A capstone project by a School of Communication alumna tackles sea-level rise through multimedia storytelling.
A self-professed visual storyteller, Yiran Zhu, M.A.'15, knows the power of multimedia, interactive graphics and visualization in demanding the audience's attention.
The journalism alumna currently works as a multimedia graphic designer for South Florida's Sun Sentinel newspaper. With the Sentinel, she depicts stories on issues ranging from immigration to the NFL's National Signing Day, but she lights up when describing her capstone project “City Up High” on sea-level rise in Miami Beach.
"I had been seeing a lot of reporting on climate change in the last few years but they never seemed to really focus on solutions for sea-level rise," she says.
The capstone project site uses graphics, video and animation to make visual a very real problem for South Floridians. Zhu collaborated with School of Communication faculty members Rich Beckman, Alberto Cairo, and Erin Brown, locally-based Fusion network graphic designers, and local city officials to help inform her designs. With her team at the Sentinel, she hopes to grow the focus on visualizing climate change, particularly sea-level rise in South Florida.
- Jessica M. Castillo / UM News
About the Video
A visual storyteller, UM alumna Yiran Zhu wanted to create a project that showed the impact of sea level rise. Courtesy of Yiran Zhu.
Salt Water Intrusion
The rising sea in South Florida exacerbates the extent of saltwater intrusion. Salt water spreads from both the south and east coast lines under the mainland of South Florida where its limestone plateau allows its intrusion into the Biscayne Aquifer because of its porous, vulnerable structure. Excessive pumping of fresh water from the aquifer and unprotected canals allow the saltwater to seep into the fresh water supply, which then requires desalination by water providers.
Rising Sea Levels
Southeast Florida is considered one of the most vulnerable areas to climate change and sea level rise. Since 1870, average global sea level has risen by about 8 inches, while the Southeast Florida has risen 12 inches.1 In the City of Miami Beach, sea level rise has made prolonged flooding a frequent event after strong storms.