Month: December 2013

Have a nice 2014

La Coruña, Spain

La Coruña, Spain

A new year. 365 days to think and talk. In Spain some find signs that macroeconomics go better, and some find that population is not seeing the results (both things could eventually be happening alongside); those that think that the environment is getting better as vegetation is growing on what was to be a series of buildings, and those that say that it is getting increasingly fragile. There are probably places in which things go better, or worse, without getting out of this planet. Meanwhile, other things happen in the world, and not being as serious is far from meaning that they are uninteresting. Let us continue with the visit, paying attention to subjects as mid-sized cities, often more interesting than megalopolis. Thanks for joining the conversation.

Under the rug (6) Large harbours

Rotterdam is well known as one of the largest harbours in the world. It is expanding over the North Sea with ever increasing jetties in a sandy coastline (read

Less known is the new Yangshan deepwater port area, south of Shanghai, on Xiaoyang island. Linked to the mainland by a system of bridges that reach that location more than 15 km into the sea, it has a large pier over 4 km long aimed at container traffic.

Again, images taken from

Biblio (72) TERM 2013

The TERM 2013 report by the European Environmental Agency (which can be downloaded at analyses the effects on environment of the transport policies, considering the targets, the EU has established to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

These targets are linked to policies set to promote public transportation and non-motorised mobility. It seems that emissions linked to mobility are smaller than the targets established for each year, a positive outcome; but overall emissions are still 25% over the 1990 levels used for targets. Urban pollution problems caused by nitrogen dioxide are relevant and growing due to the expansion of the share of diesel vehicles in the overall fleet.

The report confirms that the cities in which public transportation and non-motorised modes are strong have less pollution and produce less greenhouse gases.

Under the rug (5) As the rug roars

Male is the capital of the Maldives. Slightly over 100.000 people on a very restricted space in the middle of the Indian ocean. A substantial part of the city has been recently built, and land reclamation is still active, as the images from show. A race between urban and demographic growth on one side, and sea level rise on the other side due to climate change.

But this is not the Netherlands, or New Orleans. There is no hinterland to reach in case of flood. And anything thrown to the sea could be nearby, and brought back by the tide.

Under the rug (4) Huang He

The Yellow River, in northern China, has a quite active delta. These images have been obtained on , quite a treat if you like spatial imagery. You can compare images from 1999 on, and they are updated quite frequently, although they are low-res (30 m pixel). Google Earth has a higher definition in some areas, and is more agile in software terms, but this is a clearly precise time machine.

Usually satellites are configured to hoover over the same spot at fixed intervals (return intervals), at the same sun hour. But the same hour doesn’t mean the same tide position, so I’m not sure whether these images are taken at equal water levels; besides, chances are the satellite in 1999 was not still active in 2013. Anyway, there are substantial changes in that “receding rug”. Artificial ponds appear (salt flats?), on some areas the sea advances and in others it loses the battle (more often that)

Under the rug (3) Gibraltar

gibraltarbajogibraltarGibraltar Rock rises 411 m (just six meters short of NYC’s WTC prior to 2001) over the strait; but just two miles south depth is twice that figure. Who knows what is under water? surely lost ships, scores of submarine sensors, and who knows what else. Depth is quite enormous when compared to other known straits: the English channel is just 174 m deep at most, so there is little wonder in  the fact that all the talk about a fixed rail/car link between Spain and Morroco have produced little outuput until now.

Under the rug (2) La Coruña

Here is the coastline I know best. Bathymetric data is still that of the General Bathymetric Chart of the Oceans , by the British Oceanographic Data Center,  with depth contours in meters. Contour zero comes from a generalization of the digital elevation model, and it is into the current sea when compared to the real coastline, so I render it to show the precision level of the data source, which is enough given the visible scale.


The Galician rias are considered in Spain an example of the way the sea and the land can relate. The sea, but what would happen if the sea were to disappear (an unlikely event) mark the landscape?. Here a substantial part of the landscape that can be seen east of Monte de San Pedro, a belvedere over La Coruña (A on map) would be at a depth lower than Hercules Tower, the Roman lighthouse of the city, inscribed in the UNESCO world heritage list.


The elevation of the tower over the current sea level is already substantially higher than the surrounding depths. On the image, you can see an approximate rendering of depth 25 m contour, as well as the height of the tower. The landscape of the area would change if the sea receded, but not just due to the absence of water, that unifies the image, as there would also be shipwrecks, rubbish and other signs of the human presence in the city over the centuries.

Happy Christmas Eve!


Happy Christmas Eve! here we have two small objects designed by my sister, with a trilingual 2014 calendar; if there are kids around, they will probably love it. You will need scisors, glue and a bit of patience. The best option is to print each of the images, or just the one you prefer, either scenes from the Spanish city of La Coruña (file calido1) or the cute animals (file calido2) in an A3 (twice the letter format, for our US friends), using the pdf files from the precedent links. A4 (or letter) would probably be to small for most fingers.

WP_001513 WP_001514 WP_001511

A cute 3d object results.

Under the rug (1)



Every sanitation system in the world somehow ends at sea. Some systems are more sophisticated, others are less. But if your underwater pipe gets far enough from the shore, you don’t see the results… at least at first sight. It is like hiding something under the rug…

How thick the rug? On the next image, generated using the General Bathymetric Chart of the Oceans published by the British Oceanographic Data Center, you can see the depth (in meters) of the underwater spaces under the Iberian peninsula. The dark brown hues are areas less than 200 m deep (the height of the highest buildings in the peninsula). It is also a dimension previously used in a game here at metrhispanic, albeit in the opposite sense…


Biblio (71) Films

Planum, the Italian online urban planning magazine, is publishing a series of links to urbanism-related films, with interesting examples. Most of the clips are historical, but there are also recent films, that are not freely visible online, but which seem quite interesting, as “unfinished Italy”, in which among other things you can see a re-use of an unifinished road viaduct.