Fires in the west and climate change

This is some advanced mapping and scrollytelling from the Washington Post. The piece examines climate change in the context of the fires in the western United States.

Starting in the beginning of August, the piece takes you through the timeline of events as your scroll. Maps of temperature, wind, lightning, and fire serve as the backdrop. Berry Creek, California, a mountain town that burned to the ground, provides an anchor to show how large climate shifts can affect the individual.

Well done.

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More fire weather days coming

It’s been smoky this season. Based on research from Michael Goss et al., Al Shaw and Elizabeth Weil for ProPublica look at the current fire situation in California and what that might mean for the future and the rest of the country.

In wildfires, as with flooding and heat, climate change doesn’t create novel problems; it exacerbates existing problems and compounds risks. So there is no precise way to measure how much of all this increased wildfire activity is due to climate change. An educated guess is about half, experts say. Its role, however, is growing fast. Within 20 years, climate change promises to be the dominant factor driving larger and more frequent megafires — not only in California, but across the country.

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Map of climate threats where you live

For NYT Opinion, Stuart A. Thompson and Yaryna Serkez mapped the most predominant “climate threat” in each county:

This picture of climate threats uses data from Four Twenty Seven, a company that assesses climate risk for financial markets. The index measures future risks based on climate models and historical data. We selected the highest risk for each county to build our map and combined it with separate data from Four Twenty Seven on wildfire risks.

Got me thinking about Tim Meko’s maps of natural disasters.

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Who is responsible for climate change?

Kurzgesagt, in collaboration with Our World in Data, tackle the question of who is responsible for climate change and who should fix it. As you might imagine, the answer is not always straightforward.

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Deer crossing across highway corridors

With the climate changing, animals will need to migrate to different areas to live, but that can be a challenge when there is a giant highway blocking the way. The Washington Post looks at how scientists in Wyoming are hoping to clear the path:

“We can’t predict exactly what the impacts of climate change are going to be, or what species are going to be impacted,” said Hall Sawyer, a research biologist at Western Ecosystems Technology. “We do know one fundamental truth: That if we can keep this landscape connected, improve that permeability, they’ll be better off.”

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Sprawling flood waters across the Midwest and South

The New York Times mapped the slow, wide-reaching flood waters this year so far:

To measure the scope of the spring floods, The New York Times analyzed satellite data from the Joint Polar Satellite System using software, developed by government and academic researchers for flood detection, that is frequently used in disaster response.

The data covers the period from Jan. 15 to June 30 and shows an interconnected catastrophe along the Missouri, Mississippi and Arkansas Rivers, a system that drains more than 40 percent of the landmass of the continental United States.

Be sure to look at the piece on NYT. It tours you through the significant flooding areas as you scroll, which provides a step-by-step along with a sense of scale.

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Increasing ocean temperatures, decreasing ice

For National Geographic, Kennedy Elliot made a series of heatmaps that show the relative shifts in the ocean:

The oceans don’t just soak up excess heat from the atmosphere; they also absorb excess carbon dioxide, which is changing the chemistry of seawater, making it more acidic. “Ocean acidification is one simple and inescapable consequence of rising atmospheric CO2 that is both predictable and impossible to attribute to any other cause,” says oceanographer John Dore of Montana State University.


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Light installation shows future water lines against existing structures

Timo Aho and Pekka Niittyvirta used sensors, LED lights, and timers to display future water lines:

By use of sensors, the installation interacts with the rising tidal changes; activating on high tide. The work provides a visual reference of future sea level rise.

The installation explores the catastrophic impact of our relationship with nature and its long term effects. The work provokes a dialogue on how the rising sea levels will affect coastal areas, its inhabitants and land usage in the future.

Love that a single line of light can represent so much.

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How fast emissions would reduce if other plans were adopted

The United States is doing pretty poorly in reducing emissions. For The New York Times, Brad Plumer and Blacki Migloiozzi, show the current status and what could happen if the U.S. adopted more drastic plans already in place around the world.

The moving particles underneath the trend line is a nice touch to bring the abstract closer to what the data represents. Contrast this piece with Plumer’s piece from a couple of years ago to see the shift in focus.

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3-D tube chart of global CO2 concentration and temperature

Because you can never have enough time series charts that show increases of CO2 and temperature over decades. By Kevin Pluck:

Differing from the variations we’ve seen before, time is on the circle, and the metrics are on the vertical. Then it rotates for dramatic effect.

See also the the two-dimensional Cartesian version from Bloomberg and the polar coordinate version by Ed Hawkins. There are also plenty more temperature charts. I think after this, we’re set for a while.

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