Permafrost Atlas

What is it?

The Arctic Permafrost Atlas is a key outcome of the Nunataryuk project. Edited by GRID-Arendal together with all Nunataryuk project partners, it will present state-of-the-art knowledge about permafrost and the impacts of permafrost thaw on human communities in the Arctic.

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The print and digital publication will be a highly visual product. Covering over 150 pages, it will include maps, illustrations, drone imagery, and photographs, as well engaging text based on the latest permafrost science. As an interdisciplinary publication, it will both focus on the nature sciences of permafrost, but also the Arctic communities and people whose lives revolve around permafrost and explore strategies they can use to adapt to permafrost thaw.
photos story 03The book will include a series of portraits of Indigenous people and others who live and work in the Arctic, to bring personal stories to the broader permafrost narrative. Scientists from all 26 Nunataryuk partner institutions are contributing their latest research, data, visuals, and ideas to the atlas.

 

How is it made?

The work on the Arctic Permafrost Atlas started back in 2019, when the GRID-Arendal PI Tina Schoolmeester together with Runa Lindebjerg and Lisa Hymas visited the coordinating partner AWI in Potsdam. This first workshop determined the direction the new atlas should take based on the already existing publications and set a preliminary timeline for the production.

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After the ground had been laid, the atlas was handed over to Levi Westerveld, who has been developing the concept since then and is the editor of the Arctic Permaforst Atlas. Levi is a cartographer by education and has been working at GRID Arendal in various science visualization projects.


After the table of content of the atlas was drafted, a first task was to find out all the latest data available for each topic covered in the publication. This scoping work was supposed to take place in breakout sessions during our annual meetings, but as the pandemic hit Europe, and the world, in early 2020, we had no other choice than to move online.


In March 2021, as part of our online annual meeting, GRID-Arendal organized an interactive workshop for all scientists to contribute with ideas, and data, to the table of contents of the atlas. In the workshop, project scientists were asked to share three types of information on topics that will be covered by chapters in the atlas – for example, the impact of permafrost thaw on Arctic coastlines.

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Read here “You are muted” How researchers across the world came together digitally to share knowledge about permafrost. A story about the Nunataryuk Arctic Permafrost Atlas interactive workshop.

 

The online workshop was held in Mural, an online platform that allows users to add post-its, images, and text in a virtual panel. In less than 45 minutes, the enthusiastic and knowledgeable Nunataryuk researchers made over 640 individual contributions. These included post-its with text and screenshots of maps and datasets.

When the table of contents was ready, it was time to move on and start the visual design of the atlas. Maps are perfect for visualizing environmental variables such as snow cover distribution, temperature anomalies, or population density. But when it comes to visualizing data pertaining to the social sciences, a lot of work remains to be done to develop the right cartographic language. Take, for example, the ways that coastal erosion from permafrost thaw affects human habitation. How to go about visualizing and trying to communicate the social implications of such a change? Of course, it is possible to map current or projected changes in coastlines, but how to capture in visuals what this means on the ground for communities or their cultural heritage? Some of these challenges will require us to think outside the box and draw inspiration from other leaders in visual communication as we produce this atlas.

 

Read here "Behind the scenes: Making maps for the first Arctic Permafrost Atlas". A background story how the maps of the Arctic Permafrost Atlas are produced.

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In the summer and fall of 2021, all draft maps and graphics for the introductory chapter of the atlas, and the chapter on permafrost in other areas were drafted. Simultaneously, scientific writers have been taking on meetings with permafrost researchers, reviewing literature, and drafting text to go with each section of the publication.


To ensure the highest quality of the design, GRID-Arendal set up an Advisory Board for Cartography Design. The board includes of five skilled cartographers and graphic designers with expertise in the world of map making, publishing, and communicating science and stories to broad audiences.

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Read here "Behind the scenes of the Arctic Permafrost Atlas: Progress update & the Advisory Board for Cartography and Design". A background story about the talented designers advising on the Arctic Permafrost Atlas.

 


Timeline?


The remaining draft content of the atlas will be put together in the first half of 2022. The second half of that year will be used to review, polish, and tweak all aspects of the publication. The publication date for the print and digital version of the atlas is April 2023. Please check in here for more news as the date approaches!