Climate change visualizations

Climate change visualizations: why?
Climate change is one of the biggest threat to society of the 21st century and strong action is required to reduce anthropogenic global warming. The Paris Agreement’s long-term goal is to keep the increase in global average temperature to well below +2.0°C above pre-industrial levels and to limit the increase to +1.5°C since this would substantially reduce the risks and effects of climate change.
Talking about climate change becomes crucial to contribute increasing awareness of this societal problem in the population, and thus – ultimately – to stimulate governments to act on climate. On this page, you find freely available climate change visualizations designed for the public and aiming at being used as a means for stimulating discussion on climate change. Feel free to use any of these visualizations for climate communication purposes (for example, on social networks, for talks, or while chatting with your neighbour). If you like, let me know how you use them, and whether you have any suggestions for improvements.

 

Temperature and CO2 warming stripes
Warming stripes are a very simple, nice, and efficient visualization of global/local warming invented by Ed Hawkins. Time (in years) runs from left to right in the panel. The temperature of each year is represented by colour, with blue/red representing colder/warmer temperatures.
The image below differs from the original warming stripes as it combines the visualization of mean global temperature and CO2 concentration. It shows a clear positive trend in the variables, with an acceleration of both the warming and the CO2 concentration in the last decades (right part of the panel).

Mean global temperature (bottom panel) and CO2 concentration (top panel) increasing from 1880 to 2017. Lower/higher values of temperature and CO2 are represented in blue/red. Data: CO2 from scrippsco2-ucsd; Temperature from GHCN and ERSST. Visualization developed in August 2018.

 

Circular Warming Stripes

Mean global temperature from 1900 to 2017. Each circle represents the temperature in a single year. Inner circles show the temperature in the past, and external circles show the temperature in recent years. Temperature data from HadCRUT4. Visualization developed in November 2018. Download high quality image: [(2×1) format] [(1×1) format].

 

Mean global temperature (upper half of the circle) and CO2 concentration (lower half) from 1900 to 2017. Each half circle represents the temperature/CO2 in a single year. Inner circles show the temperature and CO2 in the past, and external circles show the temperature and CO2 in recent years. Data: CO2 from scrippsco2-ucsd; Temperature from HadCRUT4. Visualization developed in November 2018. Download high quality image: [(2×1) format] [(1×1) format].

 

Running warming dots

Annual mean global temperature anomalies with respect to pre-industrial levels (that is, here, 1850-1900) from 1880 to 2017. Temperature is represented by coloured circles (blue/red representing colder/warmer temperatures) whose radius increase with temperature. See the background grey circles as reference for temperature values. (The image does actually look like the popular “climate spirals” realized by Ed Hawkins.) Temperature data from HadCRUT4. Visualization developed in November 2018.

 

Monthly mean global temperature anomalies with respect to pre-industrial levels (that is, here, annual mean during 1850-1900) from 1900 to 2017. Temperature is represented by circles whose radius increase with temperature. Also, temperature anomalies are ranked separately for each month: blue/red colours represent colder/warmer observation within a fixed month; the three top warmest observations within a month are highlighted via showing the temperature anomalies. See the background grey circles as reference for temperature values. Temperature data from HadCRUT4. Visualization developed in November 2018.

 

Global warming clock (or…coffee plot)
This “global warming clock” shows the rise of mean global temperature (point size) and CO2 concentration (colour): it highlights that time for taking action on climate change is running out. While the Paris Agreement’s target is to keep the mean global temperature below +1.5/+2.0°C above pre-industrial levels, this clock shows that we already reached +1.11°C in 2016.
Interestingly, the visualization was named by some people as “the coffee plot” as it looks like a coffee stain.

Mean global temperature anomalies with respect to the pre-industrial level (that is, here, 1850-1900) and CO2 concentration, from 1850 to 2017. Time runs as in a clock. The temperature of each year is represented as a point whose size increases with the temperature anomalies. CO2 concentration is represented by colours (blue/red representing lower/higher values of CO2). Data: CO2 from scrippsco2-ucsd; Temperature from HadCRUT4. Visualization developed in October 2018. Download high quality image: [(1×1) format] [(2×1) format].

 

Sea level rise

Global mean sea level rise from 1880 to 2013. Time runs as in a clock. The sea level rise level on each year is represented as a coloured point (darker blue for higher sea level values) whose size increases with sea level rise. Data from the updated version of the reconstruction of Church and White (2011). Visualization developed in November 2018.

 

All of the images on this page are realized using the software R.