2023 Shortlist

“Cities and Climate Crisis” series from Nikkei’s investigative reporting team

Entry type: Portfolio

Country/area: Japan

Publishing organisation: Nikkei, Nikkei Asia

Organisation size: Big

Cover letter:

Nikkei is Japan’s largest financial newspaper company with more than 820,000 paying subscribers for its online edition. A main focus of the investigative reporting team, formed in April 2021, is how global heating is affecting urban life. We gathered reporters who have extensive experience covering natural disasters, science and technology. They conceived the project’s theme and framed the overall story.

The “Cities and Climate Crisis” series used multiple data techniques to analyze the reality of the climate crisis looming over densely populated areas. Through the effective use of graphs, images and maps, we examined strategies for protecting cities beyond a century from now.

We reported on how many airports in the world would be below the sea level if it rises by various amounts due to global heating. We mapped how major cities in Japan and abroad would be submerged and how many residents would be affected.

We analyzed the current status of airports and discussed the measures that should be taken to protect them. We also estimated the cost of countermeasures to protect infrastructure.

In the project “Heat Island”, we looked at the relationship between the incidence of heat strokes in Japanese cities and the urbanization rate – a measure of the paved area covered by asphalt and concrete.

We also investigated the threat of “megastorms” – rapidly developing low-pressure systems that can cause major disasters.

The projects explain complex processes using easy-to-understand data. We believe our work provides high-quality and useful information.

The projects involved many designers and engineers who worked to create visually appealing graphics. The designers sorted information and improved its appearance, while engineers created prototypes of interactive graphs and maps. The team prioritized giving the projects a consistent appearance, whether viewed on PCs, smartphones or other devices.

Description of portfolio:

Our “Cities and Climate Crisis” series consists of four infographics.

1.Rising seas threaten world’s airports (available in English)

According to a Nikkei analysis of 5,014 airports around the world, 753 (15%) are located less than 10 meters above sea level. The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) predicts that sea levels will rise by 1 meter by 2100 under a scenario in which greenhouse gas emissions remain high. We used this estimate to conduct a simulation that found 35 airports would be below the sea level if it rose by one meter.

2.‘Zero-meter zones’ expand globally as sea levels rise (available in English)

This project analyzed the impact of sea level rises on coastal cities in various regions, including Tokyo, Japan. The map shows the affected areas according to the degree of sea level rise. We also highlighted the flood control and evacuation measures envisioned for each area.

3.Heat Island: increased risk of heat stroke (Japanese only)

In this project, we addressed the “heat island” phenomenon in Japan: that temperatures are higher in urban areas than elsewhere. The work looked at the impact of temperature rises in major cities, focusing on numbers of heat stroke victims in Tokyo, Osaka, and Nagoya.

4.Threat of megastorms (available in English)

With the help of university researchers, we studied the increase of “bomb cyclones”: sudden drops in atmospheric pressure. We used data from the Japan Meteorological Agency to portray rapidly developing bomb cyclones in a three-dimensional time series. The project used recent trends in typhoon paths to show the increase in precipitation associated with the extreme weather.

Social media users responded very positively to the work and its innovative design. In November 2022, we won a Japan Typography Annual award from the Japan Typography Association.

Project links: