Infographic: Hot Summer Down Under


During the last lecture, we saw an example from the Australia Bureau of Meteorology which shows the extreme temperature in Australia this summer. The visualization above, found on a Tumblr blog of a sustainable cities website (, is an extension of that idea. It shows information such as temperature, flood, rainfall, and heatwave records in various places in Australia, which altogether explains the “angry summer” that the country is experiencing.

The key information is fairly straightforward. The temperature/flood/rainfall records are quantitative measures that are comprised of the new record (all broken in 2012/2013) and the previous high record. However, I did find the use of icons slightly inconsistent. The flood and rainfall icons are both comparative–they’re each made of a smaller icon and a bigger icon to represent the previous and current record, respectively. The temperature icon, however, is illustrated as only one part (thermometer) with the previous and current record information displayed on the side. I’m not sure why the designer used a different icon logic for temperature, especially since the information displayed is of the same structure.

My biggest annoyance is with the heatwave records, which are spattered all across the map with no discernible logic in their placements and seemingly random typographic hierarchy in terms of size, color, and typeface. Instead of the current placements, these icons could be placed at the bottom together (as 1-dimensional stats) to give the main visualization a little more breathing room.

Overall, the visualization can benefit from some content restructuring. At the moment, the graphic looks crowded and every item is styled in a manner that demands the viewer’s attention (big and bold types, bright colors, icons, etc). While the information conveyed is quite straightforward, creating a little more hierarchy in the visualization–through higher contrast between items and generous use of white space, for instance–will greatly help its narrative flow and convey the idea better.

–Raymon Sutedjo-The, 3/4/2013


2 Replies to “Infographic: Hot Summer Down Under”

  1. Completely agree about the random placement of heatwave records and how crowded the graphic looks.

    What also would have been nice if they used the icons to provide redundant information and a way for users to better understand the increase. For the temperature could have at least used two thermometer icons to show the old and new records. For rainfall and flood they could use the size of the icon.

    For example they could have made the old rainfall and flood record a constant icon size and then increase the new record icon in proportion to the old record icon size. This will give some sense of the ratio difference (I choice ratio because I noticed the records are too varied to easily make both icons’ size based on their record 9.04m->9.53m and 23.11m->23.25m)

    What do you think?

    1. Definitely agree with using icon size to indicate the ratio difference. I initially thought that the author meant to do it with the visualization, so I was a little thrown off when I saw that all the icons were of the same size.

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