[Vision2020] Realclimate.org 12-26-18: "Let’s check your temperature"

Ted Moffett starbliss at gmail.com
Thu Jan 3 17:54:30 PST 2019

Vision2020 Post: Ted Moffett
Info on the climatology app mentioned in the text below is at this website:

Let’s check your temperature

Rasmus E. Benestad

Filed under:

   - Climate Science
   - climate services
   - Communicating Climate
   - statistics
   - Supplemental data

— rasmus @ 26 December 2018

The underlying mission of my job is to safeguard lives and property through
climate change adaptation based on science. In other words, to help society
to prepare itself for risks connected with more extreme rainfall and

For many people, “climate” may seem to be an abstract concept. I have had
many conversations about climate, and then realised that people often have
different interpretations. In my mind, *climate* is the same as *weather
statistics* (which I realise can be quite abstract to many).

To avoid miscommunication, I want to make sure that we are on the same page
when I discuss climate. Maybe it helps if I talk about more familiar and
specific aspects, such as the temperature, rainfall, snow, or wind?

*Data, facts, and climate*
But I have a challenge because data and facts are often not valued and
engaging. This is a general problem when it comes to climate change, as
there are probably few other scientific disciplines that have shared more
data then the climate science community.

There is a bounty of sites that will give you access to free and open data,
however, the access does not necessarily mean that it’s easy make use of
the information embedded in the data. Often it requires a bit of work and
skills in order to download and visualize it.

For instance, there are some great web-portals, such as NASA/GISS
<https://data.giss.nasa.gov/gistemp/stdata/>, Global Historical Climate
Network (GHCN
and the KNMI ClimateExporer <https://climexp.knmi.nl/start.cgi>. These
portals are extremely useful for scientists and experts (they also give the
contrarians numbers on which to build their misconceived ideas), but they
may be too complicated for a lot of people.

There are also many stories about climate in the mass media these days, and
I have started to ignore many of these reports because they are not all
relevant. So, if climate is perceived as both an abstract concept and not
always relevant, then it’s a real challenge to engage people in the
question about climate change.

*See how rainfall and temperature have affected you*
On the other hand, people care about local issues where they live and have
a direct connection to their lives. So perhaps the message about climate
change is perceived as more relevant when people can see the historical
temperatures and rainfall near where they live?

Based on these thoughts, we wanted to try to make a simple app without
jargon, acronyms and technical terms that enables the (wo)man in the street
to explore the precipitation and temperature measured in her/his vicinity.

One intention with this app was to start with a simple overview picture of
the measured climate data. It is important not to overwhelm at first sight,
but let people understand the depth of the data once they start to explore

*The data is not perfect*
When viewing these data, it is important to be aware that there may be an
occasional error in the measurements, but showing the data and letting
people explore it may bring such errors to our attention.

You are also likely to come across some records with a misleading trend
estimate if you study the data, because there are some data records for
stations that have been relocated during the period of measurement, the
instrument has been replaced, or the observational practices has been

The Open Climate Data Prototype (OCDP), shown in the iFrame below, has been
designed for a project in Mozambique, but is being tested for Norway. We
wanted to experiment with ways to make the climate information more easily
available for people.

*An open and interactive app*
You can change the main settings of this app by clicking on the icon with
three horizontal lines in the top left corner, for instance to change the
region/country or the element. It also lets you study the metadata as well
as summary statistics.

The graphics is interactive, and there are three tabs showing different
aspects of the data. You can also explore daily, monthly, seasonal or
annual temperature or precipitation for a selection of locations in
different parts of the world (e.g. a selection from North America,
Australia, Eurasia, Africa, Asia).

*Similar projects*
After we developed this prototype, we realised that there was a similar app
called ACD-App
<https://sasscal-dwd-apps.github.io/ACD-App/en/documentation.html> (GitHub
<https://github.com/sasscal-dwd-apps/ACD-App>) of the Southern African
Science Service Centre for Climate Change and Adaptive Land Management (
SASSCAL). However, I don’t know if it is up and running as a web-based as

Both apps are developed in R <https://www.r-project.org/> and R-shiny
<https://shiny.rstudio.com/>, and can in principle run on a stand-alone
desktop/laptop as well as on a server. SASSCAL is a joint initiative of
Angola, Botswana, Namibia, South Africa, Zambia, and Germany in response to
the challenges of global change, and is highly relevant to our
capacity-building project in Mozambique.

*Know the past before you can know the future*
The study of past climatic variations and trends is necessary before we can
make projections for the future. The historical data provide us with
important clues about how different conditions interact, as well as being
the basis for model evaluation. They are also important for studying the
impact of local climate fluctuations on society, such as crop yields.

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