When asked to picture global climate change, it’s hard not to think of melting ice caps and polar bears. However, the daunting truth about climate change is that it contributes to environmental disruptions everywhere, including your own backyard. Cementing the nebulous concept of climate change with hard local data, New York City–based digital design and data infrastructure firm Habitat Seven created the Climate Explorer to support President Obama’s Climate Action Plan and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA)’s Climate Resilience Toolkit. Collating data from NASA, NOAA, the US Geographical Survey, the Environmental Protection Agency and the US Department of the Interior, the site provides views of historical and projected climate change to help citizens of the continental United States understand the scope of threats that climate change represents. The Climate Explorer tool directs visitors to input their location and retrieves projected data specific to that location.
“The main challenge for this site was converting scientific data into an easily understandable, digestible digital format for nonscientific audiences,” says Habitat Seven’s president Jamie Herring. “One of the main complications in depicting climate change data is that there is a range of possible climate change impacts depending largely on the amount of greenhouse gases emitted. As the choices we make impact climate change’s expected rate, it’s important to visually show the different impacts dependent on our choices—so we developed special interactive features that enable users to visualize change over time as well as through different scenarios.” Visitors can also choose to view data by variables, depicting climate change data across time and space; swiping between two different emission scenarios enables visitors to compare how their own impacts will affect the next 80 years of climate change.
The site has garnered attention from various editorial and news outlets, including WNCT, Channel 9 in North Carolina, Michigan Public Radio, Gizmodo, India TV and publications by the Natural Resource Defense Council, and all data has been made shareable, encouraging people to bring the discussion on climate change to social media channels.