multimedia storytelling with data and imagery

Short-term Sea Ice Forecasts for Subsistence Users in Alaska

Weekly maps of ice movements were published as a resource for Alaska Native subsistence hunters and coastal communities.

Partners: Axiom Data Science, Alaska Ocean Observing System, Arctic Research Consortium of the United States

The Sea Ice for Walrus Outlook (SIWO) is a seasonal resource hub for Alaska Native subsistence hunters, coastal communities, and others interested in sea ice and walrus. Each Spring, SIWO posts weekly reports on the sea ice and other marine weather conditions that mariners used to plan and to stay safe.

At Axiom Data Science (facilitated by the Alaska Ocean Observing System), I worked with ARCUS managers to produce weekly animations of the sea ice that would go out in the report. The animations had to meet the following objectives: (1) be simple to read, (2) show the relative position and velocity of the sea ice through time, (3) run off of an automated data ingestion, and (4) have outputs <3 Mb in size so they could easily be shared on social media and downloaded while at sea on weak satellite connections.

We ingested an ocean forecast from the Hybrid Coordinate Ocean Model (HYCOM) and created and built frames in Python. The frames were then stitched together into GIFS to send out in the SIWO Facebook group. We created two scales — one regional view of the Chukchi and Bering Seas and one of the Bering Strait — and sent them to the group to see which one they preferred. They liked both!