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Hi, my name is Brian Sekelsky. I’m a designer, developer, & researcher.


About | Resume


Witnessing Glaciers


Tools: ThreeJS, Javascript, HTML/CSS, ArcGIS, Processing, Figma, Miro, Ableton

During a workshop with Scott Reinhard (Graphics Editor at The New York Times), I explored data visualization related to climate change and glaciers.

The final prototype is a website which features a globe populated by all of the world’s glaciers, designated by white specks. A few key glaciers have been identified and marked with larger sphere which turn red as the user scrolls and reads their corresponding text.

All of the data comes from the World Glacier Monitoring Service. Using javascript and ThreeJS I was able to place all of the glaciers on this model of Earth.





Process

Starting with an investigation of current climate change issues, I came across several stories about melting ice caps. I was originally interested in the Alps in Italy. But later broadened my scope.



This eventually led me to glaciers, which have been changing size at alarming rates. I started out by sketching in Processing, using GPS coordinates and glacial masses from WGMS’s Fluctuations of Glaciers Databases. The simple sketch shows the world’s glaciers in their relative positions, their color fades from white to black in accordane with their mass. As years pass, the glaciers fade.


Next, I looked at the Benchmark Glaciers from a USGS dataset. The Benchmark Glaciers are four North American glaciers which have been chosen for longterm monitoring. Using the dataset I was able to make representations in Processing of 3D boxes based on the glaciers’ area and elevation over the years.
 

Next, Reinhard encouraged me to commit to design explorations that were non-graphic. He encouraged me to do one exploration off of the computer and one exploration with sound.

The first exploration was a timelapse of a large ice cube melting. One neat observation from this study was the realization that large ice cubes melt from their interiors.



Next I tried running some of the glacier data through a program that would convert it into MIDI. I put that MIDI file into Ableton Live and used it to play a synthesizer. The resulting sound had an ancient, almost mystical quality to it. This informed the design direction for my website. I wanted to capture that almost fantasy-like quality in my typography.

Next, I learned how to map the glacier data points onto a 3D globe using Three.js.


With more time, I would eventually like to turn the website into an interactive database style website. Visitors would be able to look through all of the world’s glaciers on the globe interface and explore data related to their health and sizes.