TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — On the first day of summer each year, the weather and climate concerned community take part in a campaign called #ShowYourStripes.
Using a colorful image, communicators convey just how quickly the climate has been warming in the past few decades.
The visual was created by Ed Hawkins, a professor at the University of Reading in the UK. In a very simple yet stark way the image communicates a climate which has warmed rapidly over the past couple of decades.
Each stripe represents a year. Years that are below the 20th century average temperature are blue and years in which the global temperature exceeds that average temperature are red. The darker the color, the further away from normal that year was.
The rapid warming observed in the past few decades is a direct consequence of the burning of fossil fuels for energy and the release of more and more heat trapping greenhouse gases. This is escalating the pace of climate change and its impacts, like more extreme weather.
So in 2018, now WFLA Chief Meteorologist and Climate Specialist Jeff Berardelli, asked Hawkins for permission to use his Warming Stripes visual in a campaign to enable meteorologists worldwide to educate their viewers about climate change.
The event was a big success. People really took to the simple Warming Stripes visual. Realizing it’s success Hawkins, Woods Placky and Berardelli renamed the campaign #ShowYourStripes and opened it up to the public. It’s taken place each year since on the summer solstice with millions of people participating.
Since then Hawkins Warming Stripes have become the symbol of climate change. The US House of Representatives Climate Committee use the visual in their logo, NOAA and the UN use it to educate about climate change, artists use the visual in art installations around the globe and Greta Thunberg’s new climate book features the design on the cover, just to name a few uses.
In Tampa the climate is warming close to the average pace of the rest of the Earth. The warming has picked up pace in the last couple of decades due to greenhouse warming and Urban Heat Island Effect.
Tampa’s climate is warming. Credit: Climate Central
But other regions are warming much faster. The Arctic circle (below) is warming at 3 times the pace of the rest of the globe. This accelerated warming is due to the rapid loss of ice and decreasing influence of nature’s cooling mechanism.
But perhaps the most alarming Warming Stripes visual is the one below. This represents 2000 years worth of global data, put together using the PAGES2K database constructed through proxies like tree rings. The image below shows just how abnormal the rapid warming in the last century has been.
It’s important to mention that humans can slow or even stop this warming, as shown below, by reducing its dependence on fossil fuels. But it will take a rapid change and what some may call a herculean lift to stop the warming fast enough to avert climate breakdown.