5 maps that make complicated topics easy to understand

10 Aug 2015

The internet is awash with clever ideas, an abundance of datasets and swathes of creative minds. When you combine these elements with maps, you often discover some excellent videos portraying complicated concepts in remarkably simple terms.

So today we’re bringing five fine examples of maps made easy.

First up is the inspiration of this piece, National Geographic’s ice sheet gif, which shows how much the northern ice sheets are receding.

Global warming has sped up the heating of the planet to such a degree that rising sea temperatures have destroyed Arctic ice, with a loss of 12pc each decade since the 1970s.

That, however, pales in comparison to what has happened in the last nine years, as this map – which covers 1999 to 2014 – clearly shows.

Map global warming | cool maps

“You hear reports all the time in the media about this,” said National Geographic’s Juan José Valdés. “Until you have a hard-copy map in your hand, the message doesn’t really hit home.”


World Battleground: 1000 Years of War

Secondly, we look at a video we found on Reddit a while back, which shows wars across the globe since 1000AD.

It’s not easy to see the names of each war or battle but, if anything, that is even more instructive of the frequency of our fights.


Maps of War: Religion

Up next is along the same theme of war, but with the added extra of religion and easily viewable colours.

This is pretty straightforward, showing the spread of today’s dominant religions around the world. Thousands of years explained in just 90 seconds – just click to view the interactive map in full.

Maps of War – Religion


Perpetual Ocean by NASA

This visually appealing world map shows the water flows on Earth. There are other instructive videos covering things like rain, wind and heat around the world, but this, by NASA, is by far the best.


Earth 100 Million Years From Now

Lastly, here’s the makeup of our continents, where they came from, and how they might look in the future.

Main image, via Shutterstock

Gordon Hunt was a journalist with Silicon Republic