Historical context for the heat in the Pacific Northwest

It’s been hot in the Pacific Northwest the past few days. NYT’s The Upshot plotted the temperatures against previous max temperatures since 1979. Hot.

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Welcome to heat dome

It’s hot here in the western United States, and it’s only mid-June. From The Washington Post, we’re stuck in a heat dome:

Hot air masses expand vertically into the atmosphere, creating a dome of high pressure that diverts weather systems around them. One way to gauge the magnitude of a heat wave is to measure the height of the typical halfway point of the atmosphere — at the 500 millibar pressure level. For this pressure level to stretch to heights of 600 dekameters, or 19,685 feet, is quite rare, but that marker was forecast for this week, and it was indeed reached in Flagstaff, Ariz., on Tuesday.

Splendid.

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Drought in the Western United States

In what’s become a recurring theme almost every year, the western United States is experiencing drought, much of it exceptional or extreme. Nadja Popovich for The New York Times has the small multiple maps to show June conditions each year since 2000.

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Climate change and uncertainty

In his new data-driven documentary, Neil Halloran digs into the uncertainty attached to estimates for climate change. Halloran’s argument is that we have to understand the limitations of forecasting the future before we can change it.

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Melting glaciers

Niko Kommenda for The Guardian used small multiples to show 90 of the largest glaciers in the world and how they have melted over many decades. The animation transitions between two time periods for each glacier, showing what was there earlier and what is left.

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Climate change in 2020

It used to be that climate changed seemed like something far off in the future, like something that would only affect future generations. But it’s looking more urgent these days. For Reuters, Chris Canipe, Matthew Green and Sam Hart show the “fingerprints of climate change” we saw this year.

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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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