Visualization for Skeptics

Posted: December 8th, 2009 | Author: Manuel Lima | Filed under: Uncategorized |

*UPDATE* - The UK Met Office data was made available today: (scroll to the bottom) or direct link: (3.7MB). Here’s the corresponding station codes per country.

All our eyes are now set in Copenhagen, in what’s in my view one of the most important meetings ever held. Following the overhyped data fraud scandal, which is being targeted by many skeptics as the “Climategate”, the UK Met Office decided to make available the data for more than 1,000 weather stations from across the world, in order to hush divergent voices. The dataset, to be released this week, is the subset of stations evenly distributed across the globe and provides a “fair representation of changes in mean temperature on a global scale over land”, said the Met Office in a statement. “We are confident this subset will show that global average land temperatures have risen over the last 150 years.”

The data has not yet been made public, but once it does I will update this post. In case you cannot wait for this dataset, the group of scientists at have recently put together a cohesive list of datasources, from innumerous satellites and stations, on sea levels, sea temperature, surface temperature, aerosols, greenhouse gases, and many more. In a blog post announcing the list, the group states:

Much of the discussion in recent days has been motivated by the idea that climate science is somehow unfairly restricting access to raw data upon which scientific conclusions are based. This is a powerful meme and one that has clear resonance far beyond the people who are actually interested in analysing data themselves. However, many of the people raising this issue are not aware of what and how much data is actually available.

This represents a great momentum for all of us involved in Visualization at large to be part of the solution and deliver a clear unequivocal view on what’s happening with our planet. Regardless of how you label your practice, Information Visualization, Data Visualization, Information Design, Visual Analytics, or Information Graphics, this is ultimately a call for everyone dealing with the communication of information for human reasoning. Let’s roll up our sleeves!

6 Comments on “Visualization for Skeptics”

  1. 1 Bob said at 12:34 pm on December 8th, 2009:

    This is worth a look:

  2. 2 Jer Thorp said at 12:31 am on December 10th, 2009:

    Hi Manuel,

    Thanks for this. I agree with you that this is a very important project that could use some of our help.

    I wrote a post saying as much:

    And have also set up a makeshift forum where some of these things can be discussed:



  3. 3 Flinklabs said at 7:17 am on December 11th, 2009:

    We’ve just put up a visualisation based on the cleaned up data at Jer’s site.

    Source code etc. is available at

  4. 4 Robert Kosara said at 1:58 pm on December 11th, 2009:

    Thanks for posting the link to the data! I put together a little interactive visualization that lets you explore the data:

    I’m also working on a more in-depth analysis.

  5. 5 Antoine Bonnin said at 7:33 pm on December 11th, 2009:

    Great initiative, for some more inspiration Johann Hari has a great article on the current Copenhagen debacle:

  6. 6 dmk said at 12:13 am on December 12th, 2009:

    Dynamic Visualization of the East Anglia Climate Research Unit Email Network

    Check it out!

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