Whilst visualisation must be compelling to be impactful, it must also be accurate in order to have the type of impact which is desired.

For example when telling a story about change, visualisations must represent that change in context. This is particularly important when we are talking about changes in the context of climate.

Whilst before and after images are often attention grabbing, care must be taken these are appropriate in the individual context. Are those changes ‘normal’ relative to well understood seasonal or interannual trends? Or are they truly unusual and/or extreme.

Excellent visualisations in these topics often contextualise data from the current time period, against data from a longer time period.

Risk is also a related and challenging concept for visualisation, where appropriate context must be given to inform readers about how likely something is to have happened and/or happen again in future.


Attributing cause is a further challenge. Whilst we can address the long-term context of events via use of appropriate long-term records, it can still be challenging to truly say, and then accurately visualise why something has/is happening.

Collaboration with experts can help assure that visualisations are using the most suitable data for the story in development, and provide necessary context and caveats that can be added.

Further tips for making accurate visualisations include use of clear but simple labels to provide scale and location information, and the selection of colour scales that show true changes using linear change and contrast in the colours selected.

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