NASA Climate Spiral GIF Goes Viral

NASA Climate Spiral GIF Goes Viral

A recent GIF by NASA demonstrating the change in Earth’s temperature has gone viral and is shocking the internet. According to NASA, the “climate spiral” is a visualization designed by climate scientist Ed Hawkins from the National Centre for Atmospheric Science, University of Reading. By tracking the earth’s temperature from 1880 to 2021, the climate spiral demonstrates accelerated warming over the last couple of decades.

NASA: Climate Spiral, March 15, 2022.

Why This Matters

The GIF depicts the new reality of rising temperatures across the world. Over 400 weather stations worldwide reported new records in 2021. The US experienced its hottest December on record, with increased extreme weather, ice storms in Alaska, and a megadrought in the West. Experts warn of more extreme weather ahead due to human-caused ocean warming. The GIF also shows that global temperature rise is not uniform, mainly occurring in the Atlantic, Indian, and Northern Pacific Oceans.

The Economist: See what three degrees of global warming looks like, October 30, 2021.

What's Next: Baghdad

Iraq is one of the fastest-warming countries in the world, and its capital city Baghdad can expect to face 40 annual 120-degree days by 2040. Much of Baghdad’s warming is intensified by the urban heat island impact, where development eliminates green space and replaces it with heat-absorbing cement. The country is now grappling with how to respond to the rising temperatures and growing population, with some calling for urban planning more reminiscent of Iraq’s past.

TED: Mapping Urban Heat Islands | Tom DiLiberto, October 20, 2021.

BBC: Iraq's extreme heat and water shortages, October 24, 2021.

Bloomberg: ​​Extreme Heat in the Middle East, September 9, 2021.