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.
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.
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.