Montology Zines - Pyroscapes Issue 1.0

scicomm portfolio
nature journal
fire ecology
data journalism
fire runner

RJ Cody Markelz


June 25, 2024

pyroscapes cover

Issue 1.0 - Adventure and Observational Gear

As wildfires become more common in the everyday lives of Californians, Cody seeks to increase awareness of how the natural fire cycle in California affects ecosystems, especially “pyrodiversity,” the fire variability across our landscapes. The Pyroscapes project focuses on the natural history of fire in California with an emphasis on the Cascade and Klamath Mountain ranges in Northern California. The unique geology, geography, climate, plant, and animal species in these mountain ranges all contribute to the area having large areas of high pyrodiversity stemming from its complicated fire history. While the rapid increase in environmental data could lead to more insights into how ecosystems work, there is also a disconnect from human-level observations that are crucial for our intuitive understanding of nature. This project aims to explore and reinforce the connection between large scale environmental datasets and human scale observation.

Leveraging his background as a biologist, data scientist, and backcountry explorer, Cody links together ground level observations of writing, photos, and illustrations to satellite imagery, remote sensing data, and geospatial models. In this series, he explores backcountry areas of high, medium, and low pyrodiversity under human power by trail running, hiking, bikepacking, and backpacking. Incorporating observational data into scientific expeditions has a long tradition. This project continues that tradition by merging modern data analysis tools with old school explorer journal entries for a fresh look at how fire influences California ecosystems.

In this issue Cody discusses his gear quiver along observational training principles for natural history exploration. The combination of these skills is essential for good backcountry exploration across California’s wild pyroscapes.

Montology Studios creates illustrated Zines and media around the theme of mountains and culture. Think of this Zine as a cross between National Geographic, punk rock, adventure, natural history and data science. Each zine has a specific sub-theme. Some previous themes have been trail running, fire ecology, adventure vans, and frugality.

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