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Over the years, people I’ve met have often asked me what I’m working on, and I’ve usually replied that the main thing was a book about Dresden.
I said that to Harrison Starr, the movie-maker, one time, and he raised his eyebrows and inquired, ‘Is it an anti-war book?’
‘Yes,’ I said. ‘I guess.’
‘You know what I say to people when I hear they're writing anti-war books?’
‘No. What do you say, Harrison Starr?’
‘I say, “Why don't you write an anti-glacier book instead?”’
What he meant, of course, was that there would always be wars, that they were as easy to stop as glaciers. I believe that too.
—Kurt Vonnegut, ‘Slaughterhouse-5’
This is a live visualisation of the rhythms of news, weather, and climate - and of the focus of our attention - over the last seven days. Here's what one day, seven days, and (at the start of the project) thirty days look like.
The news is taken from the top stories at Google News UK, which is based on the number of news stories being published online at any one time.
Anti-glacier is also currently recording near-live data on Arctic sea ice coverage, provided by MASIE, the Multisensor Analyzed Sea Ice Extent calculated by the US National Snow and Ice Data Center, and monthly average temperatures provided by the World Bank. These datasets - which stretch over decades, rather than days - are not yet visible in the visualisation. But they will be, given time.
Commenced in March 2014, Anti-glacier will collect data for at least a year - and perhaps longer - in order to generate new visualisations of human attention to current affairs and climate change.
This visualisation is inspired by Argo, a network of some 3,500+ floating, robotic sensors which have been distributed across the world's oceans to measure temperature, salinity, and currents since the early 2000s.
Each sensor drifts at a depth of some 1000 metres, diving to 2000 metres and then returning to the surface to transmit data every ten days, before returning itself to the deep.
This is a map of the Argo network, as of February 2014:
The Argo programme is a collaborative partnership of more than 30 nations from all continents to provide a seamless global array of data gathering robots, allowing any country to explore the ocean environment, and all the data it gathers is available online, for free.
Here, for example, are the trajectory, pressure, temperature, and salinity graphs for Float #6900901, launched by IRD Brest on the 30th of November, 2010, and monitoring the Gulf of Guinea off the west coast of Africa ever since:
If you'd like to know more about climate science I recommend Anti-glacier data suppliers Weather Underground's Climate Science pages. I'm grateful to them, Google, Argo, the NSIDC and the World Bank for supplying data, Radar for commissioning the project, and Adam Whitcroft for the Climacons used on this page.