Broadcast meteorologists and climate scientists united on Monday, June 21, 2021 – the Summer/Winter Solstice – for Show Your Stripes day to raise awareness of the urgent need to act on climate change.
UN Climate Change, the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) are backing the campaign, which is also designed to build momentum for a strong outcome of the UN Climate Change Conference COP26 in Glasgow in December.
2021 has been described as a make-or-break year for climate action, with the window to prevent the worst impacts of climate change – which include ever more frequent more intense droughts, floods and storms – closing rapidly.
The campaign is inspired by data visualisations from Ed Hawkins, a climate scientist at the University of Reading in the United Kingdom and a lead author of the IPCC’s Sixth Assessment Report. He has spearheaded the creation of “warming stripes” graphics, which are visual representations of the change in temperature as measured in each country over at least the past 100 years. Each stripe represents the temperature in that country averaged over a year and is based on internationally recognised datasets.
For virtually every country or region, the stripes turn from mainly blue to mainly red in more recent years, illustrating the rise in average temperatures in that country. The most dramatic change is in the Arctic, which is warming more than twice as fast as the global average.
The campaign is run in conjunction with Climate Central, an independent organisation of leading scientists and journalists researching and reporting the facts about the changing climate and its impact on the public. It is supported by TV weather presenters and meteorologists who are displaying the warming stripes on their broadcasts and social media posts.
“Weather presenters make excellent climate communicators. You play a major role in educating the public about the risks of climate change and extreme weather,” WMO Secretary-General, Prof. Petteri Taalas, told a workshop of weather presenters organised by the International Weather and Climate Forum.
“The WMO State of the Climate report showed that 2020 was one of the three warmest years on record. It capped the warmest decade on record. The average global temperature was 1.2°C above the pre-industrial levels and glaciers continued to retreat, with long-term impacts on sea level rise and water security,” said Prof. Taalas.
A WMO report, produced by the UK Met Office, shows that there is about a 40% chance of the annual average global temperature temporarily reaching 1.5°C in at least one of the next five years. This likelihood is said to be increasing with time.
There is a 90% chance of at least one year between 2021-2025 becoming the warmest on record, it was gathered.