See the complete article: Publicly available global environmental layers

  • Edited by: T. Hengl

Images of lights at night have shown to be highly correlated with industrial activity and Gross Domestic Product (Small et al., 2005; Doll et al. 2007). A time-series of (1 km resolution) annual global night light images is available via the NOAA's National Geophysical Data Center. The lights at night map contains the lights from cities, towns, and other sites with persistent lighting, including gas flares. The filtered annual composites are available from 1992 (Elvidge et al, 2009). The examples below show the mean value of the lights at night and the second PCA component derived from the 1 km imagery and resampled to 5 km resolution. The second component (most likely) indicates the increase/decrease of lights at night over the period.

Partners in the GLOBIO consortium created a World Map of Human Impacts on the Biosphere for various time periods. This is basically a map showing a current status of the roads, railways and settlement density (UNEP, 2002). Human impact maps can be browsed via the UNEP Grid Arendal. Andy Nelson (2008) has produced a global map of accessibility, i.e. a map showing travel time to major cities, using a variety of GIS layers (all these are publicly available). The International Biosphere-Geosphere Programme, the Stockholm Environment Institute, the Stockholm Resilience Center, the CSIRO in Australia and the International Human Dimensions Programme on Global Environmental Change are producing qan outreach project on the Anthropocene and planetary boundaries. One of the objectives of this project is to make a detailed inventory of the Global Transportation System.

Global accessibility map based on the road networks in 2000.
Intact forest landscapes based on Greenpeace.

A comprehensive global assessment of the human impacts to marine ecosystems can be followed via the work of the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis in Santa Barbara. This group have produced a Global Map of Human Impacts to Marine Ecosystems by using a number of connected input GIS layers (Halpern et al. 2008). These layers are available for download as GeoTiff and/or ESRI grids. Distribution of global airports and flight routes can be freely accessed from the openflights.org (maintained by Conentshare company). A global map of flight routes can be ordered via the LX97 company. Chris Harrison produced the world map of internet connectivity and traffic.