Innovation That Matters

The Climate Crisis Font can be adapted for use | Photo source Helsingin Sanomat

Finnish newspaper creates 'Climate Crisis' font that visualises melting Arctic ice

Publishing & Media

The typeface can be adjusted by a sliding timescale to reflect the gradual disappearance of ice caps since 1979

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Spotted: A newspaper in Finland, Helsingin Sanomat, has developed the Climate Crisis Font, the weight of which is able to be adjusted with an easy-to-use sliding timescale, to reflect the decline in Arctic sea ice between 1979 and 2050. By 2050, predictions show that the ice will have declined by 30 per cent. 

The typeface at 1979 is extra bold and features what Helsingin Sanomat’s art director Tuomas Jääskeläinen describes as “icy sharp edges”, but as users adjust the font to later years, the font becomes thinner and less defined, mimicking the ice melting into the ocean.

The thickness of the font at different times is based on actual historical data from the US National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC), the accuracy of which can be seen in the fact that in the year 2000 there was a minor growth, which is reflected in the font. Future projections up to 2050, if trends don’t change, are based on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

The typeface is able to be adjusted like this because it is “variable”, storing all possible variations of the style inside a single file; the “default” version is linked to the two other extremes, light and bold, creating an axis along which the type can be changed. This type of typeface is normally used by professional designers, but here the newspaper used it to demonstrate a point for all readers to see, in response to real-life data. “The transformation between the two extremes, known as interpolation, was mapped to respond to the Arctic ice pack’s shrinkage,” explains Jääskeläinen.

The posters displaying the font are stark and frightening, but the point of the sliding timescale according to Jääskeläinen, is to demonstrate how climate change can creep up on us slowly. Helsingin Sanomat is Nordic’s largest newspaper, and as the typeface is free to download, they hope it will be taken up by other journalists and influential people around the world, to visually demonstrate the effects of climate change. “We hope that using the font helps people see the urgency of climate change in a more tangible form”, says Jääskeläinen. “It is a call for action.”

Written By: Holly Hamilton

Explore more: Publishing & Media Innovations | Sustainability Innovations



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