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Striking animation by Finnish researcher shows history of climate change

A Finnish weather researcher's easy-to-understand animations about climate change are gaining more attention than ever before.

Kuvakaappaus Antti LIpposen Flickr-videosta.
Each red circle represents an above-average spike in each country's median annual temperature. Image: Antti Lipponen

Global climate change is showing no signs of slowing down anywhere in the world, according to special researcher Antti Lipponen from the Finnish Meteorological Institute. In his free time Lipponen helps people understand what's actually happening to the earth's climate by making animated shorts which he posts online.

So far, Lipponen has created two animated data visualisations about climate change – first in 2017 and most recently last week – showing the rapidly-increasing median heat spikes in countries across the world. In hyperspeed, his new animation shows how earth's climate has changed over the course of more than a century.

In just over half a minute, the animation shows global high and low temperatures over the period 1880 to 2017.

Spoiler alert: it's getting warmer.

Click the play arrow in the middle of the tweet below. Story continues after image.

People less critical

Lipponen's animations, which he creates as a hobby, are based on open data sets from US space agency NASA's satellite measurements. While many have praised his eye-opening work, some of his audience have also had a bone to pick with the visualisations.

"This time I haven't gotten as much criticism," Lipponen said. "I was really surprised and happy to see the Washington Post pick up my video."

Antti Lipponen.
Climate researcher Antti Lipponen. Image: Sakari Partanen / Yle

Last year Lipponen's email account and Twitter feed were bursting with people claiming he had doctored the data depicted in his original clip from August last year.

"These critics provided some random websites denying the information I used. Personally, I trust NASA's scientific, open and easily- accessible climate data."

With negative comments largely behind him just a year later, Lipponen said he feels optimistic.

"I don't know for sure, but it seems to me that awareness surrounding climate change has increased."

The animated timeline is colour-coded to show unusual dips in year-on-year temperatures (in blue) and unusual spikes (in red). Towards the end of the animation the screen increasingly throbs with red circles, and shows that the warming trend is a global one.

"It doesn't look as if climate change is slowing down at all," Lipponen said. "Quite the opposite: the planet has warmed extremely quickly in the past two decades."

By Thursday afternoon, Lipponen's video had already received nearly one million views, a number likely increased by various international media outlets picking up the clip.

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