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A new resource - high rez climate graphics

Posted on 14 December 2010 by John Cook

Graphics used in science communication are often complicated and overburdened with details, trying to provide as much information as possible. But when you're communicating science to a broad audience, your visuals need to contain just the bare minimum required to get the message across. Cram too much detail in there and your meaning can get lost in a sea of factoids. So often when I scratch around for good climate graphics to communicate the required message, I can't find anything simple enough and am forced I create my own. As the number of visuals at Skeptical Science have built up over time, I often get asked for high rez versions for powerpoint presentations or print publications. Especially since The Scientific Guide to Global Warming Skepticism was released. So to make things easier for everyone (and let's be honest, to save me time in the long run), I've created a new resource: Climate Graphics by Skeptical Science, featuring high rez versions of the original graphics created at Skeptical Science.

All the graphics are licensed under a Creative Commons Licence so everyone is welcome to use them in any non-commercial use (and for commercial use, just contact me for permission). For each graphic, I've included a JPEG typically 1024 pixels wide, suitable for use in Powerpoint presentations. For those printing on paper, I've included Window Metafiles. These are in vector form so they print at high resolution at any size (yep, a Skeptical Science graphic would look great on a billboard). I'll also try to include Excel spreadsheets of the data and links to the data sources whenever possible (e.g. - if I'm not too busy and can be bothered).

So far, I've only uploaded a handful of graphics - the easier ones that I had lying around in a handy format. I slightly reformatted the Solar Activity vs Global Temperature graph and added some details on where the data came from. The spreadsheet also includes all the raw data:

Similarly, when uploading the Total Heat Content graph, I also included some details on where the data came from (I often get asked about this) and also uploaded the spreadsheet (note - the Excel spreadsheet has slightly different formatting to the final version - I did some visual tweaking after exporting from Excel):

I plan to add more graphics steadily over time. When putting together The Scientific Guide to Global Warming Skepticism, I finally figured out how to export graphs from Excel into vector format (by printing to a PDF) so I'd like to go through all my old graphs and create nice sharp, Windows Metafile versions.

I may also set up a feature allowing Skeptical Science translators to add translated versions of each graphic - that'll come in version 2 :-)

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Comments 1 to 23:

  1. Great idea John. This should help us all. Bob
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  2. Thankyou.I used to cringe at the thought of looking at a simple graph.I have caught on and wish to move on..I think your work will be Very helpful Jean M
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  3. I take it we can use them when arguing on message boards without having to mither you for every occasion, provided we also provide the link to you as well? I wouldn't want to burden you with too much to answer to!
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    Response: Absolutely, do please use the graphics elsewhere and no need to ask (that was the point of the Creative Commons licence). Now that you bring it up, it might be helpful if I also include the most relevant link for people to link to if using the graphic in a forum. Eg - for the solar activity graphic, a good link is:
  4. John, are you familiar with the Rimfrost website? Java applet with monthly and seasonal temp selection, CO2 concentrations from multiple sites, sunspots, linear and curve fits, etc. Fun!
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  5. Now that John has mentioned the graphics would look good on a billboard, I think it's time to see if getting a SkS graph on a billboard can be done.
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  6. While I have no idea how to do it, I'd love to see a visualisation of the 'fingerprints' of man made warming. Thank you for your efforts to date.
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  7. oops, scratch that- should have read your new book first - there it is! Thank you!
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    Response: The "Human Fingerprints on Climate Change" graphic is definitely coming - that was what I considered the most important graphic in the booklet although the feedback I'm getting from people is that everyone loves the cherry tree. It's just a tree! (sorry, don't know why that gets to me). When I add the "Human Fingerprints" graphic to the list of graphics, I also want to update the basic rebuttal of "It's not us" (with James' permission).
  8. John's book is out? Where can you get it?
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    Response: She means The Guide. My book (the paper version) doesn't come out till around April 2011 - the process of getting a real book published is glacial compared to online publishing.
  9. Thanks for all your hard work! Now we need to take action. To continue arguing about whether Global Warming is human induced is a distraction, and one I am sure the fossil fuel industry loves, because it serves to delay action and thus delay their reduction in profits. You recently recommended a book showing that the fossil fuel industry was using the same people to lead their campaign against taking action as was used to 'disprove' that tabacco smoking causes lung cancer, and that HFCs do not affect the ozone layer. These people are devoid of scruples. We know the science concerning CO2 and the greenhouse effect. It matters not whether the current level of CO2 was human in origin or caused by the ravenous bug blatter beast of Traal. What really matters is that we from now on do whatever we can to reduce CO2 emissions. We could shoot the aforementioned beast, if we can find it, but even if we do, we had better cut down on our production. To not take action is akin to refusing to steer round an iceberg on the basis that we humans did not make it.
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  10. This is a good move IMO. Florence Nightingale changed British hospitals as a result of one simple diagram (and a lot of campaigning).
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    Moderator Response: [Daniel Bailey] Changed links to hyperlinks.
  12. It's good to provide SVG versions of the graphs. This is the standard vector format for the Internet Age. I tried UniConvertor, on the WMF file. It works, but it loses the text of the graphs. Can you export to SVG from your application?
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    Response: I've added SVG format for each of the graphics. Looking at them in a browser looks a little dodgy but they come up okay in Coreldraw. Please let me know how they look for you.
  13. mbayer - John mentioned he prepares the graphs in Excel. I don't think Excel does SVG, though I believe there are add-on programs that will do it for you (SVGmaker comes up on a Google search, though I haven't looked any further than that).
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  14. I think Inkscape might convert pdf to SVG?? It's a free open source drawing package.
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  15. I think it'd be good to put chart 2 into units people understand for more visceral impact. A couple of options. Based on my calculations, the energy gain of the earth has been the equivalent of detonating 52 Million x 1 Megaton atomic bombs. That is 100 x 1 Megaton atomic bombs every hour, for the last 60 years. Another way of looking at it is that over 60 years, the planet has been warmed by the energy equivalent of 62x of the output all of the world's power plants (2010 power plants), operating for 60 years. DOE says total worldwide electricity generation in 2010 was 16,385 Billion Kwh. My calculations: 1 joule 0.0002778 watt hours 1.00E+21 joules 2.78E+17 watt hours 2.20E+23 Joules total earth energy gain 6.11E+16 KWh 60 years 525600 hours 1892160000 seconds 1.16E+11 kW net gain (assuming linear over 60 years) 1.6358E+13 Annual electrical energy production Kwh (per DOE) 1,867,351,598 Electrical power generation worldwide KW (average) 62.27 Energy gain of planet vs current electricity production 1 Megaton atomic bomb 4.184E+15 Joules 5.26E+07 Atomic bombs energy equivalent 1.00E+02 Atomic bombs every hour over 60 years
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  16. Or (thanks to ~~ 5.6 × 2003 estimated energy in world's total fossil fuel reserves (~~ 3.9×10^22 J )
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  17. This NOAA graph of CO2 and global temperature should be used more often when communicating to the public.
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  18. Original Post Perhaps John Cook could explain how it is possible for the temperature record to be broadly flat between 1950 and 1975 and the OHC content to rise to 80E21 Joules aro 1958 and disappear without trace by 1970 only to pop back to 80E21 by 1980? Given the huge thermal mass of the oceans - such rates of transfer are well nigh impossible - and do not fit with the generally increasing theoretical forcings from CO2GHG and elevated solar irradiance (since 1920 at least). If your answer is the 'Clean Air Act' please then explain why the IPCC charts show cooling from sulphates steadily increasing up to aro 1970 and then flatlining up to the present.
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  19. Hey Ken, I know OHC is a pet subject of yours, have you seen this?: ANTARCTIC MELTING AS DEEP OCEAN HEAT RISES It'll be an interesting read when it makes it's way into the peer-reviewed literature.
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    Moderator Response: Let's please try to keep discussion of science topics consolidated in threads where people will be able to find it. Discussion of ocean heat content should be moved to the appropriate thread (probably Oceans are cooling).
  20. Rob Painting #19 Maybe the author should compare notes with Josh Willis whose latest information was that there was not much warming in the deep oceans (less than 0.1W/sq.m). If there is a large amount of 'up and down welling' then you would expect that CO2 as well as heat would be transported and well mixed in a vast volume of water. Such vast mixing of CO2 would result in an infinitesimal change in pH (acidification). There are plenty of claims of significant acidification of the upper layers of the oceans which does not fit with large flows of water to the deep.
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    Moderator Response: Again, this is not the thread for discussion of ocean heat content. Any further off-topic comments may be deleted without warning.
  21. Very nice images. I'd like to see one illustrating time scales. When people say (correctly) that the climate has always changed, they seem to imagine that humans have been around to see multiple ice ages, sea level fluctuations, and 1000 ppm CO2 around 55 Myr BP. From our human time scale (one lifetime each) it's hard to grasp the difference between 1000 and 1,000,000 yrs, let alone imagine 55 Myrs. I remind people that civilization really only started with the invention of beer 10,000 yrs ago. So any climates before that are beyond human experience.
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  22. But when you're communicating science to a broad audience, your visuals need to contain just the bare minimum required to get the message across. Cram too much detail in there and your meaning can get lost in a sea of factoids. So often when I scratch around for good climate graphics to communicate the required message, I can't find anything simple enough and am forced I create my own." John, I'd hate to be the one to point out the fly in the ointment but there may arise an issue of authenticity. If we were to "redo" charts and graphs we will be accused of cooking (No pun intended.) the charts by our beloved 'skeptics'. I realize that our intent is not to convince the inconvincible 'skeptics' but we have to keep in mind that our target audience will be weighing both arguments and could, due to their ignorance, be easily sidetracked by spurious arguments. I personally would prefer, to the best extent possible, to keep charts, graphs, etc. in their original state and then explain to my target audience what they should focus on and what they could safely ignore.
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  23. John, a really useful hi-res graphic would be to expand the Wiki graph of the 400,00 year ice-cores which plot: temperature, (Milankovich) solar insolation at 65 degree latitude, CO2 and CH4 levels, and sea-levels - by (1) adding vertical and horizontal grid-lines, and (2) expanding the horizontal axis out four-fold (either by scrolling out sideways, or printing four separate A4 graphs as one per ice-age cycle, preferably in portrait format). The correspondence between temperature and greenhouse gases levels is striking, and provides vivid evidence of the greenhouse effect. However, this is somewhat lost in the current Wiki plot. Is anybody prepared to have a go at it? See Image: Vostok 420ky 4 curves insolation.jpg
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