Figures for the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Synthesis Report (AR6) by Arlene Birt

As a key figure in the IPCC Synthesis Report, Figure SPM1, panel c, captured global media attention and inspired many related visualizations. Figure SPM1c breaks new ground for IPCC as it ties historical and projected temperatures to human lifespans in a way that makes climate science accessible to non-expert audiences.

The 28 figures of the Synthesis Report were collaboratively designed with 60+ climate scientists, with input and approval by 195 governments. IPCC figures are intended for use by policymakers and Synthesis Report figures build upon data from IPCC working group reports.

Working within IPCC guidelines and processes for figures and government approval, the designer aimed to help non-experts navigate the complex content of the figures using information design techniques. This includes small icons on graph axis that orient viewers at-a-glance to key variables that reoccur throughout figures. Also, handwritten-style annotations that are used throughout the report’s figures highlight/explain points that may be obvious to scientists/experts. Both of these techniques can help reduce cognitive load for viewers and are indicated in the global key for the report (Figure 1.1 of the longer report).

  • Credits
    For SPM1c: 60+ climate scientists from around the world, input and approval by 195 governments, climate stripes by Ed Hawkins, SPM1 figure coordinator Alex Ruane. Collaborators for all Synthesis Report figures include: IPCC AR6 SYR Core Writing Team, Extended Writing Team, Contributing Authors, Scientific Steering Committee, Synthesis Report Technical Support Unit (TSU), as well as Working Group authors, TSU, and designers.
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