Temperature Baseline Differences

Climate Differences

Tableau started the beta of its Tableau Public program today, and what better way to kick the tires than to run some more climate data through it? Below, you can look at temperature data from 343 weather stations over twenty years (77172 obervations) to compare the difference from the baseline numbers in the 1970s and 2000s.

Tableau Public is in a closed beta right now, but a number of people were invited to try it out and post views. It will be free once it’s out, and it looks like a promising next step towards interactive visualization on the web. Since you get the full Tableau functionality, it’s also a great gateway drug to becoming a regular Tableau user (I am in no way affiliated with Tableau, but I use the program in my Visual Analytics class).

After the discussion about baseline data in previous postings, I decided to crunch some more numbers. The view below is a first start, though more can obviously be done. The map lets you pick one of the stations that have produced gapless data from 1969 to 1978 and 1999 to 2008, and for which a baseline is available (CSV file available here). These baselines were determined over the period from 1961 to 1990, so I chose a period of ten years that lies well within that range. The view below lets you compare those to the last ten years, to see how things have changed.

You can pick years for the left and right displays below the map to compare different years. While you can select any years you like, the idea is to compare years from the 70s to years from the 00s. Doing that, you will notice that while temperatures tended to vary around a difference of 0º from the baseline in the 1970s, they are now mostly above 0. It’s getting warmer.

Published by

Robert Kosara

Robert Kosara is Senior Research Scientist at Tableau Software, and formerly Associate Professor of Computer Science. His research focus is the communication of data using visualization. In addition to blogging, Robert also runs and tweets.

2 thoughts on “Temperature Baseline Differences”

  1. Interesting graphics etc.

    Your “It’s getting warmer” is not really a surprise, since it was the 1970s (when some people, including scientists but especially the popular media) were reporting on the threat of global cooling.

    I know the anomaly baseline only provides a relative key for comparison and previous commentators explain that whatever is chosen is arbitrary which is mathematically true, the psychology of seeing a graph with a straight baseline with anything deviating from it called an anomaly (Anomaly: DEVIATION OR DEPARTURE FROM THE NORMAL) is one of the many sleights of hand of the climate alarmists.

    When they can plot a rolling anomaly curve with 1998 El Nino +.3 and the current flatline on it, then they might be able call it an anomaly.

  2. The above single year 1969 compared to the single year 1999 is comparing weather years, not climate years.  The conclusion, “It’s getting warmer.” cannot be made based on the data selected.  Rather it can be observationally summarized that the year 1999 was warmer than the year 1969.  It is better for you to say that you have collected an observation and made a summary statement.  As this is only the first step in your scientific method, you have a long way to go before such a conclusion has you have postulated can be made.  Do you have an hypothesis as to why there is this difference between these two years?

Leave a Reply