Making climate data visualisation… well, more visual

Accessing relevant climate information has always been a challenge – for a start there is so much of it out there! But a bigger problem is that it has been static in nature – and to explore a range of climate variables it is necessary to look through a book of outputs (e.g. like the still widely used Sniffer Handbook of Climate Trends).

Recent years have seen rapid advances in data visualisation tools – and these are often geared up for the internet, even allowing embedding within existing websites and documents. Alongside this the design options have come along in leaps and bounds – and it is now possible to create attractive and effective data visualisation with relative ease. The Guardian: Data Blog has a collection that is quite inspiring.

trendstoolscressn

So what does this have to do with Adaptation Scotland and climate change? Well today we’ve released our first tool using Tableau Public – a tool for “Climate Trends for Scotland”. This uses data from the Met Office National Climate Information Centre to show Scottish climate trends over the last century – for a range of variables, regions, and averaging periods. Users of this tool can download images and interact with the underlying data (although we still recommend you go to the source if you want the data!). Usefully, Tableau Public allows anyone to embed a live version of this tool in their own website – and you are free to customise it if you want. So what comes next? This initial tool is useful as a destination page that allows people to explore the data – but I also intend to create ‘views’ that are better suited to embedding with text. We’ll use these when updating our website and in future Adaptation Scotland online documents (e.g. an updated public sector workbook). The future is interactive! And that’s not all – we’ve also been supporting Scotland’s Environment Web who is currently building a climate trends tool that will allow you unprecedented access to climate information for Scotland.

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