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Ecological Tapestry of the World

Each square on the map combines those categories of data, and every pixel can be described in a single sentence—say, warm, wet hills on volcanic rocks with mostly evergreen forests. Underneath: reams of reference. The US Geological Survey pulled that information from a wide swath of sources—soil surveys, digital elevation models, satellites, weather stations. But the agency didn’t have the computing power to chew it into meaningful maps. So, they partnered with Esri, the titanic digital mapping company, which marshaled an army of geographers, analysts, and cartographers to knit everything together

Explore a tapestry of World Ecosystems..Story maps combine interactive maps and multimedia content into elegant user experiences. They make it easy for you to harness the power of maps to tell your stories. The map was produced by a team led by Roger Sayre, Ph.D., Senior Scientist for Ecosystems at the USGS LandChange Science Program. It is a mosaic of almost 4,000 unique ecological areas called Ecological Land Units (ELUs) based on four factors that are key in determining the makeup of ecosystems. Three of these—bioclimate, landforms, and rock type—are physical phenomena that drive the formation of soils and the distribution of vegetation. The fourth, land cover, is the vegetation that is found in a location as a response to the physical factors.