Germany in 2050: A journey into the climate future

Entry type: Single project

Country/area: Germany

Publishing organisation: Süddeutsche Zeitung

Organisation size: Big

Publication date: 2022-07-08

Language: German

Authors: Benjamin von Brackel, Christoph von Eichhorn, Jonas Jetzig, Stefan Kloiber, Sophie Menner, Sören Müller-Hansen, Oliver Schnuck, David Wünschel


Süddeutsche Zeitung’s Data Team is a standalone unit of the newsroom established in 2018, with a focus on data-driven reporting across all topics. The team works closely with specialist editors, graphic designers, and developers to achieve the best result for readers. The team’s goal is to tell stories, explain complex issues, and expose injustice and corruption. They are committed to constantly learning, experimenting with new tools, sources, and storytelling formats. They strive to be transparent with their methodology, source code and raw data, and to provide the best possible experience for Süddeutsche Zeitung readers.

Project description:

The project “Climate 2050” is an in-depth examination of the potential effects of climate change on various regions in Germany by the year 2050. The articles use data and projections from reputable sources such as the German Weather Service and the German Environmental Agency to paint a picture of how temperature, precipitation, extreme weather events, and other factors will change in the coming decades. The interactive tool provided allows readers to explore the potential impact on their own regions. An important read for anyone looking to understand the local effects of the global phenomenon of climate change.

Impact reached:

The project, “Klima 2050”, is a powerful multimedia data storytelling experience that takes readers on a journey through the future of 14 representative regions in Germany, showcasing the impact of climate change in a localized and personal way. By utilizing various scientific studies and expert interviews, as well as models from the Helmholtz Climate Research Center and the German Weather Service, the project presents detailed and comprehensive data on issues such as extreme weather, forest fires, and health hazards caused by bacteria and allergies. The project also features an interactive tool that allows readers to explore the potential effects of climate change in their own region by entering their location or postal code. This innovative approach to data journalism has received overwhelming interest from readers, who appreciate the concrete and detailed reporting on the effects of climate change in Germany. The project was also presented at several conferences, further showcasing its impact and importance.

Techniques/technologies used:

In this project, we used a variety of tools, techniques, and technologies to research, analyze, and present the data on the impact of climate change in Germany. We used satellite data to track the destruction of tree populations, models from the Helmholtz-Klimaforschungszentrum Gerics and the German Weather Service to project future temperature and precipitation patterns, and R to parse, clean, and analyze the data. The data was then presented in scrollable maps and graphics, and an interactive tool was created to allow readers to explore the data for their specific regions. The data was also used to create personalized stories for readers, giving them a better understanding of how climate change will affect their specific area. Additionally, we used a design team, infographics and developers to create a multimedia experience for our readers.

Context about the project:

The project was created in a context where the European summer during which it was published was exceptionally hot and dry, and wildfires even occurred in Germany. This heightened public awareness and concern about the effects of climate change. Additionally, the project was created during the first year of a new German government which expressed the goal to effectively combat climate change, making the topic particularly relevant and timely.

What can other journalists learn from this project?

Other journalists can learn from this project on how to effectively use data and interactive tools to make the impact of climate change more tangible and localized for readers. The use of a variety of data sources, including scientific studies and models, as well as the incorporation of a personalized interactive tool, allows for a comprehensive and in-depth analysis of the specific effects of climate change on different regions in Germany. Additionally, the use of R for data parsing and analysis can also be a useful technique for other journalists to learn and apply in their own data-driven reporting. Overall, this project serves as an example of how to effectively communicate complex and pressing issues such as climate change to a wider audience.

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