Alison DeGraff Ollivierre – September
Tell us about yourself.
I’m a cartographer who works full time at National Geographic Maps, part-time doing freelance cartography/GIS work as Tombolo Maps & Design, and part-time for the NGO BirdsCaribbean. I’m from Vermont, have been living in the Eastern Caribbean on and off for the past six years, and currently live in Colorado. I love making maps and living abroad, and my primary topic of research for the past seven years has been participatory mapping, with a focus on its use in Caribbean small island developing states, particularly in relation to climate change, for the past six years.
Tell us the story behind your map (what inspired you to make it, what did you learn while making it, or any other aspects of the map or its creation you would like people to know).
When I was going through a stint of less cartographically-exciting freelance work last year, I started doing a map-a-day (inspired by Stephen Smith’s tile-a-day project) where I made quick, fun, daily snapshot maps that explored less commonly used fonts, colors, and projections with whatever exciting data I could get my hands on. I found NOAA’s climatic data center to be a jackpot for interesting data, and decided to map hurricane tracks across the Atlantic. Since I grew up in Vermont, I had not experienced hurricanes before moving to the Eastern Caribbean. The first big storm that passed through after I moved to St. Vincent and the Grenadines in 2011 was Hurricane Irene, which passed north of our island (just dumping a bit more rain than usual) and then proceeded to swing all the way up the coast to pummel Vermont. Nothing like a little geographic irony to inspire a map!
Tell us about the tools, data, etc., you used to make the map.
This map was made with NOAA’s national weather data and Esri country boundaries in ArcGIS and Adobe Illustrator. I started by converting the KMLs into shapefiles and selecting out the years that corresponded for both the Atlantic and Pacific hurricane seasons (there was twice as much data for the Atlantic hurricane seasons), leaving me with the 1930s-1980s. I then completed the cartographic design work in AI, including the graphic effects on the continents and oceans, and the visualization of the hurricane tracks.