Daily tracking of summer heatwaves in every Spain region

Country/area: Spain

Organisation: elDiario.es

Organisation size: Big

Publication date: 28/07/2021

Credit: Victòria Oliveres, Raúl Sánchez, Raúl Rejón


Victòria Oliveres: Data journalist member of elDiario.es data team. She is specialized in data gathering, analysis and visualization and focused in education, health, environment and gender stories.



Raúl Sánchez:  Spanish data and investigative journalist covering stories of inequality, gender, corruption and (now) Covid at elDiario.es. He coordinates elDiario.es data team.

Raúl Rejón: Spanish journalist specialized in climate change, environent stories and agriculture at elDiario.es

Project description:

Due to climate change, the summer of 2021 was expected to be especially warm, as some of the more recent ones had been. Instead of waiting for the end of the hottest months, at elDiario.es we decided to monitor, in real time, maximum temperatures in all regional capitals to see if they deviated from the normal temperature. In our tracker we visualize, day by day, the highest temperatures and the differences from previous summers. This tracker also served as a support for other informative articles, such as an historical analysis of summer temperatures.

Impact reached:

This summer temperature records were broken in many Spanish regions and there was a heatwave in August. Thanks to having the temperature data monitored daily and the visualizations updated, we were able to report on all these historical events quickly (link 2).
In addition to those days with temperature spikes, the newsworthiness of the article lasted all summer. Among the public, the tool was useful to verify with data if their feelings of it being a hotter or colder summer than the previous one were real. With their own perceptions we wanted to raise awareness about the consequences of climate change in their city.

Techniques/technologies used:

For this project we built a database using records from AEMET’s (the Spanish meteorological agency) API. With R and RStudio we connected the API with our database and this with the visualizations. The graphics were made with Datawrapper and D3.js. We also included a text paragraph that changed daily with new data, coded using Javascript.  

What was the hardest part of this project?

The choice of the appropriate meteorological stations for this analysis was a fundamental part of the development of this project. Not all AEMET stations had both real-time and historical data, so we had to make cross-checks and ask experts which was the best option.
Coding the R script that linked the API data with the visualizations and our website was another important step. The development of this automated daily updating project opened new possibilities for the elDiario.es data team.

What can others learn from this project?

With this tool we show the importance of talking about weather not only for forecasts. We interpreted and visualized the daily temperature data so that the reader could understand whether or not what was happening was normal. In this way we brought climate change problems closer to their daily life.
It also showed that live data monitoring and visualization, widely used nowadays for the pandemic coverago, can be exported to other fields.

Project links: