Climate normals mapped over time

Every decade the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration releases climate normals to provide a baseline to compare current weather against. NOAA just released the estimates for 1991 to 2020. As you might expect, and shown in the maps above, it’s getting hotter.

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Cooling Gulf Stream

This is quite a dive by Moises Velasquez-Manoff and Jeremy White for The New York Times. They look at the potential danger of melting ice from Greenland flowing into the Gulf Stream.

An animated map of currents and temperature, reminiscent of NASA’s Perpetual Ocean from 2011, shows what’s going on underwater. The piece flies you through as you scroll with a familiar view as if you’re in space looking down.

Keep reading though, and you’re taken underwater 800 feet below the surface. It’s like seeing the currents from a fish’s point of view.

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Low temperatures map of the United States

Based on data from the Global Forecast System, The New York Times mapped the lowest temperatures across the country between February 14 and 16.

The blue-orange color scale diverges at freezing, which creates a striking image of a very cold country. The dotted lines and temperature labels make the patterns especially obvious.

As someone who lives in an orange area, I was shocked by all of the blue. Stay safe.

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Interactive data essays on climate change

In their second issue, Parametric Press focuses on climate change with a set of interactive data essays:

The articles explore the gamut of our climate’s past, present, and future, exploring not only what has happened (and is happening) but also what should happen, and what we as citizens should do to realize that future. In this issue you will find a personalized history of Earth’s CO2 record, a close look at disturbances in the floodplains in the Mekong Delta, an analysis of how YouTube and other digital streaming services impact the environment, along with critiques on potential carbon sequestration methods and an exploration of the corporations that are most responsible for getting us to where we are today.

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Racist housing policy from 1930s and present-day temperature highs

Brad Plumer and Nadja Popovich for The New York Times show how policies that marked black neighborhoods as “hazardous” for real estate investment led to a present-day with fewer trees and higher temperatures. The maps that shift back and forth between past districting and how things are now show the picture clearly.

This goes hand-in-hand with how tree-cover and neighborhood incomes are also tightly coupled.

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Global warming color stripes, as decorative conversation starter

Ed Hawkins, who you might recognize from charts such as spiraling global temperature and the aforementioned temperature grid, encourages you to show your stripes. Select your region, and see how average temperature increased. I saw this last year, but I just realized that people are using this chart to print, knit, and decorate.

Emmalie Dropkin made a blanket:

Pueblo Vida Brewing and the University of Arizona Climate Systems Center used a variation of the stripes to decorate beer cans:

Gwyneth Matthews made earrings:

Hawkins also has a Zazzle store of his own, and of course there’s a face mask now:

Amazing what a few stripes can do. Check out the temperatures for your own region.

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Climate change displayed, with shower tiles

Based on a chart by Ed Hawkins, the shower wall of Gretchen Goldman and Tom Di Liberto transformed into a canvas to show global warming.

Each row represents a country, and each cell — I mean tile — represents the temperature difference compared to the overall average for the time period.

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Visual guide for the fires in Australia

For The Guardian, Niko Kommenda and Josh Holder provide a visual guide to the bushfires in Australia:

Satellite data from Nasa showed a stark increase in the number of fire detections in November and December compared with previous years. Satellites detect fire “hotspots” by measuring the infrared radiation emitted by the blazes.

In previous years, between 2,000 and 3,000 such hotspots were recorded each December in the south-east, while in 2019 the number reached 227,000.

There’s an animated time series chart that changes the range of the y-axis, which I think is a good way to demonstrate the scale of the current fires.

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Arctic ice melting

One way to gauge the amount of ice in the Arctic is to look at the average age of the ice. From the NASA Scientific Visualization Studio, the map above shows the estimated age of ice on a monthly basis, going back to 1984:

One significant change in the Arctic region in recent years has been the rapid decline in perennial sea ice. Perennial sea ice, also known as multi-year ice, is the portion of the sea ice that survives the summer melt season. Perennial ice may have a life-span of nine years or more and represents the thickest component of the sea ice; perennial ice can grow up to four meters thick. By contrast, first year ice that grows during a single winter is generally at most two meters thick.

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Using old ship logs as a window into the weather in the 1800s

For Reuters, Feilding Cage describes a weather time machine project by NOAA that uses old shipping logs to build climate models for the 19th century:

In the 19th and early 20th centuries, millions of weather observations were carefully made in the logbooks of ships sailing through largely uncharted waters. Written in pen and ink, the logs recorded barometric pressure, air temperature, ice conditions and other variables. Today, volunteers from a project called Old Weather are transcribing these observations, which are fed into a huge dataset at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. This “weather time machine,” as NOAA puts it, can estimate what the weather was for every day back to 1836, improving our understanding of extreme weather events and the impacts of climate change.

Consider my mind blown.

I wonder what researchers will extract from our current data streams a century from now.

Nevermind. I don’t want to know.

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