Data Is Plural

... is a weekly newsletter of useful/curious datasets.

2020.05.20 edition

Excess deaths, trade agreements, US forests, historical crop yields, and Victorian fiction.

Excess deaths. The Economist has published the data behind its estimates of excess deaths due to COVID-19. The data repository currently covers 20 countries; it provides recent weekly/monthly death totals, officially-counted COVID-19 death, and average historical death totals for the same time periods. Related: Data journalist James Tozer’s introductory Twitter thread. [h/t Sharon Machlis]

Trade agreements. The Design of Trade Agreements database collects information about customs unions, free trade agreements, and other similar treaties signed between 1948 and 2018. It currently includes more than 800 agreements, plus additional negotiations, accessions, withdrawals, consolidations, and amendments. For each agreement, the database indicates the its name, member countries, year of signature, and a number of policy-specific variables. [h/t Erik Gahner Larsen]

US forests. The US Department of Agriculture’s National Forest Type Dataset shows the geographic distribution of the country’s “forest types” — defined as ”logical ecological groupings of species mixes.” (Examples include “deciduous oak woodland” and “subalpine fir.”) To estimate the extent of each forest type, the dataset’s developers combined satellite imagery with “nearly 100 other geospatial data layers, including elevation, slope, aspect, and ecoregions.” Related: The Washington Post has used the dataset to map fall foliage and forests where Christmas-y trees grow. [h/t Joe Fox]

Historical crop yields. The Global Dataset of Historical Yields combines data from agricultural censuses and satellite sensors to estimate the annual yields for four major crops — maize, rice, wheat, and soybean — annually from 1981 to 2016, for each 0.5-degree square on the planet. Related: The dataset’s authors describe their methodology and the latest update.

Victorian fiction. At the Circulating Library “offers a biographical and bibliography database of nineteenth-century British fiction.” Launched by literature professor Troy J. Bassett in 2007, the searchable, browseable, downloadable database now contains information on more than 19,000 titles by more than 4,000 authors.