Three mapmakers with the Environmental Systems Research Institute, Monash University and the North American Cartographic Information Society have created a new map of the world that more accurately displays both the size and shape of the continents. In their paper published on the International Journal of Geographical Information Science website, Bojan Šavrič , Tom Patterson and Bernhard Jenny explain their reasons for creating the new map, the factors they took into consideration when making it and how they view their final product.
Accurately depicting the Earth on a 2-D map has been a problem ever since it was discovered that the planet is round. But cartographers have tried nonetheless. Their efforts have yielded a large number of map types, most of which have fallen out of favor. In modern times, the most common map is the Mercator projection (it can be seen on walls in schools around the globe), but it has some serious flaws—the largest being that the continents are not sized correctly. Africa appears to be the same size as Greenland, for example, and Brazil is shown to be smaller than Alaska. Another well-known map is the Gall-Peters projection map, in which the continents are shown more accurately in size, but are distorted in shape.
The mapmakers with this new effort report their unsuccessful development of a map that more accurately represents the land masses. This came after reading about Boston Public School's decision to discontinue use of the Mercator map in favor of the Gall-Peters map. Frustrated at the available choices, they began work on a map of their own—one that they hoped would offer more in the way of "eye appeal."
To create their map, the researchers started with the Robinson Projection Map, which has been used by the National Geographic Society since 1988—it more accurately represents both the size and shape of the continents, along with a grid. After making adjustments, the researchers produced the Equal Earth projection map, which they describe as a pseudo-cylindrical projection map that offers a relatively realistic view of our spherical world in 2-D.
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Bojan Šavrič et al. The Equal Earth map projection, International Journal of Geographical Information Science (2018). DOI: 10.1080/13658816.2018.1504949