Wednesday, December 01, 2021

Weather Stripes

Ed Hawkins' clever Climate Stripes visualizations of global heating over time have quickly become a data visualization design classic. In 2018 Ed Hawkins, a climate scientist at the National Centre for Atmospheric Science at the University of Reading, released this new form of data visualization to illustrate how temperatures have risen around the globe over the last century. 

Ed's Climate Stripes visualizations use colored stripes to show the average annual temperatures for every year over the course of a whole century. The result is a very powerful and clear visualization of how temperatures have begun to rise very quickly over the last few years when compared to previous norms.

Weather Spark may well have been influenced by Ed Hawkins' Climate Stripes in their development of city weather plots. You can view the Weather Spark weather plot for your city (and for other cities around the globe) on The Weather Year Round Anywhere on Earth

Like climate stripes these weather plots use the x-axis to show temperature over time - although in this case there are 12 rather than 100 data points to show average temperatures for each month rather than for each year in one century. Weather plots also differ from climate stripes through the addition of a y-axis. The y-axis on Weather Spark's weather plots show average temperature throughout the course of one day (24 hours). Weather Plots can therefore be used to view the average temperatures in a city during the course of a day in any month of the year. 

Weather Plots are particularly good for comparing the average temperatures of different cities. For example the weather plots for London and San Francisco reveal that both cities share a similar mild climate. San Francisco's season of 'comfortable' weather (shown in yellow) lasts for a few more months than the 'comfortable' season in London. However 'comfortable' temperatures in London tend to last longer during the day, resulting in London having warmer summer evenings than those experienced in San Francisco. 


Toronto actually experiences higher average temperatures during the height of summer than both San Francisco and London. However Toronto is much colder in the winter. It experiences 'freezing' temperatures during the winter months, while San Francisco and London both enjoy relatively mild winters.


You can use the Weather Spark interactive map to view the weather plots for other cities around the world. The map also provides an interesting overview of the average monthly and hourly temperatures which can be experienced at different latitude and longitudes around the world. 

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