Barcode-like 'warming stripes' show how Toronto’s average temperatures have changed
Warming stripes illustrating the changes in Toronto's annual average temperatures from 1841 to 2017. (Climate Lab Book)
A climate scientist from the United Kingdom has released a series of barcode-like images that illustrate the long-term changes in temperatures since records began from places around the world, including Toronto.
Ed Hawkins, a climate scientist with the National Centre for Atmospheric Science at the University of Reading, calls the visualizations “warming stripes.”
He has used them to illustrate temperature changes globally, as well as from central England, the U.S. and Toronto.
The stripe that is the darkest blue represents the coldest year, while the darkest red shows the warmest. If temperatures oscillated regularly from hot to cold, the blue and red stripes would be randomly dispersed.
Instead, for most of the locations whose temperature changes have been illustrated by the stripes, there appears to be a clear warming trend.
In Toronto, for instance, where Hawkins plotted annual average temperatures from 1841 to 2017, the colour scale goes from 5.5 C to 11 C. Stripes in various shades of blue eventually become stripes in numerous shades of red.
In a post releasing the visualizations, Hawkins notes that warming stripes for other locations are forthcoming.