Climate scientist Ed Hawkins has posted on his blog this interesting visualisation showing the change in global temperature since modern measurements began – and it has caused a stir online.
Hawkins, climate scientist at the University of Reading, describes the animated spiral on his Climate Lab Book site as presenting “global temperature change in a visually appealing and straightforward way”. The animation shows how global temperatures have risen since 1850 and puts them in the context of the global target limit of a 2oC rise in global temperatures above those of the pre-industrial era.
The data on global monthly average temperatures from January 1850 to March 2016 is taken from the UK Meteorological Office’s HadCRUT4.4 temperature analysis. It is displayed as a variance, or anomaly, relative to the mean global temperature between 1850 and 1900.
“The pace of change is immediately obvious, especially over the past few decades. The relationship between current global temperatures and the internationally discussed target limits are also clear without much complex interpretation needed,” writes Hawkins.
It has caused a bit of a stir online with USA Today headlining a story “Animation shows how global warming is spiraling out of control”, Mashable reporting “a new way of visualizing the progression of human-caused global warming” and Gizmodo calling it “one of the most convincing climate change visualizations we’ve ever seen” – although, of course, the graphic itself illustrates the temperature data says nothing about causation…