Visualizing the Climate Crisis: Representing Ocean Acidification

Virtual event


March 21, 2023
10:00–11:15AM EDT

Photograph by Katherine Jack.

In the visualization of the climate crisis, how can ocean acidification be represented?

Ocean acidification is a change to the ocean’s chemistry produced by rising levels of carbon dioxide (CO2). The ocean absorbs about 30 percent of the CO2 that human activity releases into the atmosphere, and as levels of atmospheric CO2 increase, so do the levels in the ocean.

When CO2 is absorbed by seawater, a series of chemical reactions occur that damage structures such as sea shells and coral skeletons. This harms calcifying organisms such as oysters, clams, sea urchins, shallow-water corals, deep-sea corals, and calcareous plankton. When these organisms are at risk, the entire food web may also be at risk.

How can this phenomenon be visualized? How can visual storytellers work with scientists and develop a narrative that shows the problem and points the way toward solutions? What messages can have a tangible impact on a local and global level? How can we communicate the connection between issues in the Atlantic Ocean, the corals in the Philippines? and life and habits in Europe?

To address these issues, Katherine Jack (photographer) and Octavio Aburto (research scientist) will be in conversation with Maria Teresa Salvati (founder and director of Everything is Connected). The talk will be moderated by Paul Lowe (Reader in Documentary Photography at UAL, London).

This event is the first in a new series, Visualizing the Climate Crisis, which explores the potential and the role that contemporary photography, together with different disciplines, can have in addressing the multi-layered theme of climate change.

The series will feature visual journalists doing evidence-based, research-informed, image-led reporting on climate issues. They will be in conversation with other professionals representing a diverse range of disciplines, such as science, policy-making, education, architecture, social innovation, media, and more.

The starting point for each event is a specific topic for which two professionals will explore the possibility of thinking beyond photography in a genuinely trans-disciplinary approach to expand reach, involve the wider public, and move people from being inspired to taking action.

This series is organized by Everything is Connected, UAL, University of the Arts London, and VII Insider.

Octavio Aburto

Octavio Aburto is a Full Professor and Research Scientist at Scripps Institution of Oceanography (SIO), a National Geographic Explorer, and a professional photographer associate with the International League of Conservation Photographers (iLCP). His research has focused on marine reserves, ecosystem services, long-term monitoring programs, and commercially exploited marine species and their fisheries in Mexico, Belize, Costa Rica, Ecuador, and the U.S.

Katherine Jack

Katherine Jack is a British photographer living and working on the islands of Palawan, Philippines. Her images explore interconnections between human and ocean life and communicate the need to protect the marine world. Her work has been published by Corriere Della Serra, Geographical, LIFO, The New York Times, and The Telegraph.

Maria Teresa Salvati

Maria Teresa Salvati is the founder and director of Everything is Connected, a trans-disciplinary platform that aims at connecting different areas of research and experiments with new ways to involve and engage the public at large, learning through the results of experimentation and providing the community with new paradigms for communicating the environmental crisis.

Paul Lowe

, London
Dr. Paul Lowe is a Reader in Documentary Photography and the Course Leader of the Masters program in Photojournalism and Documentary Photography at the London College of Communication, University of the Arts, London, UK. Paul is an award-winning photographer who has been published in TIME, Newsweek, Life, The Sunday Times Magazine, The Observer, and The Independent, amongst others. He has covered breaking news the world over, including the fall of the Berlin Wall, Nelson Mandela’s release, famine in Africa, the conflict in the former Yugoslavia, and the destruction of Grozny.
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