Welcome to this first edition of our “Climate Figure of the Day” series! Every day, I’ll be sharing a climate or climate change related figure. It might be a graph, a map, or another visual. It might be my own creation or sourced elsewhere. The figures will be posted on Twitter/X.com too, under the hashtag #ClimateFigureOfTheDay. While Twitter gives you a snapshot, here on my website, I’ll delve a bit deeper into the details. Want to stay updated? Be sure to follow me on Twitter/X.com here.
While the climate system is very complex, the main theory behind global warming is relatively simple. There is an imbalance in the Earth’s climate system. Systematically, more energy is coming in. This is due to the increase in greenhouse gases that trap energy (heat), while reflection of the sun’s radiation by aerosols has recently decreased (due to decreased aerosol emissions). The consequence: more and more energy in the system, leading to global warming.
Time to visualize the warming of the earth in an animation. Not many words are needed; climate change is real.
A single cold record doesn’t say anything about the climate. A single heat record doesn’t say anything about the climate.
A systemic shift in the ratio between cold and warm records tells that the distribution is shifting. The climate is warming. See also the ClimateFigureOfTheDay from 21.8.
Both drought and extreme precipitation events become more likely in a warming climate.
Very simply put, this is due to the fact that warm air can hold more water vapor than cold air. This means two things: – saturation is ‘harder’ to reach – when saturation is reached, the air mass contains much more water compared to a cooler atmosphere. The consequence: more drought AND more intense precipitation.
In the attached figure you can see that in most parts of the world both the risk for drought as well as the risk for extreme precipitation, increases.
Climate change will lead to increased public health risks. Bluntly, but truthfully said: this can mean more deaths.
Floods are becoming more likely in a warmer climate. This is due to the fact that warmer air can hold more water vapor. Hence: higher precipitation intensities.
North Atlantic Sea Surface Temperatures even more so.
Global Sea Surface Temperatures are going crazy.
‘When it’s hot, they call it climate, when it’s cold, they call it weather’, is what the deniers generally say. Well, it’s true.
Today’s #ClimateFigureOfTheDay shows the shift in daily max temperatures in summer in The Netherlands between the last century and the current century. The temperature distribution very clearly shifts to the warmer side. Hotter days are more frequent and more hot, while cold days become rarer and less cold.
Our summers are not the same summers as they used to be. And this isn’t just a Dutch issue. Remember yesterday’s ClimateFigureOfTheDay? Climate change is heating up summers everywhere.
Summers are getting hotter in most places on Earth. Especially in the Mediterranean, they become increasingly dangerous. See an example below, in today’s #ClimateFigureOfTheDay.
📊Today’s #ClimateFigureOfTheDay from @Peters_Glen. We are already far past the the point of emission reduction required to limit global warming to 1.5°C.
In July, the temperature anomaly exceeded the limit of 1.5°C warming for the first time. This means not yet that the global temperature has passed the 1.5°C threshold discussed in the Paris Agreement. For that, the 1.5°C threshold should be exceeded on average for many months in a row. However, all the weather disasters happening this summer, are a foretaste of what to expect in a world that is 1.5°C warmer. As today’s figure shows, it seems very unlikely we will be able to limit global warming to this 1.5°C threshold. Many, many more and much worse extreme weather events, are yet to come.
Another confirmation that July was the warmest month on record earlier this week by NASA.
The climate is changing rapidly, and greenhouse gas emissions are the main cause. We are in a #ClimateEmergency
This summer too many people in Northwestern Europe doubted climate change because temperatures were a little below the norm. First of all, they forget about recent warm months (such as June) or the fact that previous summers were often very warm. And moreover: their region is not representative for the whole world.
📊Today’s #ClimateFigureOfTheDay comes from @EliotJacobson. This figure show the anomaly in Antarctic sea ice extent.
The Antarctic sea ice extent has been lingering around 6 standard deviations below the norm. This tells us that, assuming that the data is normally distributed, the current Antarctic Sea Ice Extent is practically impossible in a stable climate. Another indicator of #GlobalWarming.
Yesterday, we showed that the current global sea ice extent is lowest on record for the time of year. This is for most part due to this extremely low Antarctic Sea Ice Extent. Nevertheless, also the Arctic sea ice extent is below average.
Following yesterday’s Climate Figure Of The Day, where we saw that ocean surfaces get warmer and warmer, today we can see more and more ocean surface will get exposed to incoming radiation from the sun. Thus: increasing the potential for warming.
Today’s climate figure of the day is from Copernicus and shows daily global sea surface temperatures (SSTs). Recently, the global sea surface temperature reached the highest levels on record. If this wasn’t yet extreme enough, the global SSTs are normally at their highest in March.
Global sea surface temperatures have constantly been lingering around and well above record values this year. High sea surface temperatures are both a good indicator of climate change as well as a feature with large implications on weather systems and the climate.
One of the main reasons why this is the case, is because the worlds oceans can store enormous amounts of heat. The heat capacity of water is about 4 times warmer than that of the atmosphere. Simultaneously, the density of water is more than 830 times higher than that of air.
The volumetric heat capacity of water is so much larger, that the top few meters of the ocean hold as much heat as the entire atmosphere above it. Considering this, the recent rise in sea surface temperatures is extremely worrying from a climate perspective.
Whereas yesterday, we posted a graph of the global July temperature, now we show a world map of the worldwide July temperature. This map is again from Copernicus.
Again we can see that July was very warm globally, with most of the world showing red colours, even deep red in Northern Canada and parts of the Antarctic and its surrounding seas.
Even in a warming climate though, there is also natural climate variability and weather, meaning that not every place on earth will always be warmer than before. In other words: there are still places that are cooler than normal, as for example was the case in parts of Europe this year.
Another thing we have to keep in mind is that our reference period (1991-2020) has already warmed compared to pre-industrial levels, meaning that compared to the pre-industrial climate, more regions are relatively warm than already visible on this map.
The 2nd #ClimateFigureOfTheDay ever comes from Copernicus. Worldwide, July 2023 was is the warmest month ever recorded. An anomaly of 1.5°C above the 1850-1900 average was measured, reaching the threshold set in the Paris Agreement for the first time. While this isn’t a continuous breach of the Paris Agreement (yet), the impacts are clear.
With this month touching on the 1.5°C threshold, we’re getting a foretaste of what is awaiting us in the future; extremely warm oceans, heatwaves in Southern Europe, Northern Africa, South America and Asia (and more places!), and temperature records are all related this high global temperature. One of the examples of an absolute temperature record: China measured it’s highest temperature on record: 52.2°C. With this amount of global warming, risks of drought, wildfires, but also extreme precipitation, increases – apart from the danger that extreme heat itself brings to humans and other species.
Climate Figure of the Day, 11.8
Today’s figure brings our attention to Svalbard, known as one of the fastest warming places on Earth. The graph illustrates the average July temperature in Svalbard from 1970 to this year. It’s both striking and alarming to note that for the first time, the July temperature soared above 10 degrees, marking the warmest month on record. Since 1970, the month of july has warmed with approximately 0.5°C per decade, a remarkable increase and a statistically significant warming trend.
Svalbard is one of the fastests warming places on earth. On top of the general increased warming (compared to the world average) due to Arctic Amplification, Svalbard experiences additional warming as a consequence of changes in atmospheric circulation patterns and relatively warm water from the Atlantic penetrating further north.