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Posted by on Feb 7, 2014 in Featured Maps, R Spatial, Slideshow, Visualisation | 6 comments

Stunning Maps of World Topography


Robin Edwards, a researcher at UCL CASA, has created these stunning topographic maps using the high resolution elevation data provided by the British Oceanographic Data Centre. The transitions from black (high areas) to blue (low areas) give the maps a slightly ethereal appearance to dramatic effect.

europeAll but the highest areas of Europe appear to blend into the sea, and there is a loss in the sense of scale that makes the Pacific ranges look like small water channels in a shallow sea.


The best thing about these graphics (and the main reason I have featured them here) is that they were completely produced using the R software program with just a 3 lines of code! Click here to see how Robin did it.



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  1. Yeah, it looks good, but thats just a DEM color-ramped from blue to black… don’t get me wrong… I also have printed on of those to put an eyecatcher on the wall above my desktop, but from the cartographic point of view thats just 2 clicks.

    • Well now, George, take those maps of yours down and share them.

  2. The article only mentions that it is “stunning” which it is, not Cartographically complex..

    • That’s true, but the article makes a point of the simplicity of using R here (“…just 3 lines of code!” – actually more if you read the article, plus familiarity with R).

      I think that’s what George is referring to, and I agree. It’s likely more straightforward to do this in a number of other programs, and iterating might be faster as well. Need to see if I can recreate the effect in NSD to test though.

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  1. Data Viz News [43] | Visual Loop - […] Stunning Maps of World Topography | […]

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