Warming stripes show that climate change is here and now

Photo-illustration: Pixabay

Broadcast meteorologists and climate scientists are uniting on June 21 – the Summer/Winter Solstice – for Show Your Stripes day to raise awareness of the urgent need to act on climate change.

UN Climate Change, the World Meteorological Organization and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change are backing the campaign, which is also designed to build momentum for a strong outcome of the UN Climate Change Conference COP26 in Glasgow in December.

2021 is a make-or-break year for climate action, with the window to prevent the worst impacts of climate change – which include ever more frequent more intense droughts, floods and storms – closing rapidly.

The campaign is inspired by data visualizations from Prof. Ed Hawkins, a climate scientist at the University of Reading in the United Kingdom and a lead author of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s Sixth Assessment Report. He has spearheaded the creation of “warming stripes” graphics, which are visual representations of the change in temperature as measured in each country over at least the past 100 years. Each stripe represents the temperature in that country averaged over a year and is based on internationally recognized datasets.

“The Warming Stripes are a simple and compelling way to visualise that the world is warming and that every country is warming. The graphics can help start local conversations about the increasing risks from climate change wherever you live, and the necessary actions to avoid the worst consequences”, comments Prof. Hawkins.

For virtually every country or region, the stripes turn from mainly blue to mainly red in more recent years, illustrating the rise in average temperatures in that country. The most dramatic change is in the Arctic, which is warming more than twice as fast as the global average.

The campaign is run in conjunction with Climate Central, an independent organization of leading scientists and journalists researching and reporting the facts about our changing climate and its impact on the public. It is supported by TV weather presenters and meteorologists who will be displaying the warming stripes on their broadcasts and social media posts.

Photo-illustration: Unsplash (Markus Spiske)

“Weather presenters make excellent climate communicators. You play a major role in educating the public about the risks of climate change and extreme weather,” WMO Secretary-General Prof. Petteri Taalas told a workshop of weather presenters organized by the International Weather and Climate Forum.

“The WMO State of the Climate report showed that 2020 was one of the three warmest years on record. It capped the warmest decade on record.  The average global temperature was 1,2°C above the pre-industrial levels and glaciers continued to retreat, with long-term impacts on sea level rise and water security,” said Prof. Taalas.

Weather presenters and the general public are invited to participate in the campaign by downloading the graphic from their region or country and posting it on social media using the hashtags #ShowYourStripes and #COP26.

For example, you can update your social accounts to #ShowYourStripes with ready-to-use graphics including a Facebook frame for your profile image, a Facebook camera filter, cover photos for Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

Source: World Meteorological Organization