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Climate Lab Book - Ed Hawkins: Rapid increase in heat extremes in Europe

In the last few decades, Europe has warmed not only faster than the global average, but also faster than expected from anthropogenic greenhouse gas increases (van Oldenborgh et al., 2009). With the warming, Europe experienced record-breaking heat waves and extreme temperatures, such as the 2003 European heatwave, 2010 Russian heatwave, and 2015 European heatwave, which …

2017-05-23 17:53   Click to comment

Climate Lab Book - Ed Hawkins: Zonal mean temperature change in observations & models

The warming that has occurred over the past 160 years has not been the same everywhere. Certain regions, such as the Arctic, have warmed far more than the Southern Ocean for example. How well do our climate models represent these differences? One way of examining the regional differences in warming is to look at the …

2017-05-11 10:00   Click to comment

Climate Lab Book - Ed Hawkins: Spiral birthday

Just over a year ago I received an email from a colleague I had never met. Jan Fuglestvedt asked whether I had ever made a spiral version of my global temperature graphics. He ended by suggesting that this was ‘just a (crazy) thought’. But, it was a Friday afternoon – what else was I going …

2017-05-09 08:42   Click to comment

Climate Lab Book - Ed Hawkins: Choose colour scales carefully

When designing scientific graphics, one key choice is about which colour scale to use (something discussed in several previous posts). The animated graphic below is a simulation of how an image would look to someone who is colour blind (a few percent of men). Watch how the pattern emerges as the level of simulated colour …

2017-04-28 07:41   Click to comment

Climate Lab Book - Ed Hawkins: Global temperature change as polka-dots

Inspired by National Geographic’s climate change evidence graphics, I made my own global temperature polka-dot visualisations. In the spirit of experimentation, here are three types, successively getting more complicated. After comments from several people I have made both portrait & landscape versions. I would be interested to know which works best for you. Firstly, global …

2017-04-04 13:00   Click to comment

Climate Lab Book - Ed Hawkins: Frost fairs and the Little Ice Age

The term ‘Little Ice Age’ refers to a period of cooler temperatures between around 1400 and 1850, although a range of dates are used. This climate feature has been inferred from various types of direct and indirect evidence, but it is still not clear how widespread these cooler temperatures were. A new article by Lockwood …

2017-04-03 13:00   Click to comment

Climate Lab Book - Ed Hawkins: Letter to Lamar Smith

The Committee on Science, Space & Technology of the US House of Representatives conducts regular evidence hearings on various science topics. On Wednesday 29th March, there is a hearing on “Climate science: assumptions, policy implications, and the scientific method”. The following letter, summarising the scientific findings of Fyfe et al. (2016) and Karl et al. …

2017-03-29 00:00   Click to comment

Climate Lab Book - Ed Hawkins: Coral reef bleaching

Off the coast of Australia, the corals on the Great Barrier Reef are bleaching and dying. One key reason is the heat. A quick glance at the history of sea surface temperatures in the region shows why the bleaching has become more common and widespread in recent decades.

2017-03-17 13:07   Click to comment

Climate Lab Book - Ed Hawkins: Animating global sea ice changes

Scientists can’t do everything by themselves. We need to engage the millions of citizens who are passionate about knowledge to help solve scientific mysteries and improve our understanding of the world around us. There are many ways that anyone with a computer can help – volunteer to rescue old weather data or loan your computer’s …

2017-02-11 13:34   Click to comment

Climate Lab Book - Ed Hawkins: Defining ‘pre-industrial’

The UN Paris Agreement on climate change aims to ensure increases in global temperature are less than 2°C above ‘pre-industrial’ levels, with an aspirational 1.5°C limit. However, the ‘starting line’ of the pre-industrial era is not defined by the UN agreements, or by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). A new analysis by an …

2017-01-25 07:15   Click to comment

Climate Lab Book - Ed Hawkins: Sparse coverage of temperature observations

One possible criticism of global temperature datasets is that before around 1900 the observed data is too sparse to reliably infer changes in global temperature. Although we cannot travel back in time to take extra measurements to fill the gaps we can test whether the available observations are enough. As a simple example, the figure …

2016-12-16 13:43   Click to comment

Climate Lab Book - Ed Hawkins: U.S. Deep Freeze, December 2016

There had been speculation that record low temperatures would be coming to the United States in early December, and this had been framed as either evidence against global warming in general or that cold air outbreaks are increasing due to climate change. World Weather Attribution (WWA) presents a quantitative study of this cold air outbreak. …

2016-12-14 13:21   Click to comment

Climate Lab Book - Ed Hawkins: Climate graphics of 2016

2016 has been quite a year for the climate. Warmest year ever recorded. Record low sea ice extents at both poles. It has also seen many amazing climate visualisations and animations. I have collected some of my favourites on this storify page, including graphics for temperature, sea ice, pressure observations and Hurricane Matthew. One of …

2016-12-13 18:00   Click to comment

Climate Lab Book - Ed Hawkins: Regional temperature this century

Some of the biggest questions about the future climate we have are: “how much could the climate change this century?”, “how reliable are climate projections?” and “what could happen on the way to 2100?” Also, most people want to know about regional change rather than change to the global mean climate. We have recently produced …

2016-11-27 19:40   Click to comment

Climate Lab Book - Ed Hawkins: Lancashire temperatures, visualised

This visualisation of temperatures in Lancashire (UK) shows annual mean data from 1754-2015. The long-term warming trend is clear, with variability from year to year, and some temporary cooler periods due to large volcanic eruptions. The average of the 19th century (black line) separates the warm and cold colours. This image will be displayed as …

2016-09-27 09:03   Click to comment

Climate Lab Book - Ed Hawkins: Mapping global temperature change

Click image for full size version (warning: 10MB) The visualisation technique of ‘small multiples’ is often used to communicate a simple message. The above example shows maps of temperature change from 1850-2016 – the overall warming trend is obvious even though the details are fuzzy. Technical details: The HadCRUT4.4 dataset is used with anomalies from …

2016-08-24 10:00   Click to comment

Climate Lab Book - Ed Hawkins: Predicting an ice-free Arctic summer

The melt of the summer sea ice in the Arctic is dramatic. Each September, when the ice reaches its annual minimum, there used to be around 7.5 million sq km of ice. It is now regularly below 5 million sq km, and hit a record low of 3.6 million sq km in 2012. This downward …

2016-08-23 10:05   Click to comment

Climate Lab Book - Ed Hawkins: Olympic spiral

If you watched the opening ceremony of the Olympics, you would have noticed a segment discussing climate change, accompanied by graphics of CO2 emissions, Arctic sea ice melting, sea level rise and a somewhat familiar spiral representation of rising global temperatures (above), a version of which you may have seen somewhere before. Needless to say, …

2016-08-08 08:40   Click to comment

Climate Lab Book - Ed Hawkins: Noise and signal in Antarctica

A new study in Nature has highlighted that parts of the Antarctic Peninsula have showed a cooling trend over the past couple of decades. Should we be surprised? Turner et al. produce a ‘stacked’ estimate of temperature change on the Antarctic Peninsula by averaging together observations from six stations and highlight that the strong warming …

2016-07-21 10:37   Click to comment

Climate Lab Book - Ed Hawkins: Reconciling estimates of climate sensitivity

Climate sensitivity characterises the response of the climate to changes in radiative forcing and can be measured in many different ways. However, estimates derived from observations of historical global temperatures have tended to be lower than those suggested by state-of-the-art climate simulators. Are the models too sensitive? A new study largely explains the difference – …

2016-06-27 19:00   Click to comment

Climate Lab Book - Ed Hawkins: Super-duper climate science papers

What was the last truly ‘amazing’, ‘novel’ or ‘spectacular’ science paper that you read? According to a recent bibliographic analysis the chance of encountering such ‘ground-breaking’ research has increased almost nine-fold since the 1970s. Guest post by Rob Wilby, Loughborough University Vinkers et al. (2015) searched the titles, abstracts and keywords of papers held in …

2016-06-22 08:22   Click to comment

Climate Lab Book - Ed Hawkins: Slowdown discussion

The temporary slowdown in global temperatures in the early-2000s is still prompting significant scientific discussion. A recent Commentary on the topic by Fyfe et al. was summarised in an earlier post. In response, a recent post by Rahmstorf et al. reiterates some of the statistical arguments that we discussed briefly in our Commentary1, but misses …

2016-05-24 09:03   Click to comment

Climate Lab Book - Ed Hawkins: Spiralling global temperatures

The animated spiral presents global temperature change in a visually appealing and straightforward way. The pace of change is immediately obvious, especially over the past few decades. The relationship between current global temperatures and the internationally discussed target limits are also clear without much complex interpretation needed. Data: HadCRUT4.4 from January 1850 – March 2016, ……

2016-05-09 14:57   Click to comment

Climate Lab Book - Ed Hawkins: Observing long-term climatic changes with unusual sources

We are all familiar with the usual metrics used to highlight that the climate is changing: surface air temperatures, sea level, sea surface temperatures and ocean heat content all rising, glaciers retreating, Arctic sea ice declining etc. But, there are also many other less well known sources of information about how our climate is changing, …

2016-05-04 15:19   Click to comment

Climate Lab Book - Ed Hawkins: Why rainbow colour scales can be misleading

Regular readers will be aware of the #endrainbow campaign to reduce the use of rainbow colour palettes in scientific figures. At the recent EGU conference, I gave a talk on ‘making better figures’, which included an example of a published conclusion which was incorrect due to the use of a rainbow colour scheme. In a …

2016-04-27 13:06   Click to comment

Climate Lab Book - Ed Hawkins: Global temperature changes since 1850

Technical details: Monthly HadCRUT4.4 global temperatures referenced to ‘pre-industrial’ (defined as mean anomaly from 1850-1900, which is 0.31°C below 1961-1990), plotted using the viridis colour scale to indicate year. I think the dark background works well for this visualisation. Views welcome!

2016-04-11 15:02   Click to comment

Climate Lab Book - Ed Hawkins: A world before ice

The Earth hasn’t always been struggling with global warming. Around 34 million years ago at the Eocene-Oligocene Transition (EOT) the Earth was undergoing a period of global cooling. This significant shift in climate led to the formation of the first permanent ice sheets of the Cenozoic Era over Antarctica, as shown by the dramatic shift …

2016-03-31 08:10   Click to comment

Climate Lab Book - Ed Hawkins: Making sense of the early-2000s warming slowdown

It has been claimed that the early-2000s global warming ‘slowdown’ or ‘hiatus’, characterized by a reduced rate of global surface warming, has been overstated, lacks sound scientific basis, or is unsupported by observations. The evidence presented in a new commentary in Nature Climate Change by Fyfe et al. contradicts these claims. The new Fyfe et …

2016-02-24 10:28   Click to comment

Climate Lab Book - Ed Hawkins: Expectations for 2016 global temperatures

2015 was hot. Globally, it was the warmest year on record by a large margin. But, there was an El Nino event in the Pacific which probably boosted temperatures slightly (by up to 0.1°C). So, what can we expect for 2016? Using an analogy of similar El Nino events we can make some suggestions. The …

2016-01-28 08:49   Click to comment

Climate Lab Book - Ed Hawkins: Earth’s energy imbalance

Surface temperature rise is often thought of as synonymous with climate change. However a recently published paper in Nature Climate Change argues that Earth’s energy imbalance (EEI) is what ultimately sets the pace of climate change and that substantive progress can be made by monitoring this key climate variable. Guest post by Matt Palmer and …

2016-01-27 10:20   Click to comment

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