The new climatic normality

Entry type: Single project

Country/area: Spain

Publishing organisation: Newtral.es

Organisation size: Small

Publication date: 2022-01-12

Language: Spanish

Authors: Adrián Maqueda, Cristina Pita da Veiga, Irene Larraz (coordination)


Newtral Data is the data visualization and analysis area of Newtral.es. We are a pioneer team in Spain working with artificial intelligence, and creating algorithms where journalists and engineers work together to design tools focused on journalism. In the team, we are journalists, engineers, programmers, and graphic designers who turn data into stories through different visual narratives, supported by graphics, illustrations, infographics, and other approaches to address current affairs. To do so, we use technology to automate some scraping and data analysis processes.

Project description:

Headlines of new temperature records, whether higher or lower, are becoming more and more frequent. At Newtral.es we have extracted daily data from all weather stations in Spain between 1991 and 2020 to analyze the daily thermal anomalies in 2021 and the increase in minimum temperature in that reference period throughout Spain, leading to increasingly frequent tropical nights.

Impact reached:

Showing how climate change is generating a ‘new normal’ is a challenge. Through powerful visualizations we try to show how we are living more and more tropical nights and the impact this has on daily lives. For achieving that, we did not simply rely on static visualizations but also included interactive visualizations in which readers can choose the data displayed and, in this way, the text information accompanying the graph also changes.

Techniques/technologies used:

In order to perform this work it was necessary to download daily data from hundreds of weather stations over several decades for further analysis. This includes all the stations available for the reference period 1991-2020 and they have been analyzed with R, Javascript, and D3, and the average peninsular temperature has been calculated using the data from the reference weather stations.

Context about the project:

2021 was the fifth warmest year worldwide since records have been kept, including the warmest summer ever in Europe, according to the findings of the Climate Change Service of Copernicus, the European Union’s earth observation program. NASA also concurs in these findings in its latest report, reflecting that “the last eight years are the eight warmest since modern records began.” But in Europe, the warmest year has also been the one that has recorded lower temperatures than the reference period in the first months of the year, until the arrival of summer, with examples such as Filomena, which marked the beginning of 2021 with a snowfall with historic temperatures in several parts of the country and placed January 12 as the coldest day of the year.

What can other journalists learn from this project?

We try to approach a complex subject with a great saturation of information in a simple way, providing visualizations that allow a quick understanding of the subject and to have the big picture, beyond the daily news. Just as we draw inspiration from many other sources, we hope this report serves as an example of how to show a complex subject in a simple way.

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