Rental house prices & Antarctica mission: visual stories online

This is an old post but I’m leaving it here for the hell of it. Failed links have been updated (where possible) or removed.

I’m enjoying the work coming out of the NZ Herald’s data ‘department’ (not sure it’s big enough to warrant that description but I like the sound of it). This week Harkanwal Singh, the Data Editor, has published an interactive map of New Zealand showing changes in rental prices for houses since 2001, and 2006.

It’s fascinating moving round the map and seeing the changes, suburb by suburb. More fascinating is where high-rent areas sit cheek-by-jowl with low-rent areas.

The graphic is nicely set up: just move around the map like you would on Google Maps and hover over a suburb to see a summary of median rents and the number of houses that are rented. Harkanwal’s written a useful set of guide notes to go with it.

The Nz Herald’s rental map shows changes in the median rental prices of houses since 2001, and 2006. You can explore the map city by city, region by region, and suburb by suburb.

Can’t remember what a ‘median’ number is? has a simple explanation with examples: Place a list of numbers in value order and find the middle number. For example, take 12, 3 and 5. Put them in order, 3, 5, 12. The middle number is 5, so the median is 5.

Stuff, meanwhile,  published a pretty, interactive feature (link was about the trip a team of scientists are taking to Antarctica to investigate the feeding habits of blue and humpback whales, and to look at icefish and grenadiers, which are prey of toothfish. The graphic’s broken into sections: The Vessel, The Journey, Whale Size, Whale Numbers.

Included is a particularly sobering graph showing a steep decline in blue whale numbers in the Antarctic region from an estimated 250,000 in the early 1900s to near extinction in 1960 and a small recovery since they became protected in 1966. Sigh.

The New Zealand-Antarctic Ecosystem Voyage is an interesting one, not least because the team are going to ‘listen’ for whales using sonobuoys:

Sonobuoys deployed from the ship will provide bearings towards the source of the low frequency whale songs even when the singing whales are hundreds of kilometres away.

“Crossed bearings from multiple sonobuoys will accurately pinpoint the location of the whales,” said Science Leader with the Australian Antarctic Division, Dr Mike Double.

They’re also going to moor an echosounder under water in Terra Nova Bay and leave it there over winter “to see what happens”. The larvae and eggs of Antarctic Silverfish, which are prey for seabirds, fish, whales and seals, are found in the bay but the scientists want to know more about the adults.

“When the ice clears in spring, you find lots of eggs and larvae of silverfish but you don’t see the adults. We don’t know if the adults move in during winter and lay their eggs there, or if the eggs drift in from somewhere else,” said Voyage Leader and NIWA Principal Scientist Dr Richard O’Driscoll.

Here is Dr O’Driscoll talking about the trip, which has taken more than 12 months to prepare and is a collaboration between NIWA (the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research), Antarctica New Zealand and the Australian Antarctic Division.

Looking forward to the updates.

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