Through a series of data-driven graphics, stunning photography, video and drone footage, Reuters unveiled the science — and the scientists — involved in tracking environmental change in Greenland and the impact of sea level rise on the world.
What makes this project innovative?
For both journalists and scientists, climate change is difficult to document. It most often happens imperceptibly — a tenth of a degree increase in temperature, a few less inches of rain, a slowly melting ice sheet. Scientists have had the computational power to understand global warming for only a few decades, and the numbers are sobering. But where does the data come from? Through a multi-part series combining 3D graphics, data, video, drone and still photography, satellite imagery and animations, Reuters unveiled in rich detail and presented in an accessible way how the scientific effort to study climate change is often fraught with "mind-boggling" challenges, how much the Greenland Ice Sheet is melting, and what the sea-level rise numbers mean for human life.
What was the impact of your project? How did you measure it?
The project and its individual elements (pictures, videos and graphics) were widely shared on social media, including Twitter and Instagram, and were picked up by numerous news websites/apps including CNN Digital, ABC News, Apple News and MSN. Readers spent an average of four to five minutes on our interactives. The project received wide praise from the scientific community for its accuracy and unbiased reporting and was selected for a panel at this year's SXSW as a part of their "Future of Oceans" programming.
Source and methodology
The project involved an immense amount of data gathering and analysis over the course of six months in 2018. NASA mission data obtained by Reuters allowed us to map the underwater terrain of two glaciers in northwestern Greenland and explain to readers why those two neighboring glaciers are melting at vastly different rates, data from a draft U.N. report obtained by Reuters was used to show how much sea levels would rise based on different scenarios and, specific analysis conducted by researchers for Reuters let us visualize how the melting of the Greenland Ice Sheet has intensified over the past four decades. In addition to analyzing a large trove of scientific data, we conducted interviews with more than 10 leading scientists and on-the-ground reporting in Greenland. In March 2018, Reuters flew with a group of NASA scientists who are mapping the loss of ice in Greenland, part of a cutting-edge effort to understand how warming oceans melt coastal glaciers — a key factor in improving uncertain forecasts for sea-level rise. The trip allowed us to produce a series of graphics, animations and photography that explained to readers why NASA researchers need to fly along a precise path in the air, year after year, in order to get reliable measurements of the Greenland Ice Sheet. In June, Reuters captured rare, dramatic calving footage while camping out on the Helheim glacier in Greenland. The glacier lost more than 10 billion tons of ice in that single event. We were able to combine our footage with satellite data and imagery to reveal the Helheim's receding glacier front.
Christine Chan, Lucas Jackson, Elizabeth Culliford, Travis Hartman, Alister Doyle, Jillian Kitchener, Adam Wiesen, Jeong Suh, Ashlyn Still, Mattew Weber, Hwei Wen Foo, Brian Thevenot, Richard Valdmanis