4.5 The Art of Illustrating Climate Science: How NCEI Draws an Inspired Online Following

Wednesday, 9 January 2019: 12:00 AM
North 224A (Phoenix Convention Center - West and North Buildings)
Susan Osborne, TeleSolv Consulting, NOAA/National Centers for Environmental Information, Asheville, NC; and K. V. Matthews, G. Hammer, S. Veasey, J. Fulford, H. McCullough, K. Palubicki, A. Sallis, and T. Maycock

Scientific communication is often inherently complex simply because of its subject matter. From anthropogenic warming to thermodynamics, anomalies, radiative forcing, and paleoclimatology—among a multitude of other terms—climate science is no stranger to complexity. When we communicate climate science to the public, we must strive to make it as easy to understand as possible in addition to making it relevant and memorable.

As the world’s largest archive and curator of environmental information, with data spanning from the ocean floor to the surface of the sun, NOAA National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI) communicates a wide variety of science to people across the globe. We’ve grown a thriving social media audience of nearly 100,000 fans and followers. And, each month, we use our social media to drive thousands of visitors to our website, where they explore our science through easy-to-understand articles. Visitors spend an average of more than three minutes per article on our website—nearly as long as they spend reading online articles from Forbes and The Huffington Post according to Statista.

Many of our online articles and social media posts are accompanied by unique illustrations or animations that enhance our audience’s ability to quickly absorb complex, yet key, information. This presentation examines several of these illustrations and explains how we’ve used them to create more effective content and build an inspired online following. From infographics to animations, our experience can help you make your science more accessible and memorable in a digital world.

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