Beyond the Bend: A Google Earth Experiment

By Staff • April 12th, 2017

Our reporting team researched data on stories of growth and change in communities outside of South Bend, Indiana, and visualized that data using Google Earth Pro and Earth Engine Timelapse. The videos and graphics show radical change to some of the world’s rapidly changing areas.


Butte and the Berkeley Pit

The state of Montana has voted Republican in every presidential election since 1992, when Bill Clinton won 37.63 percent of the popular vote to beat George H.W. Bush. Bush received 35.12 percent of the popular vote that year.

In the 2016 election, when Donald Trump won 55.6 percent of the popular vote in Montana, six counties voted for Hillary Clinton: Missoula, Glacier, Big Horn, Gallatin, Deer Lodge and Silver Bow.

Deer Lodge and Silver Bow counties have voted for the Democratic candidate in every presidential election since 1956,* even in 1972 when every other Montana county went for Nixon.

The story of Silver Bow county is a unique one in the history of Montana and the United States. Up until the 1930s, it was the fastest growing county in Montana, with a booming copper industry. Now, it has a population of 34,523 (2013 numbers) and the entire area is on the EPA’s National Priorities list. The EPA gave the “Silver Bow Creek/Butte Area” a site score** of 63.76, the highest in Montana.

A Google Timelapse showing an aerial view of the area since 1984 and the growth of the Berkeley Pit can be found here.

The growing pit or lake in the top part of the frame was once home to neighborhoods that lived on top of the mines that made Butte a destination for European immigrants. Open pit mining in Butte began in 1955, when copper prices were the highest they had been since World War I. The accessible parts of the Butte mines had already been mined, but the Anaconda Company sought to continue to profit from its mines there.

Butte was originally founded as a gold and silver mining camp, but it became prosperous in early 20th century during the copper boom.

By 1900, historian David Emmons estimates 12,000 people of Irish descent lived in Butte. Below is a Google Earth Pro-generated movie mapping out the route Emmons describes in his book, “The Butte Irish”: “Skibereen to Queenstown; Queenstown to Boston; Boston to Butte and the Mountain Con Mine.”

The tour begins on the Beara Peninsula, near Skibereen. What Emmons calls Queenstown is today known as Cobh, a port town in County Cork, Ireland.

*In 1956, Silver Bow county voted for Dwight Eisenhower, while Deer Lodge still voted for the Democrat Adlai Stevenson. In 1924, Silver Bow voted for the progressive candidate, Robert Follette. In 1904, Deer Lodge voted for Theodore Roosevelt. In every other presidential election, both counties have voted for the Democratic candidate.

**The site score is calculated by the EPA using their Hazard Ranking System. A full definition can be found here. It examines a site’s ability to release hazardous substances, the characteristics of the waste created and the people and sensitive environments affected by the release. — Caelin Miltko


Touring the Premier League’s Stadiums

The English Premier League’s stadiums encompass a wide range of size and prestige. From AFC Bournemouth’s tiny 12,000-seat Vitality Stadium to iconic stadiums of the sport — Liverpool’s Anfield, Manchester United’s Old Trafford and more — here is a tour of all 20 Premier League Stadiums. — Lucas Masin-Moyer


Deforestation in the Amazon Rainforest

This timelapse shows satellite imagery of deforestation in the Amazon rainforest from 1984 to 2016. This section of the Amazon rainforest is located in the Codajás municipality of the Amazonas state. Zoom in to see the individual settlements that have cut deeper and deeper into the rainforest over time. Roads into the rainforest widen as deforestation increases.

Deforestation is used by the logging industry, as well as for farm, industrial and settlement use. The Amazon rainforest has lost 294,366 square miles in total since 1970. “Save the Rainforest” protests prompted significant decreases to illegal logging, but deforestation has been back on the rise since 2015.

These increases threaten Brazil’s ability to successfully complete the Paris Agreement commitments it made in 2016.

Deforestation has a serious impact on the environment and endangered species. If the current rate of deforestation continues, every rainforest in the world will disappear within 100 years. — Grace Watkins


Hong Kong International Airport Emerges from the Sea

Hong Kong International Airport opened in July 1998 and was built largely on land reclaimed from the sea.

The airport is currently 4.8 square miles with two runways, though it’s expanding to three runways and is rapidly forming more land to accommodate the growth.

Hong Kong International Airport is the world’s most profitable, and Skytrax rankings recently named the airport the fifth best in the world, as voted by air travelers.

Watch the island emerge from the sea in this Google Earth Engine timelapse from 1984 to 2016. — Cassidy McDonald


Timelapse: Lake Mead is Drying Up

Along with the rest of the Western United States, Lake Mead in Nevada is suffering from the ongoing drought. The water levels have shrunk substantially from 1984 to 2016.

In the past, the reservoir has provided 90 percent of Las Vegas’ drinking water, yet federal water managers are now predicting that the lake will not have enough water to fulfill deliveries to Arizona and Nevada in 2018.

Las Vegas, Nevada, is one of the fastest growing cities in America, and the shrinking of its main fresh water supply is not something that will help the rising population levels. According to CBS News, the water levels of the Lake Mead reservoir were down more than 60 percent from their capacity in May of 2015. In September of 2015, the reservoir was down 147 feet from full capacity, and only 38 percent full. In 2016, the reservoir was just 36 percent full, and only keeps shrinking.

What exactly is causing this shrinking? Lake Mead is the largest reservoir in the United States, and is fed by the Colorado River and its tributaries, which are fed by snowmelt from the Rocky Mountains. Since the Southwestern United States and the Colorado River Basin have been experiencing a drought for the past fourteen years, there just isn’t as much water flowing in the system.

Although the snow should still be melting, the winters have been uneven and the precipitation has been below average, due to warmer temperatures and global warming. All of these factors in combination have contributed to the drying up of Lake Mead.

The drought is not going away anytime soon. The chances of a 35-year or longer “megadrought” striking the Southwest and central Great Plains by 2100 are above 80 percent if the world stays on its current trajectory of greenhouse gas emissions, according to scientists from NASA, Columbia University and Cornell University.

Although the region is already historically dry, rising temperatures spurred by the greenhouse effect result in more evaporation and less precipitation for the region as a whole. — Claire Radler


Dubai’s Radical Transformation

Dubai has experienced quite the transformation over the past few decades. It used to be known mainly as a small trading post and oil producer, but has become a a growing target of investment and an emerging tourist destination.

Dubai wants to become “the smartest and most sustainable city,” according to the Wall Street Journal. The impetus of Dubai’s transformation was when it became a member of the United Arab Emirates in 1971. Dubai, which is now home to approximately 2.5 million inhabitants, now boasts the Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest skyscraper.

Dubai is in preparation to host the World Expo in 2020. — Jacob Zinkula


Myrtle Beach’s Rapid Growth

Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, is one of the most popular vacation cities in the United States.

It’s also one of the nation’s fastest growing cities. According to Steve Jones of The Sun News, Myrtle Beach was the nation’s second-fastest growing metropolitan area from 2014 to 2015.

Though people of all ages have been moving to Myrtle Beach, a lot of the city’s recent growth can be attributed to retirees. Myrtle Beach is famous for beautiful beaches, and rapid economic development has accounted for the construction of a bevy of other attractions, such as golf courses.

The Google Earth Engine Timelapse tool below shows how dramatic the area’s growth has been. — Kevin Culligan

Notre Dame Football: Taking a National Perspective

By Teagan Dillon • April 12th, 2017

The Shamrock Series — Notre Dame’s home-away-from-home series — started in 2009 at the Alamo Dome and became a unique way for Notre Dame to reach its fans across the country.

With interesting venues and special uniforms, the Shamrock Series has been deemed by many as a success since the beginning.

In 2007, the Irish are taking a break from the Shamrock Series to add an extra home game following the completion of the Campus Crossroads project. This video is a tour of the previous eight Shamrock Series locations:

Study: 7.6% of Indiana’s Bridges Structurally Deficient

By Caelin Miltko • April 12th, 2017

The average age of a bridge in the United States is 43 years old and almost 4 in 10 are over 50 years old. Part of Barack Obama’s 2013 infrastructure plan dealt with the bridge problem in the United States.

The Department of Transportation tracks structurally deficient and functionally obsolete bridges annually.

A structurally deficient bridge requires significant maintenance, repair or rehabilitation. It is not necessarily unsafe but may become so over time. A functionally obsolete bridge may be too narrow, may not have adequate shoulders or other design flaws. Official definitions can be found here.

In the infographic below, the condition of Indiana’s bridges is explored in detail as compared to the national standards.

Indiana’s Reputation is Expanding in Technology Industry

By Daniel O'Boyle • April 7th, 2017

When asked to think of cities associated with technology, one usually thinks of the coasts. Areas like Silicon Valley are usually seen as the key locations behind the modern industries of the 21st century.

But in recent years, Indianapolis — and the state of Indiana — have become major players in the industry too. Just last month, Forbes placed Indianapolis fifth among cities creating the most tech jobs, while Governing Magazine wrote about the city’s surprise success in the tech industry.

Echoing a similar sentiment expressed in his State of the State address, Gov. Eric Holcomb called on Hoosiers to embrace Indiana’s potential as a tech state in a recent letter to the Indianapolis Star.

This infographic shows the success of Indiana — and Indianapolis in particular — as a key location for tech jobs.

Data: Numbers Tell the Full Story of President Obama’s Legacy

By Lucas Masin-Moyer • April 7th, 2017

Much of President Donald Trump’s campaign for the nation’s highest office was based upon undoing the policies and programs that had been enacted by President Barack Obama. The domestic legacy left by President Obama can be divided into four major policy areas — economic, debt and deficit reduction, immigration and healthcare.

In the wake of the financial crisis of 2007-08, Obama was faced with a market hemorrhaging jobs, with the unemployment rate reaching double digits in mid 2009. By the beginning of Obama’s second term, economic growth had picked up and unemployment continued to fall, reaching 4.8% in the last month of his presidency. While some of the spending Obama used to try and stimulate the economy increased the deficit early on, by the end of his presidency, the deficit had shrunk dramatically.

With Congress’ recent failure to institute a new healthcare policy meaning that Obama’s  Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”) will stay the law of the land, perhaps the most enduring legacy of the Obama years will center around healthcare policy. Since Obama assumed office, as a result of the law, despite rising costs, the uninsured rate in the United States has dropped from 16.2 percent to 8.8 percent.

Where Obama and President may have overlapped most in policy is, in contrary to political rhetoric, immigration policy. While Trump’s claims to “build a wall” were far more dramatic than any Obama administration statements on immigration policy, the administration deported more immigrants than any other in American history.

Infographic: Visa Requirements for U.S. Citizens Vary by Destination

By Emily McConville • April 6th, 2017

If you are an American citizen, travel is easy. Over 100 countries offer visa-free entry to Americans, while dozens of others issue visas on arrival.

All travel, however, is governed by bilateral agreements taking into account internal and international politics, supranational organizations, health and safety.

This infographic outlines some of the things Americans need to do to travel to each country.

Data: Indiana Ranks Low in High School Sports Gender Equity

By Grace Watkins and Cassidy McDonald • April 6th, 2017

The overall picture of gender equity in high school sports is bleak, according to an analysis of Department of Education data.

The 2012 data suggest that 28 percent of all public high schools have large gender gaps in their sports programs. A “large” gender gap is defined as having significantly more boys receive spots on sports teams than girls (relative to the overall distribution of gender in the school).

The 10 worst states for gender equity are all in the South. Only six states have fewer than 10 percent of public high schools with large gender gaps.

Indiana has the 35th worst ranking. 28 percent of its public high schools have large gender gaps. The good news is that Indiana improved four percent from the 2010-11 school year to the 2011-12 school year. –– Grace Watkins


Title IX and Girls High School Sports

“There’s no crying in baseball.”

That’s the frequently cited tagline from the 1992 movie “A League of Their Own,” which tells the story of the All American Girls Professional Baseball League, a wartime effort to fill the gap in men’s baseball with women’s teams.

But the film includes a lesser-known line that’s perhaps even more poignant today. Coach Jimmy Dugan (played by Tom Hanks) says to Dottie Hinson (Geena Davis) when she considers quitting: “Sneaking out like this, quitting, you’ll regret it for the rest of your life. Baseball is what gets inside you. It’s what lights you up. You can’t deny that.”

This year marks the 45th anniversary of the Title IX of the Educational Amendments of 1972, the statute that prohibited discrimination in college and high school athletics and allowed millions of women to participate in sports. (And as Dugan would say, helped them learn what “lights them up.”)

Take a look at what has changed, and check out the state of high school women’s athletics in Indiana today. — Cassidy McDonald

Sports Data: NHL’s Evolution, Luck’s Stats, WNBA Attendance Drops

By Staff • April 6th, 2017

Hockey, like any sport, is a game of innovation, and few advancements have provided such a lasting impact as the curved stick blade and the butterfly style of goaltending.

In the 1960s, two popular stars on the NHL’s Chicago Blackhawks, Stan Mikita and Bobby Hull, supposedly discovered they could shoot a hockey puck harder and with more control using a stick with a curved blade.

According to the Toronto Star, Mikita made the discovery after his flat stick partially broke during practice. He showed Hull how easy it was to get the puck off the ice, and, although the two were probably not the first NHL players to use the curved stick, they popularized the design.

When Mikita and Hull began using curved sticks, the average NHL game saw around three goals scored during it. Less than two decades later, however, the league averaged almost four goals per game, an increase of one goal.

Many of the offensive statistical leaders in NHL history, like Wayne Gretzky, Mario LeMieux and Mark Messier, played during this era.

The curved stick did more than just enable players to score, though. Seemingly simple facets of today’s game, like saucer passes, snap shots and clearing the defensive zone by chipping it high off the glass, would not have been possible without the controlled ability to lift the puck provided by the curved stick.

As physics has told us, however, for every action there is an opposite reaction, and for hockey this arrived in the shape of a feisty French-Canadian goaltender by the name of Patrick Roy during the 1985-1986 season.

Instead of simply kicking at pucks, Roy dropped to his knees and used his flexibility and quickness to kick his legs out and cover the bottom part of the net more effectively than any goalie before or, arguably, since.

While it may seem contradictory to cover the lower part of the net in the age of the curved stick blade, when Roy broke into the NHL he said he looked at the stats and saw something like three-quarters of all goals scored at the time were low, off rebounds or loose pucks in front of the net, according to the New York Times.

The butterfly style allowed Roy to first control rebounds off of shots better, but also position himself in such a way that reduced angles and made it harder for second-chance shots to beat him, no matter how quickly the shooter could lift the puck.

Although Roy was not the first goalie to drop to his knees in such a style, his popularity in Quebec and successful career in the NHL (during which he won two Stanley Cups each with the Canadiens and the Colorado Avalanche, as well as two Conn Smythe trophies as the MVP of the Stanley Cup playoffs) soon prompted scores of young goalies to adopt the butterfly style.

This countered the increasing goal totals produced by the curved stick blade, and by the end of Roy’s career in 2003, the average goals scored in the NHL was below pre-curved stick levels.

Few, if any, goaltenders in today’s game reach higher levels without adopting at least a hybrid butterfly style.

Roy also happened to be one of the most — colorful — characters in NHL history, as this video from TSN reminds us.

And yes, that was Gretzky, the Great One himself, that Roy faked out at the blue line at Madison Square Garden in moment No. 10. — Zach Klonskinski


By the Numbers: Andrew Luck

Quarterback Andrew Luck has been with the Indianapolis Colts for five seasons, bringing his team to the playoffs three times. Luck signed a six-year contract with the Colts that locks him in through 2021. This chart displays his rushing and passing yards during his time with the team. — Connor DeMill


WNBA Attendance Drops

The WNBA marks its 20th anniversary this year, but the league’s attendance numbers don’t beg for celebration.

Since its inception, average attendance has dwindled, but that’s only one numerical marker of the typically subordinate position of women’s basketball in the United States: The highest-paid WNBA player currently earns around one-fifth of the salary of the lowest-paid NBA player, and the NBA draws millions in viewerships that hardly compare to the WNBA’s six-digit television audiences. — Cassidy McDonald


Patrick Kane’s Surge in Stats

The Chicago Blackhawks have clinched the NHL Central Division and home ice in the Western Conference for the Stanley Cup playoff. Over the past 10 years, they have been Stanley Cup champions three times.

One big reason: Patrick Kane has consistently been one of the best players on the Blackhawks. Yet over these 10 years, his number of goals has yet to succeed his number of assists. — Claire Radler


Where Were Indiana’s Current MLB Players Born?

April 2 marked Opening Day of the 2017 MLB season. Of the 750 players on active rosters, 25 come from Indiana while three more were recently cut. Where are they from? This map has the details. — Joe DiSipio


How Archie Miller’s Winning Percentage Compared to Tom Crean’s

With Indiana firing head men’s basketball coach Tom Crean after nine seasons with the Hoosiers, it is clear that a new voice is needed to guide the team in a new direction. His 166-135 record at Indiana is not necessarily a bad tally, but a historic program accustomed to winning expects more than four NCAA Tournament appearances in that span.

As Archie Miller arrives from Dayton to take the reins, will he be able to lead Indiana back to its winning ways? His history at Dayton says he can, and fans in Bloomington will look forward to next season when a new face is leading the Hoosiers onto the court at Assembly Hall next winter. — Juan Jose Rodriguez


Crean’s Run Ends in Bloomington

As the 2017 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament began on March 16, Indiana University announced that it had fired head basketball coach Tom Crean.

Indiana hired Crean in 2008, and he compiled a 301–166 record in nine seasons. In the 2016-17 season, Indiana went 18-16 and missed the NCAA Tournament, losing in the first round of the NIT Tournament to Georgia Tech.

This chart breaks down Crean’s rise and fall as Indiana’s basketball coach. — Kevin Culligan


Notre Dame by the Numbers: Breakdown of Fighting Irish Sports Statistics

By Staff • April 6th, 2017

Notre Dame hockey’s regular-season average attendance hit its lowest point since the opening of the Compton Family Ice Arena in October 2011.

Despite the low turnout, the program is having one of its most successful seasons in years. The fourth-seeded Irish topped both Minnesota and second-seeded UMass Lowell to head to the Frozen Four this weekend for the first time since 2011 and the third time in program history.

The following chart tracks the average attendance since the opening of the Compton Family Ice Arena six seasons ago. — Teagan Dillon


Disparities in Irish Men’s Basketball Scoring

On a 13-member team, four Notre Dame men’s basketball players scored 2,140 of the season’s 2,783 points:

  • Bonzie Colson (639)
  • V.J. Beachem (522)
  • Matt Farrell (506)
  • Steve Vasturi (473)

Four players scored nearly 78 percent of the team’s points, so the key to next year’s success could be a fifth starter who can score in the 400-point range. Temple Gibbs, this year’s fifth starter, scored 168. — Erin McAuliffe