They say a picture is worth a thousand words. I think this compelling graphic from Ed Hawkins showing the advance of the earth’s temperature towards the tipping point is worth far more.
The steady rise of Earth’s temperature as greenhouse gases accumulate in the atmosphere and trap more and more heat is sending the planet spiraling closer to the point where warming’s catastrophic consequences may be all but assured.
That metaphoric spiral has become a literal one in a new graphic drawn up by Ed Hawkins, a climate scientist at the University of Reading in the United Kingdom. The animated graphic features a rainbow-colored record of global temperatures spinning outward from the late 19th century to the present as the Earth heats up.
“I think there is lots to see—variations from month to month and decade to decade,” Hawkins told Gizmodo. “I wanted to try and visualize the changes we have seen in different ways to learn about how we might improve our communication. The spiral appeared to present the information in an appealing and straightforward way. The pace of change is immediately obvious, especially over the past few decades. The relationship between current global temperatures and the internationally discussed target limits are also clear without much complex interpretation needed.”
Just how much temperatures have risen is clear in the first few months of data from 2016, it’s line clearly separated from 2015 — which was the hottest year on record — and edging in on the 1.5°C mark.
Every month of 2016 so far has been the warmest such month on record; in fact, the past 11 months have all set records, the longest such streak in the temperature data kept by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. (Each agency that keeps such a temperature record handles the data slightly differently, which can lead to small differences in monthly and yearly values, though the overall trend is in broad agreement for all such agencies.)
For the full accompanying article, visit Climate Central