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January 2023

January – New Year’s Resolutions.
A big thing for me over the last couple of years – since COVID, has been my mental health. I guess starting my own business has been my way of taking control.  So, my New Year’s Resolution is to continue this journey and become more aware of what affects my mental health and how/why.  As such, the third Monday of January has been awarded the gloomy title of #BlueMonday.

Supposedly the date was "calculated" by using many factors, including: weather conditions (in the northern hemisphere it’s still in the dark depths of winter), debt level (the difference between debt accumulated over Christmas and our ability to pay – low salary over this time), time since Christmas, time since failing our new year’s resolutions, low motivational levels (due to heading back to work), and a feeling of an almost helpless need to take action.

Coastal environments have been shown to improve your health, body, & mind, and time next to the big ocean blue has been proven to improve your mental wellbeing.  Proximity to water – especially the sea – is associated with many positive measures of physical and mental wellbeing, from higher levels of vitamin D to better social relations.  

In 2022, the world’s oceans were the hottest ever recorded; demonstrating the profound and pervasive changes that human-caused emissions have made to the planet’s climate.

More than 90% of the excess heat trapped by greenhouse gas emissions is absorbed in the oceans.  Sea surface temperatures are a major influence on the world’s weather.  Hotter oceans help supercharge extreme weather, leading to more intense hurricanes and storms, as more moisture in the air brings more intense rainfall and flooding.  The warming water also expands, pushing up sea levels even further and endangering coastal communities.

The temperature of the oceans is far less affected by natural climate variability than the temperature of the atmosphere, making the oceans an undeniable indicator of global heating. 🌊💙


February 2023

February – Ephemerality.
Definition: from ephemeral [ɛˈfɛm(ə)rəl, e-fem-er-al] adjective. Lasting for a very short time:
 "fashions are ephemeral: new ones regularly drive out the old"; "a plant that grows, flowers, and dies in a few days"; "rainbows are inherently ephemeral".

According to science Global Heating & therefore Climate Change will result in more rainbows.  In the map pictured: red (and lighter) coloured areas will generate more rainbows, while blue (and darker) coloured areas will lose days with rainbows.


According to a recent study conducted by scientists (Carlson et al.) at the University of Hawai'i (UH) at Manoa, there will be more opportunities to observe rainbows as a result of Climate Change.  The authors of the study predict that by 2100, there will be net 5% more days with rainbows than there were at the start of the twenty-first century.  The biggest increases in rainbow occurrence will occur in Northern & Southern latitudes, and at very high elevations, where heating is projected to result in less snow and more rain.  The Mediterranean region, for example, is expected to have less rainfall due to climate change, which will result in fewer rainbow days.
Few studies have looked at how climate change might affect the aesthetic qualities of our environment, and no one has attempted to track rainbow occurrences, much less in the context of climate change.

A team made up of UH Manoa students looked over pictures shared on the social media site Flickr to find the answer to this question.  They identified rainbows by sorting through tens of thousands of images from around the globe that were tagged with the word "rainbow."  The researchers then used the georeferenced (photos with coordinates) rainbow photo locations.  Their analysis used maps of precipitation/rainfall, cloud cover, and sun angle to build a rainbow prediction model.  Finally, they used their model to forecast rainbow occurrences in the present and the future over land masses around the world.  
The model concluded that islands are rainbow hotspots.  Islands are the best places to see rainbows, their geography elevates the air during daily sea breezes, causing localised showers that are surrounded by clear skies that let the sunshine through and create magnificent rainbows.

The Hawaiian Islands, recently dubbed the "rainbow capital of the world" are predicted to experience a few more days with rainbows per year.   The authors did not go into detail about how variations in rainbow occurrence can impact people's quality of life.  However, rainbows are beautiful and have played a significant role in human culture throughout history and still.
Climate change will generate pervasive changes across all life on Earth.  Shifts in intangible parts of our environment – such as sound and light – are part of these changes.  In this case, the overall findings are encouraging – it seems people will have more opportunities to see rainbows under Climate Change. 
FYI: February is also, fittingly, the month we celebrate Pride in Aotearoa New Zealand.  As our Southern Hemisphere location means this is the height of summer.
Happy Pride 🏳️‍🌈🌈

Carlson, K. M., Mora, C., Xu, J., Setter, R. O., Harangody, M., Franklin, E. C., Kantar, M. B., Lucas, M., Menzo, Z. M., Spirandelli, D., Schanzenbach, D., Courtlandt Warr, C., Wong, A. E., & Businger, S. (2022). Global Rainbow Distribution under current and future climates. Global Environmental Change, 77, 102604.  

March 2023

March - March Much.
A species of imported fire ant was introduced into the United States from South America at the port of Mobile, Alabama.  The black imported fire ant, Solenopsis richteri Forel, arrived sometime around 1918.

Now, Gobal Heating & Climate Change is giving them another leg up, prompting state officials to worry about whether fire ants will be able to soon survive in higher elevations thought beyond the available habitat of the warm-loving insects...

The march of the Fire Ant across America shows a direct correlation with warmer average temperatures experienced in each county of the United States.

The maps shown in the video show in red the county under a Federal Quarantine Boundary (APHIS Plant Protection and Quarantine (PPQ)) and the year in which the quarantine was established.

April 2023


April – April Fools.

This 'underwater waterfall' near Le Morne Brabant, in the south of the island of Mauritius in the Indian Ocean (near Madagascar & Africa) has captured our imagination for centuries.  But actually, April Fools, it's not an 'underwater waterfall' at all; it's sediment and sand, swept out to sea from behind a series of reefs. 

However, there are underwater waterfalls occurring near the earths, southernmost, highest, driest, windiest, coldest, and iciest continent – Antarctica; 14 million square kilometres of ice at the end of the world.  And due to Global Heating and Climate Change these waterfalls and life as we know it will chnage.

In a recent scientific paper published in the prestigious journal Nature  on the 30th of March, researchers (Li, England, & Hogg et al.) projected the fate of Antarctic currents.  The team used a high-resolution computer model that could simulate high emissions, as well as the currents and changes in the world’s oceans over 50 years.  The currents begin their life near the frozen continent, as the sea ice forms in winter.  Sea ice does not contain salt, so this mineral becomes concentrated in the water below the ice.

Cold, salty, dense ‘Antarctic Bottom Water’ as its called, forms at four spots along the coast: about 250 trillion tonnes of liquid per year.  Being so dense, it sinks to the bottom of the ocean and forms a layer.  Sometimes the water is colder than 0°C, but is kept in a liquid state because of its high concentration of salt.  It’s also high in dissolved oxygen. Yet this layer still has further to fall: once it reaches the edge of the Antarctic continental shelf it cascades into deep basins – like a deep-sea waterfall tumbling into a pool.

From there, it feeds into deep ocean currents heading north.  One current hugs the east continental coast of Aotearoa, crosses the equator, and rises in the North Pacific.  When it rises, it brings its oxygen with it to the multitude of ocean creatures.

The current also pulls up important nutrients from the ocean floor, feeding marine plants – and everything great & small that eats them.

As the water rises, the Pacific current splits and turns southwards – feeding into a cycle that has been in a relatively stable state for thousands of years.

However, the very deep sea below 4,000m has warmed in recent years, according to measurements taken from ships.  With our ongoing greenhouse gas emissions, we’re changing that system.  Human-made emissions have heated the atmosphere by roughly 1.2°C.  Antarctic sea ice has diminished in recent decades and the ice sheets – which lock away vast amounts of water on land – are melting.

If the world continues to produce high levels of greenhouse gas, the dense and salty Antarctic Bottom Water would slow to “just a trickle” by 2050.  It’ll be replaced by something less dense and salty.

Consequently, the ocean depths in the Southern Hemisphere will warm – particularly from 2040.  The Pacific’s northbound current would lose nearly half its strength and could collapse altogether, the modelling found.  A collapse is likely to trigger more melting in Antarctica and could affect the amount of rain falling in the central Pacific Ocean.

The slowing supply of oxygen and nutrients would also hurt marine life and human communities.  Without nutrients, the plants of the marine world – such as tiny algae – would not grow.  With less oxygen, larger stretches of the ocean would become dead zones.


The abyssal ocean circulation is a key component of the global meridional overturning circulation, cycling heat, carbon, oxygen, and nutrients throughout the world ocean.  The strongest historical trend observed in the abyssal ocean is warming at high southern latitudes, but it is unclear what processes have driven this warming and whether this warming is linked to a slowdown in the ocean's overturning circulation.  Future change remains uncertain, with the latest coordinated climate model projections not accounting for dynamic ice-sheet melt.  This study (Li, England, & Hogg et al.) used a transient forced ocean–sea-ice model to show that under a high-emissions scenario, abyssal warming is set to accelerate over the next 30 years.  The meltwater input around Antarctica drives a contraction of Antarctic Bottom Water (AABW), opening a pathway that allows warm Circumpolar Deep Water greater access to the continental shelf.  This has implications for global ocean biogeochemistry and climate that could last for centuries.

Li, Q., England, M.H., Hogg, A.M., Rintoul, S.R., Morrison, A.K. (2023). Abyssal ocean overturning slowdown and warming driven by Antarctic meltwater. Nature 615, 841–847.

May 2023

May - In a galaxy not so far away...  How 'bout this galaxy, this solar system - that's not too far away at all...

May the 4th be with you.
Since February 18, 2021 (784 sols ago) - (sol = a martian day) Perseverance has been exploring the Jezero Crater.
NASA - National Aeronautics and Space Administration chose the Jezero Crater as the landing site for the Perseverance rover as scientists believe the area was once flooded with water and was home to an ancient river delta.

It's been exploring the area with its colleague, a martian helicopter named Ingenuity.
Ingenuity became the first aircraft to achieve powered, controlled flight on another planet, a feat that's been called a "Wright Brothers moment"
Completing 51 flights or 91.4 flying minutes, covering 7.3 miles (11.7 km), and reaching altitudes as high as 59.1 ft (18.0 m)
It's successfully flying in the extremely thin Martian atmosphere, previewing areas of Mars of possible interest for the Perseverance rover to explore. And is paving the way for future aerial explorers at Mars and, potentially, other space destinations.

The animated fly over shows the paths that Perseverance has explored around the Jezero Crater.


August 2023

August - Old School.

Recently I’ve learnt the old school, original meaning behind a word I hadn’t given much thought – Orientate. “Orientate the map…”

‘Orientated’ means ‘east at the top’, hence the term ‘Orient’.  The term has its origins in “oriens,” the Latin word for “east.”
late Middle English: via Old French from Latin orient – ‘rising or east’, from oriri ‘to rise’

Orientated – British; Oriented – American 
Also: Orienting, Orienteering 
to build (a church or temple) with the longitudinal axis pointing eastward and the chief altar at the eastern end. "Situated in or belonging to the east – oriental"; "orient kings"; (of the sun, daylight, etc.) rising; "the orient moon"

So here's a map with Aotearoa New Zealand facing East.

September 2023

September - Spring/Autumn (Fall)

Te Wiki o te Reo Māori & Spring. The Southern Hemisphere distribution of Sophora sect. Edwardsia.

This week is also Te Wiki o te Reo Māori - Māori language week. Kōanga is the Māori word for spring (September to November). It includes the word ‘kō’, a digging implement: spring is the time to dig the soil.

A funny saying: ‘Takē Kōanga, whakapiri Ngahuru’ translates to "absent at planting time, close by at harvest" - refers to people who disappear during the hard work of planting in spring, but show up when food is abundant at the autumn harvest.

Light spring rain showers are known as ‘ua kōwhai’ or kōwhai showers, referring to the September bloom of yellow flowers on the kōwhai tree (Sophora sp.).

Sophora sect. Edwardsia is a group of 19 species of small trees or shrubs mostly found around the Southern Hemisphere oceans. The bloom of the kōwhai tree heralds the beginning of spring in Aotearoa New Zealand. Aotearoa is the global hotspot with eight species of kōwhai.

A further eight species occur on islands in the Pacific – one species is found on Réunion Island in the Indian Ocean and two in Chile (one of which also occurs on Gough Island in the Atlantic Ocean).

This map shows the geographic location of these plants across the southern hemisphere. The distribution of kōwhai and its close relatives throughout the Southern Hemisphere has intrigued scientists, including Charles Darwin, for over 150 years.

Charles Darwin used Sophora sect. Edwardsia to support his idea that the similarity of Aotearoa New Zealand and South American plants resulted from seed dispersal across oceans, suggesting that Sophora seeds may have floated between Aotearoa New Zealand and Chile.

Until then, other scientists thought that the separate landmasses must have been connected by landbridges to explain the distributions of similar species.

Previous DNA research supported Darwin’s claim by showing that the species are very closely related and only separated from each other within the last few million years. However, that study was not able to determine a family tree for the group because the DNA sequences they examined were mostly identical among the species.

A new study (Shepard & Heenan) used DNA regions that were more variable, revealing 20 different DNA sequence variants. Interestingly, several of these DNA sequence variants are shared between Aotearoa New Zealand and South American Sophora species.

This suggests that there have been a number of seed dispersal events between Aotearoa New Zealand and South America after the species separated. Ocean currents are known to link the two regions and probably assisted this seed dispersal, with kōwhai seeds able to float and germinate after being in seawater.

In contrast, many of the Pacific and Indian Ocean island species had unique DNA variants. This suggests that the Sophora on each island or island group has been isolated for long enough that DNA differences have evolved.

Another finding from the study is that toromiro (Sophora toromiro) from Rapanui/Easter Island (which is extinct in the wild) appears more closely related to Aotearoa New Zealand kōwhai than the geographically closer South American species.


October 2023

My home, my turangawaewae – standing place (tūranga) and feet (waewae); (often translated as 'a place to stand'); is the little village of Mamaku on State Highway 5 between Rotorua and Matamata.

This is where our my family has farmed sheep, beef, & more recently deer for over 100 years (the farm pictured below, as 3D mapped in Aerialod).
Here, one of the things we're known for is the Ignimbrite Tors (rock pillars) visible from the state highway as you're driving past. These were created ~250,000 years ago by the volcanic eruption of the Rotorua Caldera, now in filled with Lake Rotorua.

However, an old Te Arawa legend tells a different story:
Long ago... "the Patupaiarehe [fairy-like beings who were seldom seen] were signing and dancing in the sunshine, they heard their Mamaku lookout call to them. He was sitting on a high point of land called Rangihakahaka and he had seen the tops of some of the trees shaking.

He knew it was not the wind as it was a calm day. It must have been the Tipua! [ugly bad-tempered, mean, giants from the Kaimai mountains - taller than the largest Moa and almost as strong.]

The Patuapaiarehe gathered together and asked their wise old leader; whose name was Tongakohu, what they should do.
Tongakohu was not only a wise and good leader of the Patupaiarehe but he was also a tohunga, a teacher who was an expert in magic spells.
He went to the top of Ngongotaha mountain, to a place called Te tūāhu-a-te-Atua. There he lit a small fire and began to repeat an ancient magic spell he had learned when he was very young. He wasn't sure if it would work but he tried very hard - harder than he had ever done before.
Down below the mountain, in the thick forest near Mamaku, the warriors of the Tipua were creeping towards Rotorua. Some of them had even reached Tarukenga, near the base of the mountain. Their chief wanted them to go faster but they all felt tired and their feet seemed too heavy to lift. They just wanted to stand still and rest. Even their chief now decided he would rest for a while.

But the longer they stood still the wearier they became. Soon they couldn't move their feet or lift their arms above their heads. Their skin was getting stiff and cracking. Suddenly they knew what was happening...

They were gradually being turned to stone by the Patupaiarehe leader's magic spell.
The Tipua turned into stone giants that very day. Thousands of years ago. They are still there today, hidden by the thick Mamaku forest or standing in paddocks close to the main road.

Mostly it is only their heads and shoulders you can see now because they have been there so long that dust, leaves and grass have almost covered them up.
Some people say that when it is very cold or very hot you can sometimes hear the ancient rock warriors groaning, probably because they are so uncomfortable standing in the one place for so long.

November 2023

November – Map-ception.

I've struggled with this theme all month long. Which is why I'm posting November in December (you're not loosing track of time - although it it hard to believe it's Christmas so soon...)

I did have a game plan: wait until November's over and conjoin the 30 Day Map Challenge in November celebrating GIS day (on the 16th Nov) with the mapamonth theme of Map-ception; (I was told it's against the rules of the 30 day map challenge to post themed maps before their day...) 🗺️

So the game is to spot how many themes are involved in this map... (theme-ception, if you will).

The 30 Day Map Challenge themes are (in order):
• Points;  • Lines;  • Polygons;  • A bad map;  • Analog Map;  • Asia;  • Navigation;  • Africa;  • Hexagons;  • North America;  • Retro; 

• South America;  • Choropleth;  • Europe;  • Open Street Map;  • Oceania;  • Flow;  • Atmosphere;  • 5 minute map;  • Outdoors; 

• Raster;  • North is not always up;  • 3D;  • Black & White;  • Antarctica;  • Minimal;  • Dot;  • Is this a chart or a map?;  • Population; 

• “my favourite”

Here's a hint: one 'my favourite' things to do at the moment is to make maps about Climate Change & what better occasion to do it than the start of COP28 in Dubai (where Aotearoa New Zealand is quite rightly coping flack for the new governments stance on New Oil and Gas drilling) 🛢️

Aotearoa New Zealand currently leads the world with 5,764 tCO2 Cumulative per capita emissions, from 1850 til 2021 (~1,000 tonnes ahead of the 2nd placed Canada); & 13th worldwide in 2021 with 962 tCO2 Cumulative emissions per population.

First posted to LinkedIn last week:


December = Looking back on 2023 👀

The year that was, 2023: Earth’s hottest 12-month streak since records began in the 1800’s. 🥵

"Key Concepts:
• Earth just recorded its hottest 12-month streak (November 2022-October 2023).
• Analysis using Climate Central’s Climate Shift Index shows how human-caused climate change influenced heat over the last 12 months in 175 countries and 920 cities.
• Over that time, 90% of people worldwide (and 49% in the U.S.) experienced at least 10 days of temperatures very strongly influenced by climate change.
• One-in-four people on Earth faced extreme, persistent, and dangerous heat waves driven by carbon pollution.
• Out of 700 largest cities, Houston, Texas experienced the longest streak of extreme heat made more likely by carbon pollution: 22 days.”

Climate Change & Global Heating have taken hold "This year, Earth had its hottest Northern Hemisphere summer and hottest month (July) ever recorded.
The rising frequency and intensity of extreme heat across the U.S. and around the globe is consistent with well-established science on the consequences of carbon pollution — mainly from burning [Fossil Fuels] coal, oil, and natural gas. 
Ahead of global climate negotiations [earlier this month], Climate Central analyzed the fingerprints of climate change on air temperatures and extreme heat waves over the past 12 months (November 1, 2022 to October 31, 2023).
Five important natural thresholds already risk being crossed, according to the Global Tipping Points report, and three more may be reached in the 2030s if the world heats 1.5°C (2.7°F) above pre-industrial temperatures. 🌡️
Triggering these planetary shifts will not cause temperatures to spiral out of control in the coming centuries but will unleash dangerous and sweeping damage to people and nature that cannot be undone.

“Tipping points in the Earth system pose threats of a magnitude never faced by humanity,” said Tim Lenton, from the University of Exeter’s Global Systems Institute. “They can trigger devastating domino effects, including the loss of whole ecosystems and capacity to grow staple crops, with societal impacts including mass displacement, political instability and financial collapse.”

COP28 resulted in what some refer to as a 'Win' (either for the Planet or for the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), depending on how you look at it).
The major sticking point resulted in the final COP28 text calling on the parties (countries) to be: “Transitioning away from fossil fuels in energy systems, in a just, orderly and equitable manner, accelerating action in this critical decade, so as to achieve net zero by 2050 in keeping with the science” instead of "Phase Out" Fossil Fuels. 🙄🛢️

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