NASA Animation: A Non-Bicycle Related Digression

I’m a geographer, so I love a good map visualization. I also work in the realm of “climate” and related topics as a graduate student. And I’m also concerned that climate is not even an “issue” in the current U.S. presidential campaign. So I am going out a limb here and posting non-bicycle related video. Well, it’s not directly bicycle related. But it is a good visualization, created by NASA, which shows 5-year surface temperature averages in degrees Celcius from 1880 – 2011. Ok, thanks. We will return to our regularly scheduled bicycle programing next time!

4 thoughts on “NASA Animation: A Non-Bicycle Related Digression”

  1. Cullen says:

    It’s startling how fast the temperature increases, in only a few decades, in the post-industrial world.

  2. Doubledee says:

    this animation on its own is problematic in that it gives an alarming impression without any caveats or conditions attached, such as urban heat island effect on huge percentages of temperature stations that were rural when set up but now are now in concrete and tar landscapes.. Also the context of our temperature needs placement here; it was warmer both one thousand and two thousand years ago; times which were very beneficial to humanity and ecosystems. Temperatures have been rising lately as we’re climbing out of a couple centuries that were the coldest in 10,000 years on earth as well. It’s complicated. Which temperature would be IDEAL for planet earth anyway?

    1. I agree that it is complicated. However, the graphic is not in any way misleading. It clearly states that it is depicting temperature anomalies (simply put, a departure from the average) for the period of 1880-2011 in 5-year increments. It provides no information on the 10,000 time scale you reference and doesn’t purport to either. The data is adjusted for urban influences (, such as heat islands. What is startling is the rapid increase as of late (within the measured time scale in the dataset – not the entire earth history). What the impacts of this present temperature increase mean, no one truly knows. But there is a pretty good agreement that some of it is human caused. The concept of an “ideal” temperature for earth is silly.

  3. doubledee says:

    Fair enough, it’s not misleading in its remit to cover the time it does. The urban heat effect corrections, however, are the subject of a pretty big to-do at the moment; for some reason NASA (led by shrill alarmism activist Hansen) adjusts the temperatures UPWARD from the urbanised temp stations, for one thing, but it’s a big brouhaha in any case. Yes, some of it is likely to be human-caused but how much is pure guess-work, and the rate of warming (which stopped 16 years ago, on a global scale) was not of any greater degree than we saw between 1870 and 1940 during non-02-rich human activity. Also, heating caused by our added C02 requires a ‘hot spot’ in the high atmosphere above the tropics which has failed to materialize. But none of these key dimensions fits well into short narratives and or fast adrenaline preferred by our media.

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