Scientists scramble to harvest ice cores as glaciers melt

Country/area: Singapore

Organisation: Reuters Graphics

Organisation size: Big

Publication date: 13/9/2021

Credit: Cassandra Garrison, Clare Baldwin and Marco Hernandez

Biography: The Reuters graphics team publishes visual stories and data. We typically cover all areas of the news, with content ranging from climate to financial markets. The team conceptualises, researches, reports, and executes many of the visual stories published.

Project description:

Scientists are racing to collect ice cores – along with long-frozen records they hold of climate cycles – as global warming melts glaciers and ice sheets. Some say they are running out of time. And, in some cases, it’s already too late. This visually rich data-led piece synthesizes video, photo, illustration and detailed graphics to guide a reader through complex data to convey the real world stakes behind the science.

Impact reached:

The story explored the amount of ice lost daily as scientists were left in the lurch unable to execute some of their climate science experiments. This was not a well known fact to most readers and the irony of climate change making climate data harder to obtain was not lost on them. This story really drove home how scientists are fighting to save the most important records on climate we have.

Techniques/technologies used:

A combination of QGIS, Adobe illustrator and Blender to generate maps and illustrations in the story.

What was the hardest part of this project?

The hardest aspect, as with any highly technical science based story, was to get that science right while making it accessible to the average reader. We had to work to find the right balance between explanatory text and accessible visuals to achieve that goal, with appropriate illustrations and maps to clarify the work and obstacles scientists were up against.

What can others learn from this project?

Complex stories like this one often require deep thought. A text story may not have illustrated what these scientists are doing to capture climate records. Visualising the process and extent of work they do give readers a much clearer picture.

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