Bringing Visibility to Sea Level Change in Alaska
Relative sea level change is highly variable in Alaska due to extremes in vertical land motion. In southeast Alaska rapid uplift is occurring because of isostatic rebound from glacial ice loss resulting in falling relative sea levels, and in western Alaska sedimentation in deltaic areas contributes to land subsidence and accelerated relative sea level rise.
An updated Sea Level Rise Technical Report for the United States was released in February 2022. These projections reflect the latest science, but data challenges in Alaska make this new information less accessible to the public and map visualization products are not always the most effective way to convey the implications of these updated trends to the widest possible audience.
Art is a wonderful tool that can speak to wide audiences about complex issues such as sea level change. Drawing and painting are especially effective methods of alternate communication in Alaska because they easily adapt to working from life or within a studio. Ms. Lochridge will work in many locations to accurately capture scientists collecting data, villages impacted by sea level change, and citizens who have worked with climate action plans. This imagery will act as context clues for graphs, tables, and maps from the Sea Level Rise Technical Report for the United States. Trends in sea level change will be hidden in plain sight as backgrounds, contour lines, and structures within the artwork. The combination of the two sources of information will help viewers find out about sea level change information sources, how to read the data, and the implications of what the data is saying.
Communicating the causes and implications of sea level rise is important, but Ms. Lochridge wants to ensure that she cultivates hope for a future that is worth working for. During her personal experiences as an artist and as a scientist, she has found that people are more willing to participate in addressing an issue when they believe that current actions will be successful. Therefore, in addition to highlighting the aforementioned subjects, this project will draw attention to how groups such as NOAA and local communities are working to understand and minimize the impact of sea level change in Alaska.
Ms. Lochridge will use a mix of plein air and studio practices to create drawings and paintings that combine imagery in ways that create connections between viewers and the world around them. Different subtopics will benefit from different mediums, so she therefore plans to use acrylic paint, watercolor paint, charcoal, and ink. The portability and adaptability of these mediums will allow her to create her art in residence at the NOAA Kasitsna Bay Laboratory.
About the Artist:
Kate Lochridge is a 2022-23 NOAA Hollings Scholar and third-year BFA studio art and marine biology major at Bowling Green State University. Her goal is to use art to improve scientific communication so it can be understood by a diverse audience and applied on a large scale. Throughout her education, Kate has utilized drawing, painting, sculpture, and biological material to facilitate understanding of scientific phenomena. Over the past year, she has produced artwork that tackles extinction, water scarcity, drinking resources, and even created paint pigment from algae biomass to bring awareness to the causes, effects, and solutions of harmful algal blooms. Her long term goals include working in marine conservation and creating scientific illustrations for papers and public education