Shrunken Scotland – why?

ITV national weather presenter Lucy Verasamy hosts the new-look forecast. Photograph: ITV
ITV national weather presenter Lucy Verasamy hosts the new-look forecast. Photograph: ITV
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Courtesy of the Met Office

I’ve just be reading a little bit more into the news that Met Office have won the ITV contract and found that the mighty Visual Cortex graphics system that is being used looks as if it can only display maps in the Mercator projection! According to the news release from the Met Office, the new graphics system will provide “more lifelike high-resolution maps” – all I can say is that they have a strange idea of what lifelike means!  The brief must have been to simply reproduce the graphics system that has been used by the Met Office for the last 10 years or so, and to be fair they have done a very good job even down to the map projection, and that’s the problem the map projection. The type of Mercator projection they use means that lines of latitude narrow the further north you go, and hence Scotland appears distorted and much smaller than it really is. Many of you will remember that we’ve been down this road before, I think it was in 2005 when the BBC introduced their existing weather graphics system, it frustrated and angered a lot of people, and I really can’t believe the sheer arrogance and stupidity of both organisations in ignoring this issue and doing it all over again!

Maybe it’s because my Father was from Glasgow and I spent 8 years at Kinloss that I have such strong feelings about how Scotland appears in the humble weather forecast, it’s ridiculous I know, but many people probably live in the delusional belief that Scotland is that shrunken bit at the top of the map. I found a wonderful article entitle “Honey I shrunk the country!” on the Bella Caledonia website and the three images below show what the problem is in a nutshell (I hope they don’t mind me using them!).

Courtesy of Bella Caledonia
Courtesy of Bella Caledonia
Courtesy of Bella Caledonia
Courtesy of Bella Caledonia

There is no reason why the Met Office and the ITV couldn’t easily change the type of map projection that is used, but yet again Scotland loses out, this time to another dinosaur, but this time it’s the Met Office and not the BBC. I’m sure people in the south wouldn’t like it if was the other way round and would soon be up in arms if the same thing happened to them. As the writer who wrote the original article on Bella Caledonia said in his article, these maps are both biased and misleading and need to be changed by the BBC and ITV to give a fair and accurate image of Scotland and its place within the British Isles.

Author: xmetman

An ex-metman passionate about all things to do with weather, climate and clouds

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