Our favorite data stories: how Guardian US visualized 2022 – The Guardian US

From neighborhood heatmaps to banana diagrams, the visuals we used to tell this year’s stories
In 2022, the Guardian US visuals team used data to tell stories ranging from the effects of our warming planet to voter disenfranchisement and abortion deserts. When our reporting led us to a point too complex for words we crafted data graphics to simplify and inform. Below are nine stories that represent our best work of the year.
The world’s farms lack biodiversity – they produce only a handful of varieties of bananas, avocados, coffee and other foods. This monoculture leaves crops vulnerable to floods, droughts and disease. Starting with bananas, we visualized how the increasing lack of diversity among the foods we eat can lead to crop loss and malnutrition.
Data visualization: Alvin Chang
A groundbreaking study by citizen scientists surveyed the temperature of New York City streets, using data to define the boundaries of climate inequality. Neighborhoods in the Bronx with little tree cover were on average 8F (4.5C) hotter than the wealthier and more canopied Upper West Side. We created a heatmap to highlight the areas most affected by dangerous heat.
Data visualization: Aliya Uteuova
Every 10 years congressional redistricting brings a focus on gerrymandering, the process of manipulating political boundaries to benefit a party. Using demographic and voting data we created a series of stories to help readers understand how this intentionally confusing process disenfranchises voters. This story visualizes how Democratic-leaning Nashville, Tennessee, was dismantled into three Republican-favored districts.
Data visualization: Andrew Witherspoon
The US experienced a historic heatwave this summer. An alarming trend shows average temperatures have increased by at least 2F since 1970. Using a spike map of major American cities we focused on the almost-universal warming trend, with the highest spikes in the west and south-west.
Data visualization: Aliya Uteuova
Last-mile warehouses are springing up across the US, enabling the instant gratification of online deliveries. Working with Consumer Reports and local citizen scientists, we collected and visualized air quality and traffic sensor data to track the effect of these warehouses on the Red Hook neighborhood of New York City.
Data visualization: Andrew Witherspoon, Aliya Uteuova
When the US supreme court ended the federal right to abortion in June, access to abortion services became much more uneven for women across the nation. Some already had sparse access, but with entire states expected to ban abortion we wanted to visually contextualize how far women would have to travel. Using sensitive clinic location data we mapped the distance from each US county to the nearest available clinic and charted the average increase in distance for each state.
Data visualization: Andrew Witherspoon, Alvin Chang
As the global Covid-19 pandemic reached its second year, we wanted to step back and take a look at the larger picture. Two years of data allowed for more complete conclusions about the regional peaks and valleys of caseloads, the racial disparities in death rates, and plateaued vaccine adoption.
Data visualization: Andrew Witherspoon
The Guardian analyzed hundreds of internal documents that revealed the chemical giant Syngenta was aware their weedkiller Paraquat could lead to Parkinson’s disease. To show the pervasiveness of the weedkiller, we mapped the chemical’s agricultural use in the US over time.
Data visualization: Aliya Uteuova
As the world comes dangerously close to the 1.5C (2.7F) post-industrial warming threshold set in the Paris agreement, we wanted to explore the crisis at a more local level. We mapped temperatures of US counties in 48 states, finding at least 499 counties that have already reached 1.5C. To show the populations most affected we made a stacked bar chart sized by each state’s population and colored by temperature increase.
Data visualization: Andrew Witherspoon
For more data visuals, read some of the prolific work from our UK colleagues this year. They’ve covered the impact of the war in Ukraine on the world’s food supply, a timeline of Covid in the UK, and the money behind England’s water system. See all of the Guardian’s interactives here.


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