• 09.02.16

Watch The World Heat Up In 167 Maps

A simple and effective visual reminder of how hot it’s getting.

Watch The World Heat Up In 167 Maps

When the world broke temperature records in July–making it the hottest month ever recorded–it was the 15th straight month to break records. When 2016 began, January was the hottest January on record by a large margin.


A simple new visualization shows how January temperatures have changed in specific regions around the world over the last 167 years. Blue pixels show areas that are cooler than the average temperatures from 1961 to 1990. Red pixels show areas that are hotter. Areas that don’t have sufficient data show up gray.

Climate scientist Ed Hawkins, who designed the visualization, made a “climate spiral” GIF earlier this year that went viral and inspired new variations. The climate spiral showed how global temperatures had changed; with this chart, he wanted to show how specific regions have changed, using a “small multiples” design that repeats images to make a larger point.

“The small multiples highlight that nearly every region has warmed, which links to people’s everyday experiences in their own location, and makes climate change more relevant on an individual level,” Hawkins says. “This simple message is obvious, even from a quick glance at the graphic.”

Looking through the maps, it’s possible to see El Niño and La Niña temporarily warm and cool the Pacific Ocean. And as the map gets redder–especially near the Arctic–it’s one more way to visualize how quickly the climate is changing.

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About the author

Adele Peters is a staff writer at Fast Company who focuses on solutions to some of the world's largest problems, from climate change to homelessness. Previously, she worked with GOOD, BioLite, and the Sustainable Products and Solutions program at UC Berkeley.