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  • Art & Science Research Group

MAPS and LINES—By Nina Eriksson

Updated: Dec 6, 2020


In order to record weather with any type of accuracy or ability to analyse the data confidently, you have to have multiple weather stations measuring the elements in question within certain small stretches of time. When you do, the alteration in the data becomes an advanced draw-by-numbers exercise; you can record and analyse movement. I was advised by Thomas Spengler, the meteorologist and researcher I am working with, to look at the weather data collected by Norwegian Meteorological Service (https://seklima.met.no/observations/).


The map layout I navigated is in black and white, marked across Norway with weather recording stations. These stations are marked with bright green arrows with rounded edges, almost cartoony in their expression.. They stand out atop the map, whose shade of gray and detailed topographical lines leads associations to 17th century maps heavy on description but lower on accuracy than what we can achieve now. Discovery alters reality - it alters what we know as real, diversifies or ties down experiences and notions that we perceive.

Screenshots from Norsk Klimaservicesenter

The poetics of scientific language and visualisation are indirectly addressed by the illustrations in the paper “On the Structure of Moving Cyclones” by J. Bjerknes, dated in 1918. He argued for the implementation of an increased number of measuring stations in order to understand and predict the movement of cyclones, and the visualisation of the movement he has recorded for this argument underline a different element of visualisation. The graphic drawings that let static lines suggest movement link directly to our reality, underlining (so to speak) the vitality of the information displayed. The still drawings of movement are made possible only by the fact that the meteorologist making them is aware of the movement in the first place.


Screenshots from PDF of “On the Structure of Moving Cyclones”

To me, these maps and illustrations are both poetically and scientifically interesting. They lead me on the track of history and the air of “ongoing-ness” that surrounds meteorology but also the field of climate and climate change research as a whole. Perhaps in these maps, and their meeting with the visualisations in the 1918 paper, I have found another way to try to visually bridge the gap between the historical and the fleeting now and find the points where they intersect.

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