Ed Hawkins, Climate Lab Book

Ed Hawkins

Climate Lab Book

United Kingdom

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Past articles by Ed:

From the familiar to the unknown

Changes in climate are often analysed in terms of trends or differences over time. However, for many impacts requiring adaptation, it is the amplitude of the change (the ‘signal’) relative to the local amplitude of climate variability (the ‘noise’) which is more relevant. We consider the ‘signal-to-noise’ ratio in observations of local temperature, highlighting that many regions are already… → Read More

2019 years

The most common comment on the ‘Warming Stripes’ visualisations is: ‘what happened before 1850’? I’m glad you asked. We have a new reconstruction of global temperature going back to the year 1AD thanks to the work of the PAGES2k team. This reconstruction includes data from a wide variety of proxy records such as tree rings, cave deposits, corals, etc. The warming over the past 50 years is stark… → Read More

Glimpsing the future

In December 2019, the average temperature across Australia was about 2°C above what would be expected for the present-day, which is another 1.5°C above temperatures that were normal for December before humans started warming the climate. These extreme temperatures have contributed to the catastrophic bushfires which have devastated large areas. But what may be considered ‘normal’ is constantly… → Read More

The story behind the viral graphic that electrified the climate movement

The creator of the “climate stripes,” which was downloaded a million times in its first week, explains how data visualization can help communicate science. → Read More

2018 visualisation update

With 2018 coming towards an end, the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) released their provisional State of the Climate report. The WMO asked whether Climate Lab Book could provide some updated graphics, also reproduced here. Warming stripes for 1850-2018 using the WMO annual global temperature dataset. Climate spiral for the WMO global temperature dataset. Arctic sea ice concentration from… → Read More

Climate stripes for the UK

Following the ‘warming stripes‘ graphics for different locations around the world, this post focusses on the UK. The Met Office makes easily available long-running climate data from a small number of locations*. The visualisations below show the common changes in temperature and rainfall for the five longest climate monitoring stations in that set – Stornoway, Armagh, Durham, Sheffield &… → Read More

Hay Festival

Recently, I was lucky enough to speak at an event at the Hay Festival – one of the most famous literary festivals in the world. The Festival had paired up three environmental scientists with three artists and authors to produce a series of hour-long live events, and provided us with an opportunity to talk about science with a very different audience. Two of the pairs produced animations – one… → Read More

Warming stripes

A new set of climate visualisations, communicating the long term rise in temperatures for particular locations as a changing set of colours from blue to red. Annual temperatures in central England since 1772 Annual temperatures for the contiguous USA since 1895 Annual temperatures in Toronto since 1841 → Read More

Warming stripes

Climate change is a complex global issue, requiring simple communication about its effects at the local scale. This set of visualisations highlight how we have witnessed temperatures change across the globe over the past century or more. The colour of each stripe represents the temperature of a single year, ordered from the earliest available data at each location to now. All other superfluous… → Read More

Trends in extremes

Twenty years ago, the trend in annual mean global mean temperature became detectable. Ten years ago, regional seasonal mean temperature trends were becoming clear. Nowadays, we can see trends even in weather extremes. In this post I show trends in long-term meteorological station data for hot, cold and wet extremes, and share some thoughts on tropical cyclones and droughts. It is underpinned by… → Read More

Uncertainty in warming since pre-industrial times

The consequences of the Paris Agreement’s choice of the pre-industrial as its baseline have been discussed previously on this blog. This choice makes sense from a climate forcing perspective (as radiative forcings are measured with respect to a quasi-equilibrated state, and the well-observed recent past is not close to have finished responding to anthropogenic drivers). Looking back into the… → Read More

Is the 1.5°C target still reachable?

In the Paris climate agreement it was agreed to limit global warming to well below 2 degrees Celsius and to drive efforts to limit the temperature increase even further to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. There has been a debate whether the ambitious climate change mitigation goal of 1.5 °C is still within reach. This was fueled by a paper by Millar et al (NGS, 2017), which… → Read More

What do future eruptions mean for climate projections?

The world has not seen a major volcanic event for at least 25 years, but the tropical volcano Mt Agung on Bali is now threatening to erupt. Mt Agung’s last eruption in 1963 was one of the largest during the 20th century and had widespread climatic effects. Going further back in time, ice core-based volcanic reconstructions reveal events – such as the Samalas eruption in 1257 in Indonesia – that… → Read More

Are the models “running too hot”?

Recent media headlines have again discussed the issue of whether climate models are overly sensitive to greenhouse gases. These headlines have misinterpreted a study by Millar et al. which was discussing carbon budgets to limit global temperature rise to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels. A recent study by Medhaug et al. analysed the issue of how the models have performed against recent… → Read More

Are the models “running too hot”?

Recent media headlines have again discussed the issue of whether climate models are overly sensitive to greenhouse gases. These headlines have misinterpreted a study by Millar et al. which was discussing carbon budgets to limit global temperature rise to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels. A recent study by Medhaug et al. analysed the issue of how the models have performed against recent… → Read More

Weathermen of Ben Nevis

For twenty years between 1883 and 1904, three intrepid weathermen lived at the top of Ben Nevis – the highest mountain in the UK – experiencing some of the worst weather the country has to offer. Every hour, day and night, winter and summer, and whatever the weather, one of them would step outside and check the meteorological instruments, diligently recording the observations. This was a… → Read More

Mapping changes in UK temperature

Click for larger version. The UK Met Office have published an updated dataset of UK climate data from 1910-2016 on a 5km x 5km grid. The maps above show mean annual temperatures in each decade relative to the long-term average of 1910-99. The UK has warmed over the past century, but not at the same rate everywhere. The east seems to have warmed more than the west. Nor have temperatures changed… → Read More

Linking global temperature and Arctic sea ice changes

As the annual September sea ice minimum in the Arctic approaches, the usual questions arise about whether this year will set a new record for the extent or volume of ice left at the end of the summer. Although there was a new winter record low in 2017 it is looking unlikely that the summer will also set a record for extent, but there is still a month to go. We understand that sea ice melt is… → Read More

Greenland reflections

Icebergs are much like clouds. They form all shapes and sizes, with a multitude of colours and textures. They are dynamic, constantly shifting, and drifting with the prevailing currents and winds. Some days there are lots and other days there are few. The regions where icebergs form are some of the most awe-inspiring environments on the planet, but are undergoing rapid changes. Recently, I was… → Read More

Volcano reveals simpler than expected cloud-climate response to tiny aerosol particles

In new research a volcanic eruption is exploited as a natural laboratory to test how tiny aerosol particles in the atmosphere influence climate through their effect on cloud. Guest post by Richard Allan Pollution haze presents a serious health problem for many regions, particularly large cities such as Beijing. Yet small pollutant particles in the atmosphere, or aerosol, also influence our… → Read More