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Many actors—including scientists, journalists, artists, and campaigning organizations—create visualizations of climate change. In doing so, they evoke climate change in particular ways, and make the issue meaningful in everyday discourse. While a diversity of climate change imagery exists, particular types of climate imagery appear to have gained dominance, promoting particular ways of knowing about climate change (and marginalizing others). This imagery, and public engagement with this imagery, helps to shape the cultural politics of climate change in important ways. This article critically reviews the nascent research area of the visual representations of climate change, and public engagement with visual imagery. It synthesizes a diverse body of research to explore visual representations and engagement across the news media, NGO communications, advertising, and marketing, climate science, art, and virtual reality systems. The discussion brings together three themes which occur throughout the review: time, truth, and power. The article concludes by suggesting fruitful directions for future research in the visual communication of climate change. WIREs Clim Change 2014, 5:73–87. doi: 10.1002/wcc.249

Conflict of interest: The authors have declared no conflicts of interest for this article.

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