‘Memorable’ year (for mapping too)
To quote many a commercial from 2020, this year has been “different” and “unprecedented” for all of us. With the Covid-19 pandemic changing our lives, it would be remiss to not mention the impact it has had on us and thank the tireless work key workers have done to protect and take care of us. Data and mapping has come into its own during this time, helping to track the spread of the pandemic, and where possible, to help plan and protect us. Data and mapping has also been vital to perhaps the other two major news headlines – the Black Lives Matter movement and the United States Presidential election.
On a personal level it has been memorable too – I emigrated to the United States from the UK on the last possible day before the travel ban, as well as later getting married. Hence it has been a busy year, and while I may yet provide some humble contributions these major topics, I feel I have not had the resources to do them justice. But nonetheless, while Christmas/Holidays may also be “different” for most of us, it is at least some form of constant. So, I’ve decided to have some mapping fun at the end of a “challenging” year and answer the question which is everyone is asking…
How quickly could Santa Claus travel the world if he had a Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird (top speed 3500kph)?
We firstly need to make a few considerations. Firstly this analysis explores how long it could theoretically take to get somewhere if he had access to the world’s fastest jet – not and to be able to visit every house and deliver presents. This is beyond the scope of this analysis (and probably the laws of thermodynamics). However, it is the 21st Century, so I would expect Santa Claus to have access to the best possible technology, such as the world’s fastest jet (which Google tells me is the ‘Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird’). Another assumption is that he lives at the North Pole, rather than other options such as Lapland – a topic we’ve discussed in the past with the origins of Santa Claus and a transit map.
Producing Santa Claus Travel Analysis
We assume that, although he is Santa Claus, he has to abide by international aviation authority guidelines. So to help build this time travel contours map, I utilized OpenFlights airport data to build up a polyline network of air routes to use for this analysis. Next, I took advantage of a brilliant QGIS toolbox called QNEAT3 to create iso-area time contours. This works by creating point cloud of calculated distances (based on speed and time) along any possible route in a network. Next, these points were used in a TIN interpolation method to create a raster, which is then converted into the output time contours polygons.
There is a caveat – this and most time-distance calculation analyses is better suited to smaller, local analysis and networks of greater detail . However this is suitable for the resources available and scope of this project – and the results are more than satisfactory for this. The network approach explains the ‘steepening’ of contours around certain more isolated, less connected locations – reflecting the geography of airports and airstrips underneath. After some data cleaning, I played about with the ArcGIS Pro Paper Cut style from John Nelson, configuring it to create a snow topped effect to the final map outputs, which I’m pretty chuffed with!
And there we have it a collection of Santa Claus travel time maps – some Christmassy map fun just in time for the holidays.
Happy holidays and happy mapping,