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At the intersection of population growth and extreme heat, AP interactive brings global climate data to life

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Data journalist Nicky Forster and science writer Drew Costley worked for months producing an immersive interactive that takes readers on a tour of the globe,visualizing how and where exposure to extreme heat is escalating and its impact on population centers.

The project got underway after Forster secured early access to historical data from Columbia University,the European Union and the University of California,Santa Barbara,tracking both population growth and a metric — wet-bulb globe temperature — that gauges the impact of extreme heat on human health by taking into account factors such as wind speed and cloud cover.

The AP analysis found that between 1983 and 2016,exposure to dangerous heat tripled and now affects about a quarter of the world’s population. The most affected region,by far,was southern Asia, where India alone accounted for 37% of the population living in areas with an increasing extreme heat trend.

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Forster and Andrew Milligan of AP’s Data Team spent weeks writing the code to visualize the data in an engaging 3D display,while Costley reached out to experts,reporting on the health impact of rising temperatures. Immersive storytelling producer Peter Hamlin provided illustrations that brought the presentation to life,and reporter Victoria Milko fed helpful perspective from Indonesia, which plans to relocate its capital from Jakarta to address heat concerns.

Visitors to the interactive at apnews.com were taken to literal hot spots around the world. In Samarinda,Indonesia,the story noted people could expect 19 more days of extreme heat in 2016 compared with 1983. Mokpo,South Korea,farther from the equator,didn’t have an extreme heat event until 2013,when it had three. Cities like Mokpo that are just now experiencing dangerous heat more regularly are at risk of being caught unprepared, the story noted.

The interactive marked the latest example of AP’s new storytelling formats,and stood out from the deluge of climate coverage during the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Glasgow,Scotland. Readers spent an average of nearly four minutes on the page — remarkably high engagement — and The Poynter Institute noted the piece in its daily media newsletter.

For their resourcefulness,creativity and dedication in helping AP’s audience understand the far-ranging impact of global warming in a new way,the team of Forster, Costley and Hamlin is this week’s Best of the Week — First Winner.

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