Cognitive and psychological science insights to improve climate change data visualization

Jordan Harold (Lead Author), Irene Lorenzoni, Thomas F. Shipley, Kenny R. Coventry

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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Visualization of climate data plays an integral role in the communication of climate change findings to both expert and non-expert audiences. The cognitive and psychological sciences can provide valuable insights into how to improve visualization of climate data based on knowledge of how the human brain processes visual and linguistic information. We review four key research areas to demonstrate their potential to make data more accessible to diverse audiences: directing visual attention, visual complexity, making inferences from visuals, and the mapping between visuals and language. We present evidence-informed guidelines to help climate scientists increase the accessibility of graphics to non-experts, and illustrate how the guidelines can work in practice in the context of Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change graphics.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1080-1089
Number of pages10
JournalNature Climate Change
Early online date24 Nov 2016
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2016


  • Climate change
  • communication
  • Psychology

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