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Climate Chats #2: Cornelia Scholz


Climate Chats #2: Cornelia Scholz

Picture of Fleur Leijte
Fleur Leijte — Project manager
September 21, 2023

For our second climate chat, we spoke to Cornelia Scholz, who will be hosting a session on visualising climate data.

In the run-up to our News Impact Summit on Elevating Climate Journalism this autumn, we have been talking to some of the speakers joining us in Lisbon.

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Cornelia works for the Red Cross and Red Crescent Climate Centre. Being passionate about maps and data, she specialises in Geographic Information Systems (GIS), which are computer systems that analyse and display geographic information.

Originally from Austria, Cornelia works on projects all over the globe with the Climate Centre, often providing support remotely through geospatial and mapping analysis or if the context allows, joining teams in the country to assess 'high-risk areas'. These are fragile areas where people often affected by conflict and violence are particularly vulnerable to extreme weather events such as drought, flooding, extreme heat or wildfires, leaving populations at risk. The climate centre is a technical reference centre with a mission to support the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement and its partners in reducing the impacts of climate change and extreme weather events on vulnerable people.

Finding a way through the climate data jungle

As a geospatial and data science expert, Cornelia knows that climate data is often complex, especially for people who do not have a background in data science, including many journalists who have to translate climate data and make it accessible to a broad audience. Nevertheless, it is crucial that journalists not only understand climate data but are also able to communicate it in an understandable and accessible way. This is why Cornelia is currently exploring open-source tools for climate data visualisation together with Wim Zwijnenburg, Project Leader at the peace organisation Pax and contributor to the investigative journalism platform Bellingcat. Wim focuses on conflict and environmental-related issues in the Middle East, the use and proliferation of emerging military technologies, and arms trade.

Bridging the gap

The climate data landscape is huge. Although Cornelia thinks it is a good thing that there is so much public information available on climate change, she also realises that it can be daunting for journalists who need to put all the information into context for their stories.

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‘’I definitely see a gap between highly scientific data and journalism. I am interested in bridging that gap by helping journalists translate the data to straight-forward, non-technical visualisations that can truly empower their stories.’’

-Cornelia Scholz

The piece that she is working on with Wim looks into openly available tools and data that explore climate data and turn it into compelling visualisations. A part of it focuses especially on journalism, and a scientific background is not needed to understand it. It is a practical exploration of data. It also includes some case examples of interactive story maps created by the Climate Centre’s team of researchers and experts with various expertise and skill sets on climate data, social science, art, and geo-information.

At the News Impact Summit, she is excited to share parts of the recent findings on open-source tools with the audience. Participants can expect a hands-on session. Cornelia is also looking forward to attending the other sessions, including the panel on solutions-oriented climate reporting.

Are you excited to join Cornelia’s session during our News Impact Summit in Lisbon? Save your spot here!


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