Due to the many changes on various bodies of water and land areas, cartographers are forced to modify their maps. Moreover, Atlas has released its new edition last Sept. 3 which shows the new face of the earth. Mick Asworth, the editor-in-chief of the atlas, mentioned that disasters will be unfolding before us and that in the near future, it is possible that famous geographical features will disappear forever. What has caused these changes to take place?
Variations of the earth’s global or regional climate over a period of time and human activities are said to be the contributing factors of these geographical changes. Human activities such as irrigation projects are said to have added to the increasing temperature of the earth. An example of which is Central Valley California’s irrigation. It was a project which turned the place from a desert to a farmland. According to John Cristy, Director of the Earth System Science Center at The University of Alabama in Huntsville, since 1910, temperature has actually cooled over the six counties in the area during daytime but at nighttime, the temperature has risen for about 5.5 degrees Fahrenheit (3.0 Celsius). He explained that this is because the irrigated land now allows more evaporation to take place resulting to more water vapor in the air which is a powerful greenhouse gas. This gives cooler daytime temperature while it becomes warmer at night since too much water vapor in the air can trap more heat rising from the wet soil.
The geographical changes are also evident on the shrinking of seas and lakes as well as islands that disappeared and some are at a threat of being wiped out on the map. One of the areas affected is The Aral Sea in Central Asia which has shrunk by 75 percent since 1967. Another one is The Dead Sea which is now 25 meters lower than it was 50 years ago. Some islands near India have already vanished and some Pacific islands are also slowly disappearing due to the rising sea levels. These are only some of the changes that map-makers are taking into consideration as they developed the new atlas. If these geographical changes continue to take place, what will the earth look like many years from now? Are there ways to stop this worldwide phenomenon?
(Image Credit: The Times Comprehensive Atlas of the World)