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(c) Doris Friedrich Kerstin Heymach aims for a radical different view on climate science from an artistic perspective. As an expedition illustrator to the climate science expedition (AC)3, she documented the research processes and researchers with illustrations, drawings and interviews.

In June 2017, the graphic designer and artist Kerstin Heymach accompanied climate scientists on parts of the expedition (AC)3, which came to Svalbard on board the Polarstern. In her new book “Climate Recording“, which was recently published, she gives detailed insights into the scientists’ work, their approaches and motivations.

The (AC)3 project examines the “Arctic Amplification”, the intensification of climate change in the Arctic. “This observational campaign was one of the biggest, combined German expeditions in the Arctic,” the book points out.

Specifically, the scientists investigated the importance of clouds in the rapid decline of Arctic sea ice. “The clouds cause a positive feedback mechanism. It becomes warmer, there is more moisture,” explains Andreas Macke, director of the Leibniz Institute for Tropospheric Research.

Portraying the scientists behind the science

Whereas Heymach’s original plan merely included drawings and paintings during the expedition, she felt that there was something missing from the story: the individuals and the work behind the expedition. Not satisfied with the story that her landscape paintings tell, she started interviewing the scientists, making portraits and illustrations of typical work process, so that the reader gets a better grasp of “how it really is here.”

Few artists working on the Arctic actually focus on the scientists and the science behind climate-related discoveries. “It is very tough work that they do,” says Heymach, “but at the same time, they need to be creative.”

Interviews help understanding work processes

Through the interviews, she also captured the view from the ground on how it is to do research in the Arctic, where climate change and weather, geopolitical tensions, infrastructural challenges and very close interpersonal relations quickly can have a significant impact on the research.

Heymach tells: “The authentic interviews are included in full in the bilingual book, because I found it fascinating how scientists perceive and talk about their work.” As an outsider to the scientific work done there, it was also a good way for Heymach to understand the work processes.