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.

Save the Bees!

By Sean Soni, Almaha Almalki, Jingxian Zhang, Autumn Jing

The data say that the number of bee colonies in the United States has been rapidly declining over the last decade.  We want to tell this story because bees are the main pollinator of many of our favorite fruits and vegetables, and without bees we could lose these foods forever.  Thus we have created an interactive display for farmer’s markets which shows customers how the price of their purchase would change as the number of bee colonies decline.  When customers check out, their receipt has a QR code that they can take to a kiosk and scan, with the promise of a free packet of seeds as in incentive.  At the kiosk, they can interact with a map of where their produce comes from.  As they slide a slider to manipulate the number of bee colonies, the density of the produce on the map increases or decreases, and the price they would have paid for today’s produce increases or decreases as well.  After the demo is complete, a free packet of local, bee-friendly seeds is dispensed, and the customer is presented with the opportunity to sign a petition to ban bee-killing neonicotinoid pesticides, as well as donate to Save the Bees, an organization studying Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD).  Our data is sourced from the USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service, and we used historical changes in food prices due to the cost of beehive rental to extrapolate how food prices might change in the future.  Although this data is subjective, the exact numbers aren’t as important as the final number:  With zero bees, several fruits and vegetables will cease to be available, no matter how much one is willing to pay.
Our audience is any customer shopping at the farmer’s market.  We believe that these customers are already more aware about their food sources than the average consumer, and are more likely to support our cause.  In addition, implementing our demonstration at a farmer’s market rather than a grocery store allows us to target our message at people who are mainly buying produce, increasing its relevance.  We believe our method is effective because people are more likely to be engaged by the interactive nature of our display, and giving out free seeds encourages people to reciprocate with their support.  Our goals are to help end CCD by raising money to research and prevent this disorder, as well as to garner enough signatures for a petition to Congress to ban neonicotinoid pesticides, which scientists believe are a major contributor to CCD.

Make Bees Great Again!

Team Members: Erick Friis, Krithi Chandrakasan, Sam Resnick, Willy Zhu

The USDA bee colony datasets show an alarming decrease in honey production by state between the years 2000 and 2016. The one exception to this trend is North Dakota, which remains the final safe haven for bees.  However, due to destruction of habitat through increased pesticide use and decrease in conservation efforts, this last home for the American honey bee is being destroyed. We want to tell this story to make people aware of North Dakota’s importance in sustaining the US bee population and the serious threats that lack of preservation legislation poses to these bees.

For our creative data map project we used the power of ten visualization technique to show both the drop in honey bee production and the loss in grassland that is contributing to the demise of the bees. The map initially shows how honey production varies by state over time at the largest scale(showing the whole US). The visualization then descends downward focusing in on North Dakota followed by a specific region in the state, a specific apiary in the region, and finally down to a specific hive in the apiary.  The story narrows down on one bee keeper, Zac Browning and allows the audience to hear his own personal story to gain a grounded, personal point of view on this otherwise large and expansive story. The visualization then quickly reverses direction and the field of view expands outward showing the rapid decrease in grassland in North Dakota and comes to rest after it has panned back to the original starting point. This positive, human interest story narrows down to a personal level while zooming in, then creates a negative, warning story that blows up again to the macroscopic scale.  At the end you are at the same place as in the beginning, but you are left with a new perspective and hopefully the motivation to help preserve grassland and habitat by signing a petition.

Our target audience for this sketch is Americans who want to understand the dynamics of the decline in bee population. This visualization would be particularly effective if it was embedded in a news story on the bee crisis. People who live in North Dakota and other Midwestern states may be more aware of the problem of loss of habitat than people who live in other parts of the country.  Most people have heard the story that we are loosing bees at an alarming rate many times.  This story does not just state this again, rather it gives the reason why and gives people a concrete way to help.  For local North Dakotans the story has a personal “what’s going on in my backyard” nature, and for the rest of Americans, the story educates them  on where this problem is occurring, why it is occurring, and how they can help.

Put simply, our goals for this project are to educate viewers on both the scale of this problem and the forces that are driving it, as well as to motivate them to advocate for solutions. We accomplish the first goal with the use of the power of ten technique. We are able to tell two complementary stories, the first showing the scale of this problem over time and the second showing the direct relation between the problem and the underlying cause. We accomplish the second goal with our call to action, giving viewers instructions and a direct link to support legislation that protects grassland and habitat for American Wildlife like the honey bee.

Endangered Fruits

Presentation here

Team Members: Paul Choi, Miguel Garido, Yi Zeng, Margaret Tian

The data say that the bee population is rapidly declining and that bees are essential to the production of many of our favorite fruits and vegetables. We want to tell this story because we didn’t feel that reading research studies or news articles about the impact of fewer bees on agriculture would feel like a real, actionable problem to everyday people. Our overall goal was to educate people on how they as consumers will be directly affected, and make the problem more personal by relating the loss of bees to the loss of the shopper’s favorite fruit. This sketch only contains the case where a shopper selects watermelon, but we envision that the same process could be applied to many different fruits.

We used the bee data from the Bee Informed Partnership to tell our audience about how declining bee populations puts a lot of things at risk, including our favorite fruits. The target audience is grocery shoppers waiting in line to check out. Our sketch would appear in the form of an interactive touch screen display/quiz that shoppers could quickly navigate through.

The bee data show a drastic decline in bee populations in the past few years. Watermelon production data from the USDA shows that the Southeastern United States produces the majority of US watermelons. Dr. Claire Kremen, assistant professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at Princeton University, found that bees are responsible for up to 80% of pollination for a variety of fruits, so we knew that the large drops in bee population could result in significant drops in fruit production. Since fruits are an everyday product that our audience enjoys, we decided to use the title screen “your favorite fruit is in danger” to draw our audience in.
Maps played a central role in our interactive display. Our biggest issue was smoothly jumping from bee decline to watermelon decline while keeping our audience engaged the whole time. We decided to show bee decline for the entire US, before focusing on the Southeast to transition to watermelon decline, and zoomed back out to show why that fewer watermelons in the Southeast is a problem for all of us. The simple, concise facts combined with cute graphics hopefully make the interactive experience informational and fun.

Buzz About Bees

Sharlene Chiu, Tricia Shi and Zachary Collins

The data says that bees are dying and colonies in many areas are declining in size. We wanted to tell this story because we believe that, although many people know bee populations have been declining, they are unaware of what they can do to help stop it.

Our audience are flower shoppers. Many varieties of flowers offer a means for bees to collect the nectar they use as an energy source. Some can be more impactful than others, allowing bees to gather nectar more easily. People who are already thinking of planting flowers can make decisions that could have an impact on bee populations in their area.

Our goals are to have them understand the problems bees are facing, recognize that planting flowers can help and aid them in picking flowers that both grow well in their area and easily allow bees to collect the nectar they need to survive.

Our sketch is an interactive display that can help localize the problem to the individual. The flow works as follows. We would set up the display in a supermarket / plant nursery / flower shop with an opening display that consists of “Did You Know” bee facts and a clickable map that invites individuals to learn more about bees in their state. Upon clicking they’ll be presented with information about the good bees do for them in their state – plants they help pollinate, honey they produce. Then it will transition to damage being done to bees – Both locally and nationally. This highlights the problem at hand and localizes it to where the individual is from. We present facts like how many colonies have declined over the past year and that bumblebees have recently been placed on the endangered species list. We will then pose that planting particular flowers can help bee populations. Then, we would allow the user to select between different flowers, pulling up a map of what counties in the state these flowers grow well in. Finally, it provides a link where one can learn more information about the problems bees are facing.

Our sketch takes a national problem and localizes to the area the individual is from. It demonstrates a simple way they can help through a platform that is very inviting and easy to use. We attempt to help them understand the existence of the bee decline and point them in the direction toward flowers that can help bees successfully collect the nectar they need. Since they are probably already thinking of purchasing flowers, showing them which kinds help could sway their decisions.

The map display we utilize is important in allowing us to get our message across. We want to provide the buyer information about what grows well in and around their local area. We present the flowers in a checkout guide manner – allowing them to select between them and see pictures of what the fully grown version looks like. Without the bees in mind, this could already be effective in helping them pick out what flowers they like. Giving them options among the kinds that help bees the most pushes them toward making a decision that could influence populations in their area. Placing it on a map familiar to them allows them to compare the locations in which they grow effectively and couldn’t easily be replicated using another form.





Take Action Against Gas Leaks in Your Town!

by Mikayla Murphy, Divya Goel, Tina Quach, Brandon Levy

The data say that natural gas leaks are a problem throughout Massachusetts, and it can take Eversource (formerly called NStar), the utility company for 51 of the state’s towns, as long as several months to fix them from the day they’re reported.  We want to tell this story because gas leaks are a big problem with major environmental, economic, and public health consequences, and we want to motivate Massachusetts residents to take action to improve their lives and local community and develop a habit of practicing civil engagement.

Our audience is environmentally conscious adults living in Massachusetts towns where the natural gas is supplied by Eversource. Our goal is to inform these residents about gas leaks in and around their hometowns so that they can judge whether the leaks are being addressed effectively and, if not, demand that Eversource address gas leaks with greater urgency. By addressing leaks as soon as possible, we can reduce their many negative impacts.

We drew our data from NStar gas leak data, which lists gas leaks, the date of report, the date of repair, the gas leak location, and the grade, a rating of the potential danger*. We’ve presented this data through an interactive website module (see mockup here) meant to be shared through climate change and gas leak response advocacy groups in the Massachusetts Area (such as Mothers Out Front). The module

    • prompts the audience for the town they live in
    • presents information regarding why they should care about gas leaks
    • raises questions about how well gas leaks in their hometown are managed by Eversource (How many gas leaks were reported in my town compared to other towns? How long did it take before the gas leaks were repaired? How does my town compare to the towns near me and to the state as a whole?)
    • answers these questions through informative data visualizations
    • asks audience to voice their concerns to local government and energy providers through social media and direct email and/or phone communication



We made 3 visualizations. The first visualizes the total number of gas leaks that each town reported in a choropleth map centered on the user’s specific town and allows him or her to compare the number of gas leaks to that of the surrounding towns (normalized by population). The second is a choropleth map to visualize the average time from report to repair for each town, where darker colors correspond to longer times to repair. We use the color red to convey the urgency and alarm that should be associated with the need to respond to gas leaks. Once again, the audience can easily compare its town to other towns and realize that there is a need to push for faster responses to gas leaks. We emphasize this through our third visualization: a number line plotting where the town lies in relation to other towns and the state as a whole in a more explicitly quantitative way. Our module is effective overall because it conveys information in a visual manner that is easily understood and makes comparison easy. It also uses the target audience’s environmentally conscious attitudes and town pride to motivate them to take action.


Grade 1 is in a contained space and so considered potentially explosive.  Grade 2 is near a foundation and so must be watched.  Grade 3 is everything else no matter how big the amount of gas leaking from the pipe, so low-priority Grade 3 leaks could potentially emit large amounts of gas before they’re fixed.

Home Sweet Home

Home Sweet Home

Ashley Wang, Kimberly Yu, Margaret Yu

The data say that honey consumption in the U.S. is increasing, but the yield per bee colony is declining in the U.S. We want to tell this story because bees are very important for the pollination of approximately one third of the United States’ crop species, including a variety of fruits and nuts. Given the inversely proportional relationship between honey consumption and yield per bee colony and the phenomenon of colony collapse disorder, beekeepers should be well-informed of the situation of bee colonies in their state. Our audience is potential hobbyist beekeepers. Our goals are to provide beekeepers with information about trends in yield per colony in their state as well as resources for becoming a beekeeper.

We looked at USDA datasets from the years 2000 – 2016 as well as the winter loss rate from the years 2007 – 2016 and yearly honey consumption data from the USDA. From the winter loss rate data, we see that the number of bee colonies is decreasing at higher rates.

We used Tableau to create a time series of the yield per bee colony in the United States between the years 2000 – 2016. The hex tiles represent the honeycomb constructed by bees, and each hex tile corresponds to a U.S. state. The golden-yellow hues represent the amount of honey and the yield per bee colony. The darker the hue, the higher the yield.

Presenting the data as a time series using hex-tile maps provides the audience, potential hobbyist beekeepers, with relevant information on how productive/healthy bee colonies are in different states.

Clicking on a state will reveal more detailed statistics on metrics such as production, stocks, and average price per pound as well as resources such as links to websites for beekeepers in a specific state and general beekeeping resources. We included this user interaction because we feel that potential hobbyist beekeepers could benefit greatly from learning about the details of beekeeping within a specific state.

National Honey Bee Day (the third Saturday of August) would be a promotional day where Amazon would display the slides on their website and have a sale on bee starter kits, and grocery stores can set up a special booth selling honey and bee starter kits as well as displaying screens with the slides.

Bee Kit

The Bee Kit

Meghan Kokoski, Nina Lutz, Nikki Waghani

The data says that the bee population is on the decline and this has a larger effect than just the cost of honey. We wanted to tell this story because many people are aware that the bee population is declining, but they lack the “so what”, and can be unsure of how to help the situation. According to FOX news, “The honey bee contributes to a third of the country’s food supply”. This comes mainly in the forms of fresh fruits and vegetables.

For our data visualization, we used the historical bee data to create a simple, yet powerful map. The map displays outlines of the states which currently (2017) have 60% or more of their pre-crisis populations. Based on research we determined the bees were at healthy rate in 1990, thus we used the historical data from 1990 to calculate the population differences.  

We envision our map being the attention grabbing sign for an activist group at a farmer’s market. The data visualization will have a titled overlaid asking “Is your state on this map?” This will intrigue shoppers at the farmer’s market to come to the booth. At the booth bee care packages will be handed out. Included in these packages are items that can help individuals do their part to improve the bee population. There will be seeds, bee-friendly local honey, a water basin, and information on how to take further measures.  


We believe the farmer’s market will be an effective place for our visualizations because the audience, farmer’s market shoppers, are primed to care about the bee crisis. Without bees to pollinate produce, the fresh fruits and vegetables found at a farmer’s market would cease to exist.

Shopper that were aware of the bee crisis would welcome the bee kit and further information on how to help. Though, if shoppers were unaware of the importance of bees, they will be drawn in by the visualization and learn about the connection. They will have an interest, because as farmer’s market shoppers, they already enjoy the benefits of bees.