In pictures: Global flight paths

image captionMichael Markieta, a transportation planner at global engineering and design firm Arup, has spent the past year developing visualisations of flight paths crossing the globe.
image captionMarkieta began to work on the visualisations in his spare time using geographical information systems (GIS) technology to create "maps" of the data.
image captionThere are currently more than 58,000 flight paths criss-crossing the globe, but each individual airport services only a limited number of others.
image captionThe busiest European airport is Frankfurt International, which has 235 direct flight destinations. (Based on data from
image captionThe busiest airports by continent include Sao Paulo, Beijing, Sydney, Frankfurt, Cairo and Atlanta.
image captionDisplaying 58,000 flight paths becomes difficult when multiple paths overlap, particularly in dense areas such as central Europe and the eastern United States.
image captionMarkieta used lighter shades of blue to denote shorter and overlapping flights and darker shades for longer flights with little or no overlap.
image captionNot surprisingly, bright hotspots appear in areas where many flight paths coincide with the world’s major cities.
image captionMarkieta found that there was no need to apply a base layer to the images to help viewers identify different parts of the world. The flight paths themselves trace the outlines of all major continents, demonstrating one of the typical patterns of human settlement: living in coastal regions. All images: Michael Markieta, GIS Consultant, Arup. Data from

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