (10) was originally used to drill mud, but was later used to store both raw materials and waste substances, resulting in the leaching of hazardous chemicals into the soil. Pollution can also occur from recycling, as resulted at the Combustion, Inc. brownfield site in Denham Springs (11). Here, waste oil recycling operations between the 1960s and 1980s did allow the corporation to reclaim and reuse oil, but also resulted in contamination of soil and water. 

There are many additional Brownfields and Superfund sites in Louisiana, across District 6, and throughout the United States. 

 

REFERENCES

Bullard, R. D., and Johnson, G.S. (2000). "Environmentalism and public policy: Environmental justice:

     Grassroots activism and its impact on public policy decision making." Journal of Social Issues

     56.3: 555-578.

Eckerd, A. and Heidelberg, R.L. (2015). "Public incentives, market motivations, and contaminated properties: New public

     management and brownfield liability reform." Public Administration Review 75.2: 252-261.

EPA (2017). Cleanups in Louisiana. https://www.epa.gov/la/cleanups-louisiana#sites

Nola.com (2017). Agriculture Street Landfill. https://topics.nola.com/tag/agriculture%20street%20landfill

Williams, Edith M., et al. (2016). "A Case Study of Community Involvement Influence on Policy Decisions: Victories of a

     Community-Based Participatory Research Partnership." International journal of environmental research and public

     health 13.5: 515.

Essay by Allison Hahn, Ph.D.

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