In presentations of global warming, sometimes watching maps morph from blue (cold) to red (hot) grows tiresome. Talented data visualizers are finding new and creative ways to illustrate the warming of the planet.
The latest visualization of Earth heating up was built by Antti Lipponen, a research scientist at the Finnish Meteorological Institute, and it has caught fire. Just since Saturday, it has been shared 16,000 times on Twitter.
It reveals the majority of countries have warmed by at least one degree Celsius (1.8 degrees Fahrenheit), and all but one (Kiribati) have warmed by at least 0.5 degrees (0.9 degrees Fahrenheit) since the late 1800s.
Maddie Stone, managing editor at Earther, aptly described the visualization as a “climate switchboard“.
Lipponen’s creation shows temperature trends for 191 countries over a rectangular grid.
Each country is represented by a circle. The size of the circle indicates how much the temperature has changed relative to the average temperature between 1951 and 1980, using NASA data.
Colors are used to illustrate whether it’s warming or cooling. Warming temperatures follow a gradient from orange to red based on intensity, while circles that show cooling are filled in shades of blue.
The visualization is an animated time series that spans 1880 and 2017.
When you set the animation in motion, the switchboard – to borrow Stone’s description – is initially filled with an array of blue lights, indicating cool temperatures, but they gradually fade away by the 1970s as Earth warms.