Here are some FAQs on the rousing Show Your Stripes visuals, which raise awareness of rising global temperatures.
What are the warming stripes and what do they show?
The ‘warming stripe’ graphics that you may have heard of and can see on this page are a way of visually showing long-term temperature trends, using data for over a century.
Each stripe or bar represents the temperature in that country, averaged over the year. For most countries, the stripes start in the year 1901 and finish in 2021.
For practically every country or region, the stripes turn from mainly blue (cooler than average) to mainly red (warmer than average), illustrating the rise in average temperatures in that country over more recent years.
To put it simply, this is the data to reach for when you want to show evidence for global warming.
Who’s responsible for developing the warming stripes?
The warming stripes have been developed by Professor Ed Hawkins MBE. Hawkins is a climate scientist in the National Centre for Atmospheric Science at the University of Reading. He is also a Lead Author for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change 6th Assessment Report.
He also leads Weather Rescue which is a series of citizen science projects involving thousands of volunteers. They focus on recovering Victorian-era weather observations from handwritten archives and turning them into digital data.
Where can I learn more about the warming stripes?
The warming stripes have their own website. There, you can also view the data in three additional ways, featuring extra axis labels or bar charts. The reason why the data is typically shown in the simplest way is to inspire conversation and understanding from those with minimal scientific knowledge. Here’s what one of the charts looks like with labels added.
That chart is for the earth as a whole but you can also generate the stripes and other charts for each country or continent on the website. The data for most countries comes from the Berkeley Earth temperature dataset, updated to the end of 2021. For some countries, the data has been obtained from the relevant national meteorological agency. Further information is available from the website’s FAQs.
How are the warming stripes being used?
Before the stripes, Prof. Hawkins developed an animated spiral graphic to help the general public to visualise climate change.
By Ed Hawkins, a climate scientist in the National Centre for Atmospheric Science at the University of Reading. - Spiralling global temperatures
The spiral graphic went somewhat viral and featured in the opening ceremony of the 2016 Summer Olympics.
Despite this, Prof. Hawkins was able to iterate the idea into the stripes design. The intuitive design key of blue equals cold and red equals warm and the data arranged in a left to right chronological progression meant it was easily understood. Making the graphic free meant it was quickly downloaded and spread virally. In June 2019, Prof Hawkins tweeted that they had been downloaded nearly a million times in their first week.
As the graphics spread, in September 2019 they were soon on the front pages of many esteemed publications (such as The Economist and the Guardian) and after obtaining permission from Prof Hawkins, we were pleased to make the graphic available to wear on sustainably produced organic cotton clothing.
Due to the strong association between the climate stripes and Reading (and the general crossover into the mainstream), it should be of no surprise that the city has found ways to celebrate the innovative design by incorporating it outside of the academic realm.
At the Reading music festival, the climate stripes were displayed on the big screen of the main stage by the Enter Shikari frontman, Rou Reynolds. The stripes have also made it onto the sleeves of the men’s and women's football teams from Reading.
Good to see the #ShowYourStripes movement get more prominence!— Pomp #followbackclimate (@POMP_MMXIX) August 10, 2022
If you're not a Reading fan (sorry, @ed_hawkins but we might favour an alternative team 😉), you can get simpler t-shirts here:https://t.co/qN1M1x9eP7
Profits fund our @MossyEarth subscription!#ClimateAction https://t.co/uDf53gqzCb
As the mainstream crossover has continued, there are more products (ties, facemasks, scarves, mugs and so on) bearing the design and these are often used by climate change activists to spur conversation and/or show solidarity with the cause. It may well be that the most popular item associated with the stripes is the new book from Greta Thunberg titled The Climate Book, which features the graphic on its cover.
The Warming Stripe graphics are openly available and free for any use which is one key reason why they have been so widely adopted as a symbol of our warming planet. #CCBY— Ed Hawkins (@ed_hawkins) October 28, 2022
Proud to have provided a bespoke version for @GretaThunberg’s book. https://t.co/SQkVUGBnK8
Where can I buy #ShowYourStripes merchandise?
To make things easy for you, we’ve grouped all of our #ShowYourStripes merchandise into a single collection available here.
To increase the impact of our operations at Pomp and your purchases, we use profits from sales of the #ShowYourStripes range to fund our membership at Mossy Earth. Our membership fees go towards reforestation projects (Mossy Earth plant trees on our behalf) as well as rewilding projects such as those described here.