Surging Seas


If you are among the 50% of Americans [Gallup, 2011] who worry about global warming, it can be hard to know exactly what to worry about. Polar Bears gone extinct? Famine in Africa? Shortened Summer ski season on Mt. Hood? For most of us that aren’t directly affected by these issues, global warming remains kind of a vague concern. Scientists have collected reams of data documenting the effects of global warming, but it’s difficult to visualize what this means, and how it might affect our lives in the future. I came across two visual presentations this month that helped clear things up for me.

Surging Seas. This project collects data on sea level rise, storm surge, and tides for thousands of coastal communities in the United States, and presents it in a familiar map interface. My hometown of Portland, Oregon doesn’t see much increase in flooding risk. But when I clicked over to Cape May, New Jersey, the map told a different story. A big storm (1-in-6 chance to occur by 2020) would flood about 30% of all homes in the area. [Source: Climate Central]

Trend & Variation. People love to speculate about the weather. Unseasonably warm in February? Must be global warming! But there’s a big difference between climate and weather, and this fun animation makes it easy to understand. [Source: Teddy TVNorge]


Joshua Cohen is a Principal at Fat Pencil Studio