Warming Stripes: Where Did They Come From and What Exactly Do They Mean? (Credit: Climate Central)
The week leading up to the Summer Solstice marked the second year that meteorologists across the world took to twitter through #MetsUnite in an effort to educate the public on the perils of climate change. The movement started based off the promotion of Ed Hawkins’ Warming Stripes—a stunning visual representation of the earth’s warming atmosphere through the use of stripes representing the annual temperature for every year since record-keeping began. While atmospheric science professionals worldwide donned earrings and pins laced with the stripes, some members of the public asked: what is the origin of these warming stripes, and what exactly do they mean?
Based on modern day science, many in the meteorology community have concluded that the earth’s average annual temperature is warming. This is old news. However, deciphering this data for the public can be difficult and overwhelming. Visual representations of climate science are often the best and most efficient way to grab the public’s attention when it comes to this heavy-duty science. Originally, Hawkins had only published warming stripes graphics for a handful of European cities and countries. However, in the past year, Hawkins, a scientist at Climate Central, was able to expand the graphics to cities, states, and countries worldwide, including many U.S. states and cities. Climate Central normally publicizes data for a hand-picked 244 U.S. cities that represent a variety of regional climates; this year, they made warming stripes available for 160 of those 244 cities. The chosen cities were based on available annual average temperature records for various regions, so for cities that didn’t have sufficient data (data needed to date back to the mid-19th Century) you can search for warming stripes in a nearby city, or any of the 50 states.
The warming stripes that were created this year very closely followed Climate Central’s Earth Day report on the fastest warming cities and states. The stripes indicated that cities in the Southwest, Northeast, and Alaska were the fastest warming, consistent with the aforementioned Earth Day climate report. This is an important observation given the many effects increased temperatures can have on our average climate; more extreme blizzards, severe thunderstorms, wildfires… sadly, the list goes on. It is remarkably important that meteorologists, from the broadcast sector, to research, continue to not only promote warming stripes, but climate science in general since this is the data worked with. Meteorologists in research are those who curate the data; those in the private sector may use the data to analyze the risk in poses to private consumers and the public; and broadcast meteorologists, often the only scientists much of the public come into contact with on a daily basis, report the data and make it known to the public. If meteorologists in various sectors continue to work together in the climate science field, we may just be able to make sure this is an issue we, as a united society, can confront and solve together.
For more about the climate, click here!
©2019 Weather Forecaster Jacob Dolinger
Climate Change and Coffee
Espresso. Cold brew. Macchiato. Americano. French press. Pumpkin spice latte.
Are you craving coffee yet? It is the most consumed beverage in America, aside from tap water. Many people drink it for an energy boost in the morning, or when they hit the mid-afternoon slump. Much of the world’s coffee crops are grown in tropical areas, but these crops are under serious threat from anthropogenic, or human-caused, climate change. There are three ways that climate change will harm coffee crops: hotter temperatures, longer and more frequent droughts, and changes in the type of pests in the area.
Coffee is a temperature-sensitive crop. Different types of coffee beans survive best in different temperature ranges. For example, the arabica bean, a popular type of coffee bean, grows best in average temperatures between 64-70 degrees Fahrenheit. If temperatures are above 70 degrees for too long, plants will produce fewer beans. This means fewer beans are available to be turned into coffee.
All crops, not just coffee, need water to grow. Droughts are projected to happen more often and last longer in the future as the climate changes. As these droughts strike areas that produce coffee, bean yields will decrease. This, too, means that availability of coffee will decrease. In a world that is warmer and more drought-prone, these two factors will combine to devastate coffee production.
Finally, changes in temperature and precipitation mean changes in the types of bugs and fungi that can live and grow in certain areas. While coffee currently grows in areas with pests and diseases that they are resistant to or tolerant of, this is likely to change in the future. Some of these pests may prefer the warmer conditions that come with climate change. Extreme rainfall after a drought may be prime conditions for certain fungi to invade the area quickly.
All three of these factors together spell trouble for one of the world’s favorite beverages. But remember, there are ways you can help prevent climate change. As the summer starts, consider setting your air conditioner to a warmer temperature, especially as you leave the house for the day. This will help save energy by reducing the amount of fossil fuels being burned and carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere. Additionally, this will save you money on your energy bill!
© 2019 Meteorologist Margaret Orr
To learn more about climate change, click here!
Image: stock photo