VFF: Mapping Surface Coal Mining in Appalachia and Visualizing Physically Giant Spatial Data
In mid-2018, I and my colleagues at Duke, SkyTruth, and Appalachian Voices published a novel dataset: the yearly spatial extent of surface coal mining in the Central Appalachian region of the United States from 1985 through 2015. In this presentation, I will briefly review our methods and results of this research. But I will spend more time to explore a unique problem we ran into when writing the paper: how to visualize a physically giant but non-congruous spatial dataset? Through our research, we found over 2900 km^2 of land had been mined during this time period; while simply communicating that number is easy, visualizing it in a meaningful, understandable way proved challenging. I will discuss how we approached this problem and perhaps even solicit your ideas for how you would have visually communicated these data.