Talking about climate change

in 7 seconds


Data and Digital Storytelling Lead, 360info


A figure from my thesis.

A graphic showing increasing spring temperatures over time.

I used to be a climate + health researcher

Worked with CLEX and MCCCRH on climate change communication

Now I’m a data journalist with

360info is an open access global information agency that tackles the world’s biggest challenges and offers practical solutions.

Keen to collab with research groups and media outlets!

Screenshot of 360info’s GitHub account


  1. Short vs long read
  2. Language, jargon and complexity
  3. Uncertainty in spatial data
  4. Conclusions


(Code for these slides is at

Short and long reads

TV graphics: the short read

TV graphcs: the long read

Long view bad ❌ Long view better ☑️
Short view bad ❌ Bad chart Requires context or time
Short view good ☑️ Misleading/reductive/ oversimplified 🥳

Layered complexity: climate stripes

Climate stripes in their original form

Layered complexity: climate stripes

Climate stripes in their original form

Climate stripes with X axis labels

Climate stripes as a barchart

Climate stripes as a labelled barchart


An outline of Australia. A good chunk of eastern Australia is shaded in orange, while a path in central-western Australia is shaded in light blue.

Temperature jargon

Relating climate to weather


daily maxima

maximum daily maximum

area-averaged temperature

(Possible) alternative

daytime temperatures

hottest day

temperature across Australia

Using less jargon

A satellite map, featuring reported temperature trends in different parts of South Australia

Using less jargon

Graham Creed talking about how changes in Australian winter temperature relate to levels of global warming

Rainfall projections
and uncertainty

Perth is drying out in the winter

Cool season total rainfall (mm)

Perth has lost over 25% of its rainfall in the cooler months (April to October).

These months are critical for the growing season.


  • Winter rainfall going down
  • Bad for agriculture
  • We expect the decline to continue
  • Less warming = less decline


  • This decline is clearly in the cool season (esp. winter)
  • We have seasonal rainfall projection figures, but…
  • Only annual maps (not seasonal)

Establish critical time for agriculture

Only mention of seasonality is here 😔

Establish observed decline

(These are annual figures - note smaller trend)

Continue to future projections

Note that legend is the secondary way of establishing colour scale

  • (Good if it gets republished online but unlikely to be read quickly, especially at this size)

Annotation establishes range and headline

Visual alternatives for uncertainty


  • Great for an interactive… not so much for broadcast 😔

(Di/tri)chromatic maps

  • Too esoteric for TV audiences 🤔
  • Probably violate contrast guidelines as well

Non-visual alternatives for uncertainty

Choosing stories where we can be clear

  • (But recognising that stories featuring uncertainty are still important and looking for the best way to tell them)

Highlighting sources of uncertainty where they’re relevant, instead of putting all the fine print on all the time


Graphics should be digestible quickly…
but still useful if read for longer

Use language and context to reduce cognitive load

You have many tools for conveying complexity…
and not just visual ones!