I’m taking Alberto Cairo’s excellent online infographics class. For the first few weeks, he gave us very structured assignments: critiquing some published infographics (a terrible one to get us warmed up and then a quite good one to make us think more deeply about it), and then visualising two specific datasets that he provided. For the final assignment he gave us a completely free hand:
This time, I am giving you the freedom to do whatever you want. Choose a topic, gather the appropriate information, and present an idea of how to show that information in graphic form, either as a static display (for print) or an interactive one (for the Web or mobile). If you already feel comfortable with any software tool, try to turn in a finished product. If you are still in the early stages of learning, do hand-drawn sketches (but try to make them readable!).
Melinda had the great idea that I should do something about ocean acidification. The trouble is, everything I can think of that would be better than existing graphics I’ve seen seems to need data that I can’t find and may not exist at all. Specifically, I don’t think anyone’s collected a time series of how acidification has changed across particular areas – all the data I can find are much too sparse to do what I have in mind with. Below is what I proposed in the class – if you happen to know of useful data sources for this I would really, really love to hear from you:
Show the progress of ocean acidification or its consequences, on a very local scale: something along the range of just Puget Sound or just Washington State or just the US West Coast.
EITHER OR BOTH of:
- Very local pH measurements
- Reports of specific impacts like oyster spawning failure
I have a feeling that neither exists in a comprehensive enough way to use, but I’m interested in how to display this information if it did exist, because hopefully one day it will…. I might still do a sketch for the class, and I’d still really appreciate feedback on the concept. Also, if you do happen to know of data sources I’ve missed, please let me know!
How to display
For the pH measurements, I’d like to do a heatmap, preferably animated over time. Specific impact reports aren’t going to be continuous, but could also be an animation over time, with a marker appearing for each incident (e.g. “2010: Willapa Bay oysters failed to reproduce”), and then staying so that people get a sense of the problems accumulating. If I could find both sets of data, I could see presenting them together being quite powerful – the incidents as an overlay on the heat map.
Sources that I have found so far.
- Big NOAA page of links
- video animating global ocean acidity
- Sightline Institute’s series; see especially this report on the effects and this one on the timing
- the most detailed West Coast figure I’ve seen (from this article), though I don’t think they have a time series for it
- a paper that gives a detailed snapshot of the area I’m most interested in, though again it’s just one snapshot in time, and I think they’ve just done one transect rather than areas.
- the state government’s website on the subject