Dashboard Week Day 1: Gulf of Mexico Water temperature Observation

by Jake Reilly

And so it begins, the first day of dashboard week. Today Andy set us the challenge of finding insights from a historical dataset of the water temperatures of the Gulf of Mexico. Here's how I got on...

The Data

The data included water temperatures at different depths and locations over the span of 70 or so years. I decided quite early on that I would only look at surface temperatures of the water, and so filtered down all temperature readings to a maximum depth of 1 meter.

My Approach

I approached analysis of the surface temperature from two angles. I wanted to look at seasonal temperatures and extreme temperatures.

When looking at seasonal temperatures, I noticed that earlier years only had temperature measurements from two or three months. I therefore decided to filter the data down further to only include values measured from 1990 onwards, so that there was an even analysis of temperature over the course of a year.

I decided to make two charts in my seasonal analysis. The first was a heat map which showed the average surface temperature for each month of each year. This clearly illustrated that the surface temperature was on average hotter in the summer months and cooler in the winter months, as expected. I did however come across a few anomalies, particularly in July 2010. In this month the average temperature was a lot cooler than that of previous and future years. After doing a bit of research, I found that this was at the same time as the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, which I thought may have been responsible for this anomaly in some way?

The second chart focused on the percentage change of the average temperature since 1990. This chart showed a trend of the summer months getting warmer and the winter months getting cooler, resulting in more extreme temperatures.

For my analysis of extreme temperatures I made two charts. The first looked at the average Max/Min Temperature for each location over time. The second looked at how many of them Min/Max Temperatures occurred in each year. It clearly shows that the more extreme temperatures for each location are occurring in more recent years.

The Dashboard

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