The dead of winter is a hard time for climate journalists. As snow falls from the sky, like it does and will continue to do every winter, climate deniers are given more fodder to make baseless claims. “It’s freezing outside and you’re whining about warming,” they say, as if a localized weather event were reflective of a long-term global climate shift.
Frustrating as it is, the inevitable increase in climate change trolling during cold season is at the very least beneficial because it forces us to remind ourselves of the long-term nature of climate change. Climate change does not manifest itself as one hot day, nor does it disprove itself with one freezing night. In fact, it is characterized by swaths of peer-reviewed data that have shown clear warming trends at every corner of the globe — not just outside our windows — over the last 125 years.
Nowhere does this fact manifest itself more than in a newly updated interactive map from the weekly science and technology magazine New Scientist. Titled “Our Warming World,” the map — published a year ago and updated last week with 2013 data — shows yellow, orange, and red splotches to illustrate just how much different areas have warmed up over the years, in some cases since 1881. The colors are relative to the average temperature between 1951 and 1980, a period New Scientist says is “the earliest period for which there was sufficiently good coverage for comparison” worldwide. It uses Surface Temperature Analysis data from the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies.
Though the map starts slightly zoomed out, it can be honed in to a specific city, or broadened to see how climate change has warmed the whole world differently. As can probably be expected, the map shows that areas like northern Canada and Greenland are currently three degrees celsius warmer than the 1951 – 1980 average, though those were nearly 3 degrees celsius below that average in the late 1800s. More extreme warming can be seen in Russia, South America and Northern Africa. Compared to the rest of the world, the United States’ warming is moderate — still occurring, but moderate.
Indeed, New Scientists’ map is not the only source that has told us of the earth’s gradual climatic change, which manifests itself most extremely in Arctic areas. A study released in late January by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration showed climate model projections with a temperature increase of +13° Celsius, or 23°F, across the entire Arctic by late fall 2100, and a 5° Celsius, or 9°F, increase in late spring 2100 if current carbon dioxide emissions are increased without a mitigation scenario. As of now, Greenland’s fastest-moving glacier, the one that “is widely believed to be the glacier that produced the large iceberg that sank the Titanic in 1912,” is at record speed, a fact scientists believe is due to sea level rise.
As climate change most clearly manifests itself in places like the Arctic, New Scientists’ map helps put that warming in perspective with our own — and hopefully reminds us that the world extends beyond our backyards.
New Scientists’ map can be accessed here.