Marine forests – Natures own carbon capture and storage

Kelp forests and seagrass meadows soak up carbon dioxide and help protect our coasts against rising seas. Just two reasons why we should learn to love our marine forests.

Gif: Catherine Jex

Date Completed: 2018

The Brief: Incorporate two detailed academic illustrations into a popular science article, depicting the processes by which kelp forests and seagrass meadows store carbon.

Key Features: Affinity designer . Tumult Hype Pro . GitHub

Client: Forskerzonen . ScienceNordic

Media Type: Online news . Magazine

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This interactive graphic accompanies an article written by scientists for Forskerzonen and ScienceNordic outlining why we should all learn to love marine forests.

Explore the world of Blue Carbon in our interactive graphic above, to see how Nordic kelp forests and seagrass meadows can soak up, transport, and store CO2. Problems viewing the graphic? Try rotating your mobile phone, or click here to view in a new browser window. (Graphic: Catherine Jex / ScienceNordic and ForskerZonen)

 

The Concept

Marine forests include kelps along rocky shores and seagrass meadows, saltmarsh, and mangroves, which thrive in sandy sediments. What makes them so special, according to the scientists, is their two-pronged approach to help combat climate change. They not only capture carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere and lock it away as “Blue Carbon” in the ocean, they also help mitigate some of the impacts of climate change, including sea-level rise, coastal flooding, and ocean acidification.

My challenge was to help the scientists explain how marine forests do this. When they first submitted their article it contained two illustrations that aimed to do this. But, they were hard to understand as a non-expert, and almost impossible to read when embedded in the article online, especially when viewing it on a mobile device – an important consideration when preparing data visualisations as mobile devices accounted for around 50 per cent of users to these websites.

 

How I did it

My solution was to redraw the images entirely in a flat vector format, and animating them to allow the reader to scroll between different types of marine forrest settings and see each of the processes in action. The user can switch from one type of marine forest to another using the controls at the bottom of the animation. They can also return to the start screen, click on an information button to learn more about the graphic and link to the original article. It also includes an additional interactive screen, where users can learn additional facts about marine forests.

All graphics were produced in Affinity Designer, with additional vector graphics edited from Vecteezy.com. Each element and the various scenes were assembled and annotated in Tumult Hype Pro. The graphic is responsive, and displays best on device screen sizes larger than an iPhone 5.

Explore the world of Blue Carbon in our interactive graphic above, to see how Nordic kelp forests and seagrass meadows can soak up, transport, and store CO2. Problems viewing the graphic? Try rotating your mobile phone, or click here to view in a new browser window. (Graphic: Catherine Jex / ScienceNordic and ForskerZonen)

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