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Sunday, April 18, 2010

Mapping reaction to an unpronounceable natural disaster

Categories: Environmental Hazards
Having a look at the Eyjafjallajokull volcanic eruption in Iceland that's been all over the news of late. I don't know what opportunities I'll get to use this tomorrow, but hopefully at some point this week, I'll be able to spend some time looking at it in a little detail with a class. My first awareness of the chaos caused was through updates on twitter from the people I follow, so I thought it would be worth having a look at who was tweeting, what they were saying and where they were. Here is a map that I created on umapper to show responses. It's a bit fiddly as you can't see clusters unless you zoom, which is what I was looking for. It would have showed the pattern of a huge concentration in Western Europe, petering out the further east you go, along with quite a high volume in North America.

I thought it would be interesting to show these tweets in relation to active volcanoes using the layers in Google Earth and think about why so many of them are occurring away from the disaster zone. I then had a look at the ash cloud on a visual from NASA via Google Earth blog. I thought this could overlay the tweet map, which I've saved as a kml file. The worst of the cloud looks like this:
I'm sure that quite a lot of discussion about these three sources could be prompted- why we are in the path of the ash, who has been affected most, how it has affected individuals in the class, some of whom may be absent etc? This ties in to an idea from Alan Parkinson expressed earlier today. The one thing that seems to be missing in our coverage or exposure to events is a local perspective. There is an excellent narrative on here from Ian Hardie via Val Vannet about four posts down in the forum. This shows the event to be neither new, nor all about ash on cars, surreal sunsets, plane-free skies and people stranded in airports. So much information could be gained from this about the natural phenomena of volcanoes and the impact on people and landscape (although I would not use the piece in its entirety). Great way to bring literacy across learning into the lesson too e.g. x pieces of evidence/ language used to suggest that the author felt in danger.


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