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Eerily beautiful light installation visualizes impact of sea-level rise

The LED rope lights are connected to sensors that activate when the tide changes

LED ropes wrapped around houses Photo: Pekka Niittyvirta

Climate change can be difficult to imagine if you’re fortunate enough to not be directly affected by it. The truth is, though, markers of our changing environments are all around—sometimes they’re just not obvious.

Light stretching across grasslands Photo: Pekka Niittyvirta

It’s hard to miss—or misinterpret—“Lines,” a new installation from Finnish artists Pekka Niittyvirta and Timo Aho that visualizes how rising sea levels will impact coastal towns. The duo strung ropes of glowing LEDs around seaside houses and across the landscape on the Scottish island of North Uist, positioned to show where the sea level could rise to if Earth keeps warming.

Illuminated rope wrapped around house Photo: Pekka Niittyvirta

The lights are connected to sensors that activate when the tide changes. When the sea level changes, the lights illuminate. It’s an evocative and clear depiction of what can sometimes be an abstract concept.

LIght strung across landscape Photo: Pekka Niittyvirta

”Art has the potential to convey scientific data, complex ideas and concepts, in a powerful way that words or graphs fall short of. Hopefully, through this work, people can better visualize and relate to [the] reality,” the artists told Dezeen.

“The work provokes a dialogue on how the rising sea-levels will affect coastal areas, its inhabitants and land usage in the future.”