By Chris Mooney May 11
Ed Hawkins spends his days doing, you know, climate science. A professor at the University of Reading in the UK, he has published widely on the overturning circulation in the north Atlantic Ocean, as well as trends for sea ice in the Arctic and how to predict future temperatures, among other topics. And he contributed to the most recent mega-report of the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which everybody cites for pretty much everything in this area.
He’s now famous, though, for something quite different. This:
As of early Wednesday, the startling animation had been retweeted over 3,200 times, covered separately here in the Post and by many, many other outlets — our own Jason Samenow called it the “most compelling global warming visualization ever made” — and even used as an example of how the IPCC itself could improve its dreary and often faulted communications, in an interview with its new head, Hoesung Lee.
“I can’t quite believe it,” says Hawkins, who says that his university’s servers were “struggling a bit” Tuesday morning as large numbers of people were apparently watching the animation.
“It was just designed to try and communicate in a different way. As scientists I think we need to communicate, and try different things, and this was just one of those trials, and it has turned out very well,” Hawkins says. (He credits Jan Fuglestvedt, a fellow researcher at the University of Oslo, with suggesting the idea of a spiral to him).