Monday, December 16, 2019

UK Small Warming Maps

Last week German newspaper Zeit created an impressive small multiples visualization of global heating in Germany. Zeit's Too Warm Here uses 137 small colored maps of Germany to illustrate how the country has warmed since 1881. Each successive map is colored to show the average temperature in the country for that year.

I liked the visualization so much that I wanted to create a small multiples visualization of UK average temperatures over time. My UK Warming Maps is 50 small maps of the UK, each one colored to show the average temperature for each successive year from 1969-2018.

I'm not entirely happy with the results. I don't think 50 years is quite long enough to clearly see the pattern of rising temperatures in the UK. I would have liked to have made a visualization with at least a hundred maps to show rising temperatures over the last century. However I only had a few hours to make this visualization yesterday and I only got as far as creating 50 maps. When I have more time I might complete the whole 100 years.

I created the visualization using 50 SVG maps of the UK, with each map colored by the average annual temperature for that year. My UK Warming Maps uses average annual temperature data from the Met Office. The color scale works by coloring each year's map by how much the average temperature in that year was above or below the average mean temperature in the UK in the 50 years from 1969-2018. Despite only showing 50 years you can clearly see how the temperatures in the last 20 years have nearly all been over the 50 year average temperature for the UK.

If you want to create your own small multiples mapped visualization then you might like Webkid's Small Multiple Maps Using d3. Using d3 you could create a web visualization which is much more interactive than my static image. For example you could create a visualization which allowed you to click on the individual maps to reveal the average annual temperature for that year.