The Arctic Ice Project

The Arctic Ice Project

by Aina Martinez Zurita / Christian Feld / Kevin Zhang / Lawrence Sun

We worked with the “Multisensor Analyzed Sea Ice Extent – Northern Hemisphere” data set. The data shows that the ice cover is in the shrinking over time. We want to tell the story of what consequences this might have for the animals living in the Northern Hemisphere and for our own lives.


The data not only provides the numbers of the ice extent but also the shape and location of the ice. We want our audience to see the world through the eyes of the animals living there: with the ice melting, their habitat gets smaller and smaller. In our map project we want to transfer this experience to a person living in the U.S.


The core of our project is a two-part map which simultaneously portrays the extent of the Arctic sea ice (right) and a standard map where everything is blacked out except a circle which represents the regions you can reach. The circle has the same area as the sea ice extent and is centered around a location that the viewer can determine. The default location is where the viewer currently is.


The slider below the map allows the viewer to change the year and visualize what it would be like to have their living space melting away each year. In a next iteration of the project, we would show notifications as landmarks such as the Statue of Liberty melt away. Furthermore, to get a second layer of reading and dig more into the data, there is a graph below the maps, which show the increase of CO2 emissions over time.


We see our project as part of a museum exhibition on climate change. The map is adjacent to related exhibits which display the impact of CO2 on the climate. We want to target people that care about the environment and are looking for concrete ways for getting involved. After exploring the map, we direct them to take action by calling their elected officials and oppose H.R. 861: To terminate the Environmental Protection Agency.


We believe that our double map is an effective tool for bringing the abstract idea of “melting sea ice” closer to the viewer, transferring something far away at the North Pole into the viewer’s own geographic region.