Global warming: Can these striking charts convince nay-sayers?
We live in increasingly polarized times. Times where your point of view defines more than your stance on a particular topic – it defines who you are. Perhaps that's why people are so unlikely to change their minds on any given issue, even when there's overwhelming scientific evidence to the contrary. Take immunization, flat-Earthism and, yes, global warming.
Cue climate scientist Ed Hawkins who's come up with a new and striking way to visualize climate data: a series of vertical stripes that convey rising temperatures year on year. "All other superfluous information is removed, so that the changes in temperature are seen simply and undeniably," Hawkins writes at the Climate Lab Book.
What these charts don't try to show is how hot it was for any particular place in any particular year. Instead, the extremes of color correspond to the extremes in temperature evident for the location. So the darkest blue of a chart for one location probably won't correspond to the same temperature for another. And the same is true for any other hue.
For example: in this chart of annual temperatures for Toronto between 1841-2017, the darkest blue represents a mean annual temperature of 5.5° C (41.9° F), and the darkest red represents 11° C (51.8° F):
Whereas in this chart for Vienna, the darkest blue represents 7.5° C (45.5° F) and the darkest red 12° C (53.6° F):
What the charts do a very good job of showing is a clear trend for warmer temperatures at many locations, with recent years typically showing various shades of red, denoting warmer years than average for the data available. None more so than the chart for annual mean temperatures for the whole Earth, which, as you might expect, show less variation than some charts for more localized regions:
In each case, the charts date back to the earliest data for their location. In many cases, charts are only available at the national level.
The data is drawn from Berkeley Earth, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the UK Met Office, MeteoSwiss and the German meteorological service DWD. Ed Hawkins is a climate scientist at the National Centre for Atmospheric Science, University of Reading.
You can find charts for your locations of interest at showyourstripes.info. Charts for new locations continue to be added to the site.