Makeover Monday: Climate Change

by Daniel Watt

This week’s makeover Monday viz shows how global temperature has risen pretty much year on year from 1850 to now.  This was created as an animation with the temperature spiralling up as the animation plays.

What I like about this visualisation:

  1.  It is compact – showing almost 2000 data points as a traditional linechart may not have conveyed the rise in the same way.
  2. The axis give context, showing the 2 degree threshold which will mark the end of life as we know it…
  3. Using black as a background really makes the colours stand out and bring to my mind images of looking at earth from space.

What I don’t think works:

  1. As the animation plays, in some years the temperature drops (during the 1970s), but this is quickly forgotten due to the line overlaying
  2. It is not clear whether the colours represent the year or the temperature change.
  3. As with any radar chart, it is almost impossible to compare between the categories.  For example, I cannot tell if temperature rise is greater in June or December.

For my makeover I wanted to investigate if there was a story behind the months of the year:

Is the temperature rise more evident in some years than others?

Is the temperature rise more strongly correlated with time in some months more than others?

It turns out that five of the months have much stronger correlations between year and temperature.  So there are more freak / outlier temperatures in the remaining months in the bottom of the chart.  The month in top right of the chart, March is both strongly correlated and showing a greater temperature increase than the other months so we should be wary of celebrating the warmest March on record, it could signal the beginning of the end…