Maps and Mappers of the 2022 calendar: Carl Churchill, Back Cover

Q: Tell us about yourself:

A: I am a cartographer working for Woodwell Climate Research Center. I came to GIS from a very humanities-focused background, with a history degree and even brief training as an archeologist. I have dabbled in a lot of things over my brief professional career – including a few gigs as a stand-up comedian. Currently I handle maps for our scientific presentations, communications releases, and projects with 3rd party clients. I also continue to do freelance work, where I enjoy helping organizations and individuals tell their own stories with a bit of a design leg-up from my end.

Q: 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).

A: I was deep in the #30daymapchallenge and running low on ideas (as it happens), and was browsing random datasets. The Spilhaus projection had just been released for ArcGIS Pro, and I knew I wanted something that could showcase it. Spilhaus is best used to showcase the connectivity of the world’s oceans. I stumbled on a dataset showing chlorophyll concentrations. A few things drew my eye here – first it was sufficiently high resolution enough I knew global features would be easily identifiable in it, it was complex enough to be visually interesting without turning into noise, and it was obviously a relevant dataset to oceans.

Q: Tell us about the tools, data, etc., you used to make the map.

A: Normally, when you are trying to take a raster from Pro and drop it into Blender, you want to convert it to a 16bit image and do some calculation to max out the range of pixel values to avoid terracing. However, here the values in the raster were so complex, and the final image was not going to show anything necessarily ‘realistic’ (unlike terrain where terracing creates an obvious difference with what you would expect), I merely projected it into Spilhaus, cranked the dpi, and exported it as a .tif like any ordinary image. I set that up as my displacement layer in Blender, converted the raster in Pro to a colored gradient with a scheme I liked, and then layered the two. I also exported a layer of grey ocean areas which I rendered without displacement, and then in Photoshop I combined everything with masking. After that, the map was done with some minimal labeling and creating a legend.