The Natural History Museum has collaborated with data visualisation company Beyond Words Studio to illustrate some of the changes in the movement of people, air and noise pollution and wildlife sightings in the UK.
The graphics, drawing on a variety of open source data and scientific databases, document the dramatic drop in driving and public transport use, the resulting reduction in air pollution and noise levels and the changes to sightings of both animals and birds.
The release of these graphics is part of ‘Nature in Lockdown’ a Natural History Museum public engagement initiative which is seeking to crowdsource research ideas and discover the top three environmental impacts of COVID-19 which people are most interested in.
The project, which has received funding from the Natural Environment Research Council, culminates in a live interactive virtual ‘Lates’ event on Friday 25th September at 7.30pm in which audiences can pose questions to young and emerging researchers about those topics.
The Natural History Museum’s Executive Director of Engagement Clare Matterson says: “These fascinating visualisations, the result of a collaboration between scientists, our digital teams and Beyond Words, bring to life some of the astonishing impacts lockdown has had on our environments and how we noticed and experienced nature in a new and different way. ”
In the first 100 days of lockdown, there were nearly half a million wildlife sightings submitted to wildlife spotting website iRecord, an increase of 54% compared to the same period last year.
Bat sightings soared the most, with 2.4 times as many bats seen in lockdown as the same time last year.
The most popular lockdown animals were butterflies (129,000 sightings) and moths (90,000 sightings).