What does a 1°C warmer world look like?

Global average temperature has risen by over 1°C since pre-industrial times, but the size of the change is not the same everywhere. The image below shows the temperature change observed in 5 individual years and for the 20-year average (2000-2019). For all of these examples the global average temperature was almost exactly +1°C warmer than the late 19th century.

In each individual year, the patterns can be quite different, with disparate regions of cooler and warmer temperatures. When averaging over 20-years, the overall pattern of warming is clearer: the Arctic is clearly warming much faster than the global average, and land areas are warming faster than ocean regions.

Notes: this graphic uses the Berkeley Earth temperature dataset and the regression approach of Hawkins et al. to estimate the climatological difference between 1850-1900 (as an approximate representation of pre-industrial times) and 1951-1980 (the standard reference period of Berkeley Earth).

4 thoughts on “What does a 1°C warmer world look like?

  1. Personally, I find global maps of warming to be of little use and nowhere near as impactful as your ‘barcode’ graphics – when a leading QC has one as his twitter banner, then you know you are on to something: https://twitter.com/JolyonMaugham

    Also, the global one degree warming figure I believe to be misleading since in many places, land temperatures have gone up by twice that in the past 40 years or so.
    I work on field aspects of CC adaptation and often, as in the case of Central America where I’ve done some work, the global maps are totally useless. And country maps for such places are often poor.

    Isn’t there a better, clearer way to show local warming authoritatively that is reasonably accurate (without huge pixels)? – I’d love to have that available, I need to show that one degree is a myth as far as land dwellers are concerned – especially for reports, webinars etc.

  2. Hello !
    I’m not a scientist but have an interest in the climate debate, It seems to me that many lay ppl. assume that a 1* global warming average doesn’t sound very much. What they don’t realize is that it is not an even distribution of energy and that it affects weather patterns in many varying ways in different parts of the globe.
    If scientists could explain to the masses that the increase in the intensity of global weather IE: storm cells and severe drought conditions, doesn’t simply double with every 1* of warming. I believe it it more similar to the hurricane scale where going from a category 3 to 4 is not simply a 1/3 increase in intensity or damage potential, but a doubling of a cat. 3 event.
    Not sure if this is correct but it seems logical to me.

  3. I was directed to this lovely website by my national meteorological institute (KNMI.nl).

    I would like to comment on the heating of the earth vs that of the poles. Imagine that you have 2 pans, 1 with cold water (poles), 1 with water being heated slowly(equator), next to each other. The cold and the hot “pan” would stay cold and hot compared to each other. Some heat would flow from the hot pan to the cold pan, but not a lot. Most of it would go into space.

    Now imagine that you put a thin blanket around these pans. Now both pans get a little warmer, but now also more of the warmth will flow from the hot to the cold pan. The thin blanket is like the greenhouse effect before industrialization.

    But what if you put a thicker blanket around the 2 pans(more greenhouse gases)? The result is that not only does the temperature of both pans together increase (global warming), but now the temperatures of both pans will come closer (global temperature homogenization). This obviously means that the cold pan will get much warmer than the average of both pans.

    The analogue for earth is that global warming due to additional greenhouse gases will not only warm up the whole planet, but it will homogenize the temperature as well, which heats up the poles much more as they are relatively cold (compared to the world average temperature).

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