Last July was a crazy month full of flood news all over the world. I remember seeing impressive videos and images of the floods in China and Germany, and digging a little deeper I found many more reports about it from around the world. I tried to put some things together, but time and other projects played a trick and the project became material for #infofails.
Some times taking notes of things isn’t enough for me. One or two illustrator artboards with basic ideas have become the new “office whiteboard sessions” since we started remote work. Quick sketches and some data samples usually help me to organize myself better.
I collected some data from NASA including the PPS and MERRA-2 to visualize precipitation. It was so cool when I saw the data of total rainfall in a month over the planet. Is curious to see how dynamic our planet is isn’t?
Whenever I have a global data set, I always look at how things are for my family and friends in Costa Rica. I remember that in July I had seen videos of flooded areas in Turrialba, a region in the Atlantic region of the country. And yes, the accumulated data showed that intense blue layer near the border with Panama.
Of course, there were other much worse areas that saw terrifying amounts of precipitation causing dozens of deaths, western India for example was one of those areas. I continued to explore a bit more on the map and checking against the flood reports I found to find points of interest and to highlight later in the story.
The testing continued
One aspect to consider was how to visualize the data in the end. There was even a 3D spinning globe in the process… As you can imagine it was chaos displaying flood reports, animated rain data, and 3D navigation all at the same time.
However, one of my favourite pieces was not the maps. There were some small graphics to condense powerful messages had something interesting too. Within them was this simple stacked bar chart where each block showed the total precipitation each month in Zhengzhou, just by putting the amount of water they received on July 20 next to it was really impressive. This is real evidence of how extreme our planet’s climate is becoming.
BTW, there’s also a great graphic from the South China Morning Post friends explaining the huge amount of water that Zhengzhou received over the downpours [ check that story here ]
A few years ago I was working on a graphic about extreme temperatures of the earth, it was happening the 2019 polar vortex in the US and at the same time Australia was on 40° C on the other side. In my head, the perfect title was “Earth’s Goldilocks Climate.” It sounds crazy but it is actually very common, our planet is full of those strange contrasts all the time.
In July China was having its own ‘goldilocks’ event, or kind of, because wasn’t temperature. As enormous amount of water flooded train stations and caused chaos in Henan, south of there a nine-month drought hit Fujian province.
Similar situations occurred in the Middle East, in Afghanistan a long drought was worsening the already difficult situation of the Afghans. Ironically, extreme rains in the border areas also caused flash flooding, while the country as a whole has not seen any rain for months.
NASA’s MODIS/Terra offers also daily and monthly averages of surface temperature. This was some other stuff I was considering for this story. It’s incredible to see how high the temperatures go in the region. There’s also an other cool data set of monthly temp. anomalies here in case you want to explore the world too.
Anyway, none of these charts, maps or data made it into a true story on Reuters, but it was fun collecting, preparing and sketching ideas for it. And of course, in the end it became an average #infofails story here. Maybe later we will take back again this story, unfortunately extreme weather events are becoming more and more frequent
About #infofails post series:
Graphics that are never formally published. Those are maybe tons of versions of a single graphic or some floating concepts and ideas, all part of my creative process. All wrapped up in #infofails, a compilation of my creative process and failures at work.
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