October 2012


Top officials take a walk across CEC's "Big Map" of North American environmental stories

The huge floor map at this year's annual CEC Council session in New Orleans was hard to miss. The 20'x24' map invited participants, including top environmental officials, to quite literally "take a walk" across North America and explore some of the joint efforts of Canada, Mexico and the United States, through the CEC, to protect the continent's shared environment.

The map used information and data from the North American Environmental Atlas to highlight examples of community and ecosystem resilience in North America, the theme of this year's Council session. Some of the stories on the map, which you can view here, include:

  • Ranchers studying sustainable ranching practices in the Flint Hills Grassland Priority Conservation Area.
  • Carbon flux stations in Mexico that provide data to trinational experts developing a forest carbon-monitoring program in Mexico.
  • Marine Protected Areas that provide safe nursery grounds for shrimp or host cooperatives that market sustainably caught lobster.
  • Experts using satellite images to track changes in land cover, including forest loss from pine beetle invasions.

CEC's Council members—North America's top environment officials: Mexico's Secretary of Environment and Natural resources Juan Elvira Quesada, US EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson and Canada's Environment Minister Peter Kent— stand atop a huge map of North America highlighting stories about CEC's work.

Map Viewer gets a Facelift

The CEC's North American Environmental Atlas has launched an updated online map viewer interface.

The new interface allows users to customize their own maps and switch layers of data on and off with greater ease. It also has several new functionalities, including the ability to print maps more easily, share data, and download different formats of digital data free of charge. Check it out, at http://www.cec.org/naatlas!

We are cleared for takeoff: airports are the latest addition to the North American Environmental Atlas

The North American Environmental Atlas now includes North America's airports (excluding heliports and seaplane bases) as part of our base map at 1:10,000,000 scale. For northern communities, airports are important landmarks that serve as hubs, connecting them to other communities across enormous distances and vast areas of permafrost. Airport locations can also yield information about aircraft emissions. Data used for this map were created by Natural Resources Canada (NR-Can), US Geological Survey (USGS) and the National Institute of Statistics and Geography of Mexico (Instituto Nacional de Estadística y Geografía—Inegi).

North American Environmental Atlas News Briefs

Zakir Jafry, CEC GIS Specialist, poses in front of our new map viewer

Zakir goes to Google Camp

CEC GIS Specialist Zakir Jafry attended Google's Geo for Good User Summit at Googles' headquarters in Mountain View, California, on 26-28 September 2012. He learned a suite of new skills aimed at improving the Atlas' Google Earth interface, layers and tours.

CEC to showcase environmental "before and after" with maps

The CEC will give a workshop and host an exhibition booth at the upcoming National Council for Geographic Education Annual Conference in San Marcos, Texas, on 4-7 October 2012. The CEC's workshop on "Visualizing North America's Changing Environment" will be held on Friday, October 5, 10:00-10:45 am. The workshop will explore change that has occurred across North America over five years and how different layers in the Atlas can be used to understand the most significant environmental changes. Come join us!




The North American Environmental Atlas assembles seamless, accurate, geospatial data, including maps, documentation and interactive map layers. The variety of base and thematic map layers is continuously expanding, providing a foundation to analyze the status of environmental conditions and identify significant trends across North America.


Integrated Google Earth maps

Many of the Atlas map layers can now be viewed from within the new map viewer using standard Google Earth files that can also be downloaded. For example, clicking on one of the 24 ecoregions in the Marine Ecoregions map displays detailed information about the ecoregion, along with a photo and links to more information. Launch


A North American partnership

The Atlas was created through the cooperation of scientists and map makers from Natural Resources Canada, Mexico’s Instituto Nacional de Estadística y Geografía, the United States Geological Survey, and other agencies in each country through the work of the Commission for Environmental Cooperation.
Read the Atlas brochure


Help us map North America's shared environment

Do you have ideas for a map layer that the CEC should add to the North American Environmental Atlas? Are you using Atlas data in your projects?

Send your ideas, maps and mashups to: naatlas@cec.org.
We'll feature them in our map showcase.


For more information about the CEC, please visit http://www.cec.org.
To find out more about the Atlas, go to http://www.cec.org/naatlas or write to naatlas@cec.org.