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Germany
Rhine Water Levels Drop
Weeks of dry weather in Europe have caused water levels to fall in several of Europe’s major waterways, including the Rhine River in Germany. Today, the Rhine's water level is set to hit a crucial mark that could drastically impact fuel trade in Europe, with the continent potentially feeling the effects for months. Inland waterways are more important for transporting goods in Germany than in many other Western European countries. Low water levels will cause shipping delays and freight costs to skyrocket more than five-fold. In some areas, the Rhine is so shallow that only about 15 inches (38 cm) of water separate ships from the bottom of the riverbed, when usually there is around 6 feet (1.8 m) of water. Because the sailing route is narrowing, ships must start traveling in a convoy, like trains. Reliance on rail and road transport will increase - alternatives that are both more expensive and time-consuming.

This map depicts how the Rhine River is an important transportation tool in Western Europe, connecting to Europe's biggest port. Click on the map to learn more.
Further Reading: US News, The Guardian, Reuters, Politico
Graphic Source: Bloomberg
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Turkey
Turkey Hunts Mediterranean Gas
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has given his approval to the resumption of gas exploration in the eastern Mediterranean. The effort gives promise to practical energy supplies for the European Union, which is seeking substantial alternative gas supplies in the wake of Russia's ongoing war in Ukraine. However, this may reignite conflict with the Republic of Cyprus and Greece over drilling rights in the region. The island of Cyprus is divided between the internationally-recognized, EU-member, and predominantly-ethnic-Greek Republic of Cyprus in the south, and the self-declared Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus. Northern Cyprus contends the Republic of Cyprus has no right to grant drilling licenses to companies without its approval, and Turkey does not recognize the Republic of Cyprus as a sovereign state. Turkey and Greece had come close to conflict in 2020 over gas exploration in a contested area of their maritime border.

This map depicts maritime Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZ) in the eastern Mediterranean Sea, including claims by the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus. with Turkey resuming gas exploration in the region. Click on the map to learn more.
Further Reading: Reuters, Cyprus Mail, The National
Graphic Source: Al Jazeera
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Australia
Origins of the Continents
A new study published in the scientific journal Nature argues Earth's plate tectonics were driven by major meteor impacts around 3.8 billion years ago. Scientists theorized that before that time, Earth's surface was forming into a solid shell of rock, and previously thought the surface broke up into plates solely through volcanic processes - where lighter minerals were forced up to the surface as magma while denser minerals were forced down by gravity, eventually leading to the fracturing of the surface and other tectonic forces visible today. But scientists were also presented with the coincidence that Earth underwent a series of large meteor bombardments around the same time the tectonic breakup was starting. From the mineral distribution of Western Australia, one of the oldest and most stable regions of Earth's crust, scientists have found meteor impacts are the best explanation for indications of significant energy added to later-forming mineral layers, thus working in tandem with volcanic forces to break up the earth's surface and fuel the cycles of plate tectonics.

This map depicts the distribution of minerals in Western Australia, giving evidence to a new theory that massive meteor strikes helped start the processes of plate tectonics. Click on the map to learn more.
Graphic Source: Nature
 
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Yesterday's Answer
Q: One of the first applications of spatial analysis located cholera outbreaks in what European city? 

A: Paris, France
French Geographer Charles Picquet created a map in 1832 representing cholera outbreaks in Paris, with his map being the first documented application of what would later be classified as GIS. He represented the 48 districts of Paris with different color gradients, an early rendition of today’s heat maps, which would come to revolutionize the field. His map was published in a report and is likely the first use of spatial analysis in epidemiology. A similar situation in London led John Snow to map cholera deaths using point data in 1854. He not only showcased where cholera deaths were occurring on a map, but he also made an argument based on the displayed data, that the cholera cases were spreading by the water well nearby.

Source 
Today's Question
Q:  Connecting the Indian Ocean and the South China Sea, what heavily trafficked strait is the shortest water route between India and China?
 
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