Mapping Climate Change


Mapping applications represent an important and promising tool for scientists, activists and citizens concerned about the health of our planet. Climate change affects diverse communities and ecosystems all over the world. Digital maps contain the unique ability to geographically pinpoint instances of climate change based on scientific measures, while simultaneously engaging local populations in the effort to raise awareness about the devastating effects of global warming.

By combining the scientific and human elements of climate change in an interactive map, users are able to connect with the application on a much deeper level. They can zoom in on any region of the world, hear testimonials about how livelihoods have been impacted by climate change, watch a video produced by a local NGO or an ordinary citizen, get involved by connecting to community, national or international resources, or document climate change in their own location, among many other possibilities. Interactive maps like this are already being used to raise awareness and stimulate action. They could additionally serve to connect communities affected by climate change to share experiences and adaptive strategies.

This wiki provides an entryway for those interested in climate mapping applications by surveying the field of what's happening in this arena, examining a few case studies of existing mapping applications, and offering a lens through which media professionals, activists and/or the scientific community should look before applying a mapping project to a specific region of the developing world.

New to the world of mapping applications? Perhaps the best way to understand the awesome potential of such technologies in the struggle against climate change is to view climate mapping within the larger context of "crisis mapping." Crisis mapping is a relatively new field, which encompasses many of the same uses, technologies, and best practices that are being utilized in the unique challenge of mapping climate change. Crisis mapping can include anything from mapping violent conflict, to natural disasters, to the spread of diseases. Often it deals with emerging threats and picking out trends and patterns. Because climate change is invisible in and of itself, it is the effects of climate change which need to be illustrated and analyzed, and those effects are often in the form of crises, making the application of crisis mapping protocol all the more relevant to climate mapping. The following video created by Patrick Meier during a Harvard Humanitarian Initiative 2-year program, provides a gateway into the burgeoning field of crisis mapping as a whole, highlighting recent developments, best practices, and implications for the future.

For more information on the field of crisis mapping and to get in contact with experts involved in every aspect of crisis mapping and early warning systems, click here to visit the International Network of Crisis Mappers. There you will find additional tools, resources, and videos on all things crisis-mapping related, including videos from the first ever International Conference of Crisis Mapping held in October 2009. Also visit Patrick Meier's blog for more information on the history of the field, as well as recent research and developments.

We are members of the class "New Media and Development Communications" taught by Professor Anne Nelson at Columbia University's School of International and Public Affairs in the fall semester of 2009. Group members:
Jillian Buckley
Michelle Cordray
Amanda Schreier
Monika Sharma
Lena Shemel

globe_NASA.jpgSource: NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center



Application Analysis

We have analyzed several mapping applications to determine their use, impact and applicability.


Additional Mapping Projects

Hundreds of mapping projects exist online, showing a high level of public interest on this issue. We have amassed these projects in an effort to streamline the available resources and improve their effectiveness.



Additional resources regarding climate change, mapping, crowdsourcing and environmental justice.


Best Practices

Our recommendations as determined through our analysis of existing mapping applications.


Focus Africa

A look at current and potential mapping projects in Africa.

Areas in Need

Potential applications of best practices to selected countries.