Arctic Warming Smashes NASA's Temperature Charts

Posted by Ben Jervey

Over at Climate Sight, Kaitlin Alexander noticed something curious about the maps in NASA scientist James Hansen's latest study. Temperatures have gotten so warm in the Arctic that Hansen had to reset the scale, adding a new color to the legend. Check out the hot pink on this chart from "Perceptions of Climate Change" (PDF).

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Contrast those with the standard-issue NASA maps that haven't (yet?) been updated:

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No hot pink. And a pretty odd scale on the legend. As Alexander writes, "The legend goes up in small, smooth steps: a range of 0.3 C, 0.5 C, 1 C, 2 C. Then, suddenly, 6 or 7 C." She also notes, "Since very few people examine the legend beyond recognizing that red is warm and blue is cold, the current legend seems sort of misleading. Am I the only one who feels this way?"

Nope, you're not. I totally agree. The rest of NASA is certainly going to have to adopt Hansen's new scales. Maybe someone will make a case for a better color, though?

Hat tip to Christopher Mims