Climate scientist Ed Hawkins has designed an effective GIF to show the global warming trends from 1850 to 2016 as part of his efforts to better communicate relevant scientific results. The animation he made has received a lot of attention both at the University of Reading in the UK, where he works as a professor, and on Twitter.
Many of his colleagues have praised his visual animation, which clearly reflects the steady and alarming rise in Earth’s temperature as a result of the accumulation of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.
The climate scientist and professor said this version of temperature records is highly effective because it communicates trends by itself. A fellow researcher at the University of Oslo, Jan Fuglestvedt, gave him the idea of a spiral.
“It was just designed to try and communicate in a different way. As scientists I think we need to communicate and try different things, and this was just one of those trials, and it has turned out very well,” Hawkins said, according to the Washington Post.
The graphic shows the same baselines the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change used in its most recent report, as it charts monthly global temperature data from the U.K. Met Office and compares each month to the average for the same period from 1850 to 1900.
— Ed Hawkins (@ed_hawkins) May 9, 2016
A slow warming pace became aggressive over the years
A clear warming alarm is not registered at the beginning of the GIF. Scientists believe that from the 1950s through the 1970s sulfate aerosols from air pollution helped tackle the effects of carbon dioxide and keep the Earth cooler for a short period of time. Around the 1970s, that pollution was gone and a spike in warming trends began.
There is when it becomes undeniable that temperatures begin to come closer to the 2º C (4º F) target above pre-industrial levels by the end of this century. The graphic also shows a more ambitious target of 1.5º C (3º F).
Hawkins’ animation reflects that the past 11 months have all been the warmest on record, which marks the longest streak in the temperature data ever kept by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
El Niño event has served as a small push to the record-setting temperatures in 1998 and in 2016. But decades of greenhouse gas emissions have been the main cause of the heat that has built up in our atmosphere.
Hawkins’ animation reflects that the Earth is quickly moving to the 1.5 and 2 degrees marks, which surely will bring catastrophes. It is important to note that a brief period in the red line would not be enough to reach these targets unless the average temperature stays at that level.
According to research previously published by Hawkins, our world could cross the 2-degree mark by 2060 if emission levels keep rising, let alone the 1.5-degree threshold.
Source: Washington Post