UPDATE: 12/12/12 Korean Time (934pm EST on 12/11) – According to the Associated Press, North Korea has test fired its long range missile. More information will be coming out as nations in the region and around the world analyze the launch and respond through official channels. At this time though, preliminary information shows that the missile was launched towards the south and passed over or near Okinawa early Wednesday morning local time.
Additionally, in following up from the original post, Darren Wiens has assembled several posts depicting maps for the 10,000km geodesic buffer. GREAT work in applying the original post topic to create relevant related content.
Please check out his content as well, as it’s a great way to tie together the concepts discussed in this post and related articles.
ORIGINAL POST: 12/6/12
According to a report earlier yesterday (seen here at CBS News), North Korea could launch a missile test some time next week. According to a South Korean expert, the article quotes a South Korean expert saying who “told Yonhap the rocket could potentially reach a distance of about 10,000 kilometers, reaching as far as Los Angeles.”
So this brings up an interesting point, what does a 10,000km range look like on a map? Why do geography questions like map projections matter? Immediately I was reminded of this ESRI ArcUser article from 2011 which is a must read! It explains in great detail the difference between buffering and geodesic buffering (which takes into account the curvature of the earth). This is critical when showing travel ranges, especially over large distances like those involving missile launches and tests. The same process explains why airlines fly polar routes to go from the Asia to the West Coast of the United States, or why the London to New York routes travel over Iceland and Greenland. In each of these cases, the shortest route is actually over the polar regions, so on a flat map, it looks like the path is actually curving when in fact, it is the earth that has the curvature, and the path is straight. Again, this is a great read, and well worth the time. Also, for ESRI ArcGIS 10.1 users, there is now a geodesic buffering tool, along with more information available from the ESRI Online Help for Buffering