Here: the natural state of Alberta

Created with Processing

Created with Processing

The first visualization in the Here | Now | Look | See series focuses on building a foundational knowledge of the natural features in Alberta. Working from the text Natural Regions and Subregions of Alberta (2006) by the Natural Regions Committee, I charted eight key features for each of the six natural regions and the twenty-one subregions. This included their size, mean temperature in the warmest month, mean temperature in the coldest month, vegetation, terrain, wetlands and open water, land uses, as well as a feature distinctive to that area. These features were chosen based on the background information that is needed to better understand the environmental impacts of climate change, which is displayed in the fourth visualization in this series. Each feature was then graphically coded as rings around the title of the region to create twenty-one unique mandalas.


The graphic coding for each ring reflects the data it represents: precipitation, temperature, vegetation, and physiography:

  • The precipitation ring is encoded as raindrops, each representing 5mm. The display of quantity references the method of measuring precipitation, in bucket-like devices at the climate stations.
  • The temperature ring references the design of thermometers, where 0 is in the middle and positive temperatures are above, and negative temperatures below.
  • The vegetation ring displays the main vegetation types for each area as illustrations. Given that specific tree and grass types are not common knowledge, having the visual reference was critical to linking the information to what it represents.
  • Finally the physiography of the landscape is a simple reference to the description of the land given by the reference author, as well as the elevation range. The rotation of the two suggests the diversity of the landscape within this range, rather than a static uniformity.