This special feature focuses on a little-known aspect of climate change. We explain the relevance of the permafrost and observe the result of this layer of subsoil layer melting. Using maps and animation the story gives the reader an overview of scientific reports studying the consequences of the rising water level of lakes and temperature anomalies
What makes this project innovative?
The project provides a guide to the essence behind a very technical topic. The use of maps, frame-by-frame animation, and other elements explore the magnitude of the problem and show how little importance to date has been assigned to the topic
What was the impact of your project? How did you measure it?
The Tibetan plateau’s melting permafrost is not an easy sell but Google News promoted the story and the weekly French newspaper Courrier International bought the rights to republish resulting in thousands of views in the first days of release. Heated readers’ discussions on twitter defending and attacking the article helped raise awareness of this under-reported topic
Source and methodology
Most of the technical explanations come from the Global Terrestrial Network For Permafrost (GTN-P) and studies reports made by James G. Bockheim and Jeffrey S. Munroe from the Department of Soil Science of the University of Wisconsin The reports from research by Qingbai Wu for the Chinese Academy of Sciences of Beijing was very useful for data about lake water levels, rain, evaporation and other climatic observations in the Tibetan Plateau region. The carbon estimations were collected by articles in Harvard Review, Nature Magazine, The Guardian UK, Carbon Brief UK, the Carbon Tracker Initiative, IEA and data analysis on carbon dioxide collected by Information is Beautiful in a post for the Guardian, below a link to that data set: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1Uso-ut66MlAh2zOOcv0u0ItuVFsaIV0AYmqwTxRITVg/edit?usp=sharing The Arctic Portal, US National Snow and Ice Data Center, US National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), US Global Forecast System (GFS), National Centers for Environmental Prediction (NCEP), US National Weather Service and the WorldClim Global Climate Data were all valuable sources to get data for the maps which were processed using QGIS and styled with Adobe Illustrator Historical imagery for lakes evolution was made with Google Earth imagery, LANDSAT and Sentinel, the elevation profiles and other data was obtained through CGIAR-CSI SRTM Digital Elevation Data from NASA
Marco Hernandez, Pablo Robles, Darren Long