If you look up the weather forecast on a hot day, a new weather site will also tell you how hot it’s likely to be in 2050–and show you exactly how much local temperatures have risen over the last 45 years.
It’s weather with a side of climate science, as the founders say. The site, called WXshift, is a project from Climate Central, an organization of scientists and journalists who report on climate change.
The group’s goal is to make climate science simple, non-threatening, and apolitical–“just the facts,” says Richard Wiles, Climate Central’s senior vice president–so it can reach the greatest number of people.
Beyond the obvious connections between climate and weather, the organization realized that the platform would be an ideal way to share climate stories with more people. “The weather is the most searched subject online, except one thing that shall remain nameless,” Wiles says.
Each day, the site pulls in data from a relevant trend. If it’s raining, you might learn how much storms have increased in your area. On a sunny day in San Francisco, you might read about the drought. In the winter, the site can use snowy days to debunk the misconception that cold weather disproves climate change by displaying long term warming trends.
“You can tailor it,” Wiles says. “In Minnesota, you do the number of days below -10. And you can see it’s just dropping. In St. Louis, how many days below zero. In the past 10 years, they haven’t had a night below zero, and they used to have them all the time.”
Climate Central started sharing climate graphics with TV meteorologists in 2012, but wanted to reach everyone who gets their weather online. “If you just did TV, you’re missing more than half the country,” says Wiles. “So we had to go digital.”
Next year, they plan to release an app. They’re hoping their approach will steal users from traditional weather sites since they’re offering more information. “From our point of view, climate is the future for weather,” he says. “It’s the next thing in weather. I think it’s where the stories are, and it’s what people care about more and more.”