Ever lit a candle and thought the flame was beautiful? You lit the match or flicked the lighter to create a fire and love the rushing feeling of fire coming to life? Have you ever looked or stood near a fireplace that had a warm flame?
The fire was controlled in all of the scenarios that I just explained. Now imagine a fire that got out of control and started burning forests, grasslands or parries. This fire is a wildfire, and it doesn’t just burn wildlife; it spreads quickly and can burn communities.
Wildfires have occurred for hundreds of years, and they happen around the world. In the year 2020 alone, Australia had multiple wildfires, and California has been having too many wildfires to count. It is a serious issue that we need to try and find a solution for this issue.
Looking at news articles going back five years, the United States has the most articles about wildfires, which is why I decided to focus on the U.S. today. California and the West Coast of the United States are often devasted by wildfires that start in forests or community neighborhoods and destroy anything and everything in its path.
The issue of wildfires can be brought to life and capture people’s attention through science visualization. Audiences prefer to look at visuals rather than text, so the five visuals below are all different, but they all represent the same thing. Henry D Hubbard said, “There is a magic in graphs. A curve’s profile reveals a whole situation in a flash — the life history of an epidemic, a panic, or an era of prosperity. The curve informs the mind, awakens the imagination, convinces.”
Below are five different science visualizations:
Above is a video of the most recent wildfires in California. I think this video does a phenomenal job showing the audience what is happening with the wildfire. It gives the viewer raw footage, no editing whatsoever, which means that the viewer is seeing everything as it is.
Next graph is a graph that is represented in an unusual way.
This graph above looks like a regular bar graph but is created with squares. It also shows the viewer a different statistic about wildfires. It gives you history about wildfires and when they are most common, allowing our imagination to create patterns.
According to the article Data Visualization 101: How to Design Charts and Graphs, “Your data is only as good as your ability to understand and communicate it, which is why choosing the right visualization is essential.” Data and statistics can be shown in various ways, and it’s up to the curator to decide how they want to portray their data.
This next science visualization is a gif, another way to represent data. It’s a more straightforward visual to understand than the one above. This one is always moving and creates a story of its own. It teaches the viewer multiple things, where the country has the worst droughts, but it also shows where wildfires are most likely to happen.
Next up is an image.
I believe that images often have more power than any other type of visual. Eman Shurbaji said, “A photo story is about one person, place, or situation. It’s the most intimate photo storytelling method because it means the photographer is focusing on one character or scene and letting viewers live through the photos.”
When you look at the image above you, take in the whole picture, but then you also zero in on the details, and you learn more about the image represents the more you look at it. The photo shows you a wildfire, and the way the picture seems, you could be standing there in person seeing this wildfire happen in front of you. You can see the trees burning, which is an extremely powerful image.
This graph shows a more explorative analysis of wildfires in the United States. According to the article Information Visualization — A Brief Introduction explorative mapping data like the one above enables researchers to explore the relationship between wildfire and geography, in a more detailed manor.
Science visualizations can be shown in various ways, and above are five different ways they were represented. It’s important to understand that wildfires can happen at any time, and they can be manmade. We all need to do our part in trying to prevent them from occurring.
“About Wildfires.” MRCC Living With Weather – Wildfires, mrcc.illinois.edu/living_wx/wildfires/index.html.
“A Colorado Summer: Drought, Wildfires and Smoke in 2020: NOAA Climate.gov.” A Colorado Summer: Drought, Wildfires and Smoke in 2020 | NOAA Climate.gov, 20 Aug. 2020, http://www.climate.gov/news-features/event-tracker/colorado-summer-drought-wildfires-and-smoke-2020.
Data Visualziation 101: How To Design Charts and Graphs. HubSpot, cdn2.hubspot.net/hub/53/file-863940581-pdf/Data_Visualization_101_How_to_Design_Charts_and_Graphs.pdf.
Green, Keep Oregon. “Story from Keep Oregon Green: 3 Recent Oregon Wildfires Started by People.” USA Today, Gannett Satellite Information Network, 9 Mar. 2020, http://www.usatoday.com/story/sponsor-story/keep-oregon-green/2020/03/06/3-recent-wildfires-started-people/4967348002/.
“Information Visualization – A Brief Introduction.” The Interaction Design Foundation, http://www.interaction-design.org/literature/article/information-visualization-a-brief-introduction.
Jones, Adrian. “Practical Visual Literacy for Science Communication.” Practical Visual Literacy for Science Communication ” IAN/EcoCheck Blog, ian.umces.edu/blog/2017/03/28/practical-visual-literacy-for-science-communication/.
Ma, Kwan-Liu. Scientific Storytelling Using Visualization. vis.cs.ucdavis.edu/papers/Scientific_Storytelling_CGA.pdf.
“Visual Mapping – The Elements of Information Visualization.” The Interaction Design Foundation, http://www.interaction-design.org/literature/article/visual-mapping-the-elements-of-information-visualization.
“When and Where Are Wildfires Most Common in the U.S.?” The DataFace, thedataface.com/2018/11/public-health/wildfires-map.