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Amazing spike maps that will change the way you see Earth

Eye-opening population density spike maps have revealed the true scale of how jam-packed America’s coastal areas are compared to its interior – and the staggering detail that New York City’s five boroughs could hold all the people on Earth standing shoulder-to-shoulder. Standard population density maps are colored but flat, so it’s difficult to know how dense one area truly is in comparison with another. While the spread of humanity may not be surprising, these maps break down population density into spikes –  the higher the spike, the larger the volume of people living in one area –  that offer a fascinating visual appraisal of how humans congregate along the coasts near water in North and South America, Europe, Asia and Australia, due to a longstanding preference since humans evolved from ocean organisms. In the US, we can see the mega-regions along the northeast corridor and the West Coast that account for a large chunk of the country’s population. The maps’ creator Alasdair Rae, a professor of urban studies and planning at the University of Sheffield, told ‘In a way these graphics are blindingly obvious, they tell us what we know, but it’s a slightly different way of seeing the world. It’s interesting and it’s also quite enjoyable – part science, part fun and part art.’