Climate change is the greatest menace in history of mankind. In 2020, »Der Spiegel« dedicated an entire issue to this global threat. As part of this project, I designed, researched and produced a series of four large infographic pages. The focus was not only on conveying the information, but also on the design. This was because this number was also intended as a test case for »Der Spiegel«’s new print layout, and as a prototype for the new visual standard for infographics.

My concept evolved under the motif »Fire, water, earth, air – The four elements spiral out of balance«. Thus, one graphic should focus on forest fires, one about the arctic sea ice, another one about drought and the fourth on air pollution.

The process

All pages are based on data analysis I conducted for this project. I used Python for the data wrangling and the necessary calculations. Most charts are plotted using the Python libraries Matplotlib and Altair. For building the maps, I used QGIS. For polishing and composing the pages, I used Adobe Illustrator.

I: Arctic sea ice

II: Drought in Germany
For this chart, I aggregated data from the Helmholtz UFZ’s German Drought Monitor. I was particularly impressed by the bottom chart showing the large share of Germany’s soil being affected by drought in the years following 2018.

III: Air pollution
This graphic was produced by my former colleague Lina Moreno.

IV: Wildfires
The years 2019 and 2020 marked devastating wildfire seasons in some regions. To clarify the dimensions, I wanted to compare these years with the previous seasons. I calculated the global wildfire charts based on data obtained via NASA’s Fire Information for Resource Management System (FIRMS). The bottom section focuses on the situation in Germany. It correlates the number of fires with soil drought and lies out the reasons for wildfires.