Web Design & Data Viz

See: effects of a changing climate

The final visualization in this series extends the story of the changing climate trends to show the impacts that scientists have observed certain changes to cause. The impacts that are visualized in this interactive are based on the paper Climate Change Impacts on Canada’s Prairie Provinces: A Summary of Our State of Knowledge (2009), which was recommended to me by Dr. Kienzle for background research.  As I read the paper, it was evident that initial effects from temperature changes set off other changes, which set off others, all compounding to impacts with multiple sources cause them. To see how the interconnectedness of the causes and effects added together, I devised a visualization method to map the network with nodes for each level of impact.

Starting with the trend changes in temperature indices, which were indicated in the paper and further supported by Dr. Kienzle’s climate data (fewer frost days, more growing season days), each of the effects of these changes are given a ring of color that correlates with each of its causes. The rings compound as multiple causes contribute to each effect .

The result is a complex web that requires the audience to study the visualization closely to follow the chain of effects. I believe it is in the complexity of this graphic that that point is best made. Tools for reading the graphic are given at the side, so that they can decode the meaning of the rings and the types of effects. Reflecting on the graphical system I chose to visually represent the paper, while the links between the causes and effects were directly pulled from the paper, the compounding of the rings are my addition to illustrate the underlying network present in the information. Consultation with Stefan confirmed that this was a fair assessment and representation. 

This visualization extends the story of the climate data from Dr. Kienzle with the environmental impacts observed by Canada’s scientific community. It also builds on the background information on environmental features in the province provided by the first piece in the series, Here: the natural state of Alberta. The resulting visualization would be considered a starting point for discussing answers to questions like: how does a longer growing season effect Alberta? Or isn’t fewer days under -25°C a good thing?

Download a copy of the paper that this visualization is based on here.