Want to take a road trip? After gazing at this stunning new map from geospatial scientist Robbi Bishop-Taylor, we can't help feeling a bit of wanderlust.
Bishop-Taylor, a doctoral student studying geography and spatial analysis at the University of New South Wales, Sydney in Australia, created this map of the United States' 8 million miles of roads, streets and highways from a myriad of open-source online data sets. Posting on Reddit, he broke down the map:
- 50,000 miles of interstates (bright yellow)
- 170,000 miles of other highways (pink-orange)
- 230,000 miles of collectors/minor arterials (red-pink)
- 2.8 million miles of local urban roads (purple)
- 2.6 million miles of long rural roads/trails (dark purple)
- 2.1 million miles of short rural roads/trails (dark blue)
All told, tackling the road trip to end all road trips and covering every mile listed above would take 28 years, driving 12 hours a day at 65 mph. (But something tells me this Northeast corridor would considerably slow your progress.)
Bishop-Taylor's map of U.S. roads is part of a collection of maps showing the tendril-like invasion of the automobile across countries like India, Japan and Canada. The image above shows how Australia's Outback has remained largely free of penetration by modern-day roads.
Besides roads, Bishop-Taylor has also been fascinated with the ways that rivers, streams, creeks and other waterways make up our landscape. This map of Europe's 1.35 million streams was created with data freely available from the European Environmental Agency Catchments and Rivers Network System spatial vector data sets.
The image above shows the interconnected waterways surrounding Lake Manicouagan in Central Quebec, Canada. Scientists believe the lake was formed some 214 million years ago, after a 3.1-mile wide asteroid slammed into the region. It's the sixth-largest confirmed impact crater known on Earth.
In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, Bishop-Taylor said that until recently, creating maps with this measure of detail was largely impossible. "We’re at a point now where computer processing power has increased so much that we can process immense geographic data sets and study the natural world in ways we’ve never been able to before," he said.
Bishop-Taylor, who offers high-resolution downloads of his maps through his Earth Art Australia Etsy shop, also told the WSJ that he hopes his work inspires others to explore the free mapping resources available online.
"Anyone with a computer can download data sets for their local area and start to explore," he said. "It’s pretty likely you’ll discover some incredible natural structures and patterns that very few people have looked at in detail before."