Warming stripes (sometimes referred to as climate stripes,[Note 1] climate timelines or stripe graphics) are data visualization graphics that use a series of coloured stripes chronologically ordered to visually portray long-term temperature trends.[Note 2] Warming stripes reflect a "minimalist" style, conceived to use colour alone to intuitively convey global warming trends to non-scientists while avoiding technical distractions.
The initial concept of visualizing historical temperature data has been extended to involve animation, to visualize sea level rise and predictive climate data, and to visually juxtapose temperature trends with other data such as atmospheric CO
2 concentration, global glacier retreat and precipitation.
Background, publication and content
In May 2016, to make visualizing climate change easier for the general public, University of Reading climate scientist Ed Hawkins created an animated spiral graphic of global temperature change as a function of time, a representation said to have gone viral. Jason Samenow wrote in The Washington Post that the spiral graph was "the most compelling global warming visualization ever made", before it was featured in the opening ceremony of the 2016 Summer Olympics. Then, on 22 May 2018, Hawkins published graphics constituting a chronologically ordered series of coloured vertical stripes that he called warming stripes. Hawkins, a lead author for the IPCC 6th Assessment Report, received the Royal Society's 2018 Kavli Medal, in part "for actively communicating climate science and its various implications with broad audiences".
As described in a BBC article, in the month the big meteorological agencies release their annual climate assessments, Hawkins experimented with different ways of rendering the global data and "chanced upon the coloured stripes idea". When he tried out a banner at the Hay Festival, according to the article, Hawkins "knew he'd struck a chord". The National Centre for Atmospheric Science (U.K.), with which Hawkins is affiliated, states that the stripes "paint a picture of our changing climate in a compelling way. Hawkins swapped out numerical data points for colours which we intuitively react to".
Warming stripe graphics are reminiscent of colour field painting, a style prominent in the mid 20th century, which strips out all distractions and uses only colour to convey meaning. Colour field pioneer artist Barnett Newman said he was "creating images whose reality is self-evident", an ethos that Hawkins is said to have applied to the problem of climate change.
On 17 June 2019, Hawkins published for public use, a large set of warming stripes on ShowYourStripes.info. Individualized warming stripe graphics were published for the globe, for most countries, as well as for certain smaller regions such as states in the US or parts of the UK, since different parts of the world are warming more quickly than others.
Data sources and data visualization
Warming stripe graphics are defined with various parameters, including:
- source of dataset (meteorological organization)
- measurement location (global, country, state, etc.)
- time period (year range, for horizontal "axis")
- temperature range (range of anomaly (deviation) about a reference or baseline temperature)
- colour scale (assignment of colours to represent respective ranges of temperature anomaly), and
- colour choice (shades of blue and red), as well as
- temperature boundaries (temperature above which a stripe is red and below which is blue, determined by an average annual temperature over a "reference period" or "baseline" of usually 30 years).
ShowYourStripes.info cites dataset sources Berkeley Earth, NOAA, UK Met Office, MeteoSwiss, DWD (Germany), specifically explaining that the data for most countries comes from the Berkeley Earth temperature dataset (updated to the end of 2018), except that for the US, UK, Switzerland & Germany the data comes from respective national meteorological agencies.
For each country-level #ShowYourStripes graphic (Hawkins, June 2019), the average temperature in the 1971-2000 reference period is set as the boundary between blue (cooler) and red (warmer) colours, the colour scale varying +/- 2.6 standard deviations of the annual average temperatures between 1901-2000. Hawkins noted that the graphic for the Arctic "broke the colour scale" since it is warming more than twice as fast as the global average.
For statistical and geographic reasons, it is expected that graphics for small areas will show more year-to-year variation than those for large regions. Year-to-year changes reflected in graphics for localities result from weather variability, whereas global warming over centuries reflects climate change.
The NOAA website warns that the graphics "shouldn't be used to compare the rate of change at one location to another", explaining that "the highest and lowest values on the colour scale may be different at different locations". Further, a certain colour in one graphic will not necessarily correspond to the same temperature in other graphics.
Applications and influence
After Hawkins' first publication of warming stripe graphics in May 2018, broadcast meteorologists in multiple countries began to show stripe-decorated neckties, necklaces, pins and coffee mugs on-air, reflecting a growing acceptance of climate science among meteorologists and a willingness to communicate it to audiences. In 2019, the United States House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis used warming stripes in its committee logo, showing horizontally oriented stripes behind a silhouette of the United States Capitol.
On 17 June 2019, Hawkins initiated a social media campaign with hashtag #ShowYourStripes that encourages people to download their regions' graphics from ShowYourStripes.info, and to post them. Warming stripes have been applied to neckties, cufflinks, vehicles, and a music festival stage. Hawkins surmised that making the graphics available for free has made them used more widely, saying that any merchandise-related profits are donated to charity.
Through a campaign led by nonprofit Climate Central using hashtag #MetsUnite, more than 100 TV meteorologists—the scientists most laymen interact with more than any other—featured warming stripes and used the graphics to focus audience attention during broadcasts on summer solstices beginning in 2018 with the "Stripes for the Solstice" effort.
By September 2019, the Met Office, the U.K.'s national weather service, was using both a climate spiral and a warming stripe graphic on its "What is climate change?" webpage. Concurrently, the cover of the 21-27 September 2019 issue of The Economist, dedicated to "The climate issue," showed a warming stripe graphic, as did the cover of The Guardian on the morning of the 20 September 2019 climate strikes.
On 27 September 2019, the Fachhochschule (University of Applied Science) Potsdam announced that warming stripes graphics had won in the science category of an international competition recognising innovative and understandable visualisations of climate change, the jury stating that the graphics make an "impact through their innovative, minimalist design".
Extensions of warming stripes
In 2018, University of Reading post-doctoral research assistant Emanuele Bevacqua juxtaposed vertical-stripe graphics for CO
2 concentration and for mean global temperature (August), and "circular warming stripes" depicting mean global temperature with concentric coloured rings (November).
In March 2019, German engineer Alexander Radtke extended Hawkins' historical graphics to show predictions of future warming through the year 2200, a graphic that one commentator described as making the future "a lot more visceral". Radtke bifurcated the graphic to show diverging predictions for different degrees of human action in reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
On or before 30 May 2019, U.K.-based software engineer Kevin Pluck designed animated warming stripes that portray the unfolding of the temperature increase, allowing viewers to experience the change from an earlier stable climate to recent rapid warming.
By June 2019, Hawkins vertically stacked hundreds of warming stripe graphics from corresponding world locations and grouped them by continent to form a comprehensive, composite graphic, "Temperature Changes Around the World (1901-2018)".
On 1 July 2019, Durham University geography research fellow Richard Selwyn Jones published a Global Glacier Change graphic, modeled after and credited as being inspired by Hawkins' #ShowYourStripes graphics, allowing global warming and global glacier retreat to be visually juxtaposed. Jones followed on 8 July 2019 with a stripe graphic portraying global sea level change using only shades of blue. Separately, NOAA displayed a graphic juxtaposing annual temperatures and precipitation.
Some warned that warming stripes of individual countries or states, taken out of context, could advance the idea that global temperatures aren’t rising, though research meteorologist Dr. J. Marshall Shepherd said that "geographic variations in the graphics offer an outstanding science communication opportunity". Meteorologist and #MetsUnite coordinator Jeff Berardelli said that "local stripe visuals help us tell a nuanced story—the climate is not changing uniformly everywhere".
Others say the charts should include axes or legends, though the website FAQ page explains the graphics were "specifically designed to be as simple as possible, and to start conversations... (to) fill a gap and enable communication with minimal scientific knowledge required to understand their meaning". J. Marshall Shepherd, former president of the American Meteorological Society, lauded Hawkins' approach, writing that "it is important not to miss the bigger picture. Science communication to the public has to be different" and commending Hawkins for his “innovative” approach and “outstanding science communication” effort.
In The Washington Post, Matthew Cappucci wrote that the "simple graphics ... leave a striking visual impression" and are "an easily accessible way to convey an alarming trend", adding that "warming tendencies are plain as day". Greenpeace spokesman Graham Thompson remarked that the graphics are "like a really well-designed logo while still being an accurate representation of very important data".
CBS News contributor Jeff Berardelli noted that the graphics "aren’t based on future projections or model assumptions" in the context of stating that "science is not left or right. It’s simply factual."
A September 2019 editorial in The Economist hypothesized that "to represent this span of human history (1850-2018) as a set of simple stripes may seem reductive"—noting those years "saw world wars, technological innovation, trade on an unprecedented scale and a staggering creation of wealth"—but concluded that "those complex histories and the simplifying stripes share a common cause," namely, fossil fuel combustion.
- Climate change
- Climate change art
- Climate spiral
- Scientific consensus on climate change
- The Tempestry Project
- In his "Climate stripes for the U.K." Climate Lab Book entry (17 Sept 2018), Ed Hawkins implicitly applied the generic term "climate stripes" to both temperature and rainfall graphics, reserving the more specific term "warming stripes" to the temperature graphic.
- More precisely: a warming stripes graphic generally portrays temperature anomalies, which are deviations below or above a chosen reference or baseline temperature.
- Typically, warming stripe graphics portray temperature anomalies—usually, deviations from an average temperature over a chosen reference period (baseline)—and not absolute temperatures. Also, different graphics' colours may cover different-size temperature ranges (e.g., 0.10° C per colour vs. 0.15° C per colour). Accordingly, a particular colour in one graphic does not necessarily represent the same absolute temperature or temperature anomaly as the same colour in another graphic.
- Hawkins, Ed (4 December 2018). "2018 visualisation update / Warming stripes for 1850-2018 using the WMO annual global temperature dataset". Climate Lab Book. Archived from the original on 17 April 2019. (Direct link to image).
- Kahn, Brian (17 June 2019). "This Striking Climate Change Visualization Is Now Customizable for Any Place on Earth". Gizmodo. Archived from the original on 26 June 2019.
- Cappucci, Matthew (21 June 2019). "Show your stripes: These striking graphics that portray a warming climate are available for countries and regions". The Washington Post. Archived from the original on 23 June 2019.
- Lindsey, Rebecca (28 June 2019). ""Climate stripes" graphics show U.S. trends by state and county". climate.gov. NOAA. Archived from the original on 29 June 2019. ● Includes Jared Rennie's temperature-precipitation graphic (archive).
- "Visualisierungswettbewerb „Vis for Future" – das sind die Gewinner*innen (Visualization Competition "Vis for Future" - these are the winners)". Fachhochschule Potsdam (University of Applied Sciences, Potsdam) (in German). 27 September 2019. Archived from the original on 27 September 2019.
(Google translate:) Whether global or local - the climatic stripes have managed to make an impact through their innovative, minimalist design and convey a message that is still urgent.
- "Ed Hawkins' warming stripes add colour to climate communication". National Centre for Atmospheric Science. U.K. 2018. Archived from the original on 17 May 2019.
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- Jones, Richard Selwyn (8 July 2019). "One of the most striking trends – over a century of global-average sea level change". twitter.com/selwynox. Richard Selwyn Jones. Archived from the original on 30 July 2019. (link to image). For sea level change data, Jones cites Church, J. A.; White, N. J. (September 2011). "Sea-Level Rise from the Late 19th to the Early 21st Century". Surv Geophys. Springer Netherlands. 32 (4–5): 585–602. Bibcode:2011SGeo...32..585C. doi:10.1007/s10712-011-9119-1.
- Kahn, Brian (20 March 2019). "New Climate Change Visualization Presents Two Stark Choices For Our Future". Gizmodo. Archived from the original on 13 June 2019.
- Bevacqua, Emanuele (University of Reading) (November 2018). "Climate Change Visualizations". emanuelebevacqua.eu. Archived from the original on 29 July 2019. (University of Reading affiliate).
- Jones, Richard Selwyn (1 July 2019). "Inspired by @ed_hawkins #ShowYourStripes, here's 50 years of global glacier change!". twitter.com/selwynox. Richard Selwyn Jones. Archived from the original on 1 July 2019. (link to image). For temperature graphic Jones cites Morice, C.P.; Kennedy, J.J.; Rayner, N.A.; Jones, P.D. (17 April 2012). "Quantifying uncertainties in global and regional temperature change using an ensemble of observational estimates: The HadCRUT4 dataset". J. Geophys. Res. 117 (D8): n/a. Bibcode:2012JGRD..117.8101M. doi:10.1029/2011JD017187. For global glacier retreat graphic, Jones cites Zemp, M. (8 April 2019). "Global glacier mass changes and their contributions to sea-level rise from 1961 to 2016". Nature. 568 (7752): 382–386. Bibcode:2019Natur.568..382Z. doi:10.1038/s41586-019-1071-0.
- "Land + Ocean (1850 – Recent) / Monthly Global Average Temperature (annual summary)". berkeleyearth.lbl.gov. Berkeley Earth. 2019. Archived from the original on 29 June 2019. Retrieved 4 July 2019. Data is based an average of "Annual Anomaly" from under "Land + Ocean anomaly using air temperature above sea ice" and from under "Land + Ocean using water temperature below sea ice", and adjusted to have a reference period (baseline) of 1961-1990 for comparison purposes.
- Evertz, Gabriele (1999–2000). "Double". gabrieleevertz.com. Archived from the original on 12 August 2019.CS1 maint: date format (link) (Wikimedia file page)
- "Global Temperature Change (1850-2016)". Climate Lab Book (files). University of Reading. May 2016. Archived from the original on 5 April 2019. (Animated GIF.)
- Meduna, Veronika (17 September 2018). "The climate visualisations that leave no room for doubt or denial". The Spinoff. New Zealand. Archived from the original on 17 May 2019.
- Samenow, Jason (10 May 2016). "Unraveling spiral: The most compelling global warming visualization ever made". The Washington Post. Archived from the original on 22 February 2019.
- Hawkins, Ed (22 May 2018). "Warming stripes". Climate Lab Book. U.K. Archived from the original on 26 May 2018.
- "Our changing climate: learning from the past to inform future choices / Prize lecture". royalsociety.org. London: Royal Society. 30 April 2019. Archived from the original on 14 May 2019. Hawkins described his climate spiral and warming stripes graphics in his Kavli prize lecture (video embedded in reference).
- Amos, Jonathan (21 June 2019). "The chart that defines our warming world / Is this the simplest way to show what is meant by global warming? The chart below organises all the countries of the world by region, time and temperature. The trend is unmistakeable". BBC. Archived from the original on 29 June 2019. (Link to png image)
- Kintisch, Eli (26 June 2019). "New climate 'stripes' reveal how much hotter your hometown has gotten in the past century". Science. Archived from the original on 27 June 2019.
- "#ShowYourStripes (main web page)". ShowYourStripes.info. Retrieved 27 June 2019.
- Peters, Adele (21 June 2019). "This is one of the simplest and best climate change graphics we've ever seen". Fast Company. Archived from the original on 8 July 2019.
- "Climate at a Glance / Global Time Series". ncdc.noaa.gov. NOAA (National Centers for Environmental Information; National Climatic Data Center). December 2018. Archived from the original on 26 July 2019. Retrieved 26 July 2019. Choose 12-Month timescale, December 1880-2019, Northern Hemisphere, Land and Ocean, Plot.
- "Climate at a Glance / Global Time Series". ncdc.noaa.gov. NOAA (National Centers for Environmental Information; National Climatic Data Center). December 2018. Archived from the original on 26 July 2019. Retrieved 26 July 2019. Choose 12-Month timescale, December 1880-2019, Southern Hemisphere, Land and Ocean, Plot.
- "Climate at a Glance / Global Time Series". ncdc.noaa.gov. NOAA (National Centers for Environmental Information; National Climatic Data Center). December 2018. Archived from the original on 26 July 2019. Retrieved 27 July 2019. Choose 12-Month timescale, December 1880-2019, Global, Land and Ocean, Plot.
- "Climate at a Glance / Global Time Series". ncdc.noaa.gov. NOAA (National Centers for Environmental Information; National Climatic Data Center). December 2018. Archived from the original on 27 July 2019. Retrieved 27 July 2019. Choose 12-Month timescale, December 1880-2019, Caribbean Islands, Land and Ocean, Plot.
- "Warming Stripes: Global". sos.noaa.gov. NOAA (Science on a Sphere). Archived from the original on 29 July 2019. Retrieved 29 July 2019.
- "#ShowYourStripes / FAQ Page". ShowYourStripes.info. Retrieved 27 June 2019.
- "Show Your Stripes". public.wmo.int. World Meteorological Organization. 20 June 2019. Archived from the original on 30 June 2019.
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Download Data / Get Data: HTTP● Link to actual data (archive). Data was adjusted to have a reference period of 1961-1990 for comparison purposes.
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GISS / Info / Data● Link to actual data (archive). Data was adjusted to have a reference period of 1961-1990 for comparison purposes.
- "Met Office Hadley Centre observations datasets / HadCRUT 4". metoffice.gov.uk. Met Office. 2019. Archived from the original on 2 January 2019. Retrieved 12 July 2019.
Download Data● Link to data download page (under "HadCRUT4 time series: ensemble members" click on "Global (NH+SH)/2) / / Annual / " to download zip file (Image is based on an average of datasets 1-10) (archive).
● Data underlying this HadCRUT-based diagram is discussed by Morice, C.P.; Kennedy, J.J.; Rayner, N.A.; Jones, P.D. (17 April 2012). "Quantifying uncertainties in global and regional temperature change using an ensemble of observational estimates: The HadCRUT4 dataset". J. Geophys. Res. 117 (D8): n/a. Bibcode:2012JGRD..117.8101M. doi:10.1029/2011JD017187.
- Hawkins, Ed (12 September 2019). "Atmospheric temperature trends". Climate Lab Book. Archived from the original on 12 September 2019. (Higher-altitude cooling differences attributed to ozone depletion and greenhouse gas increases; spikes occurred with volcanic eruptions of 1982-83 (El Chichón) and 1991-92 (Pinatubo).)
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- Shepherd, Marshall (19 June 2019). "Why TV Meteorologists Will 'Show Their Stripes' For Climate On June 21st". Forbes. Archived from the original on 30 June 2019.
- Filmer-Court, Charlie (28 June 2019). "Musicians to TV presenters show their stripes as climate campaign goes viral". Reuters. Archived from the original on 28 June 2019.
- "What is climate change? / How fast is the temperature rising?". Met Office. United Kingdom. September 2019. Archived from the original on 27 September 2019. Climate spiral does not appear in full in archive for some reason; it's before the caption that includes "... The temperature increases as you move away from the centre of the circle."
- "The climate issue". The Economist. 19 September 2019. Archived from the original on 19 September 2019. (archived announcement).
- "The climate issue – A warming world". The Carbon Brief. 20 September 2019.
- Hawkins, Ed (21 July 2019). "#ShowYourStripes / Temperature changes around the world (1901-2018)". Climate Lab Book. Archived from the original on 2 August 2019. (Direct link to image).
- "Average World Temperature Since 1850". Reddit, "DataIsBeautiful" subreddit. 15 June 2016. Archived from the original on 15 June 2016. ● Data source: University of East Anglia Climate Research Unit (CRU) (archive).
- Shepherd, Marshall (24 June 2019). "Why Science For The Public Has To Be Different". Forbes. Archived from the original on 25 June 2019.
- Henson, Bob (20 June 2019). "Show Your Stripes: Iconic Global Warming Imagery Goes Local". wunderground.com. Weather Underground. Archived from the original on 21 June 2019.
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Warming stripes.|
- ShowYourStripes.info — warming stripes portraying historical data for multiple locations
- WarningStripes.com — warming stripes portraying predictive data
- Hawkins, Ed (20 September 2019). "The story behind the viral graphic that electrified the climate movement". Fast Company. Archived from the original on 21 September 2019.
- Rennie, Jared. "Annual United States Climate Stripes: Temperature and Precipitation". ArcGIS. North Carolina State University. — clickable map of warming stripes for each county in 48 contiguous U.S. states
- Windhager, Florian; Schreder, Günther; Mayr, Eva (2019). "On Inconvenient Images: Exploring the Design Space of Engaging Climate Change Visualizations for Public Audiences". Workshop on Visualisation in Environmental Sciences (EnvirVis). The Eurographics Association: 1–8. doi:10.2312/envirvis.20191098. — Survey of climate change visualizations