How Hong Kong’s Weather is Getting Hotter and More Extreme by South China Morning Post

NASA registered 2016 and 2017 as the hottest years in Hong Kong’s history. On August 22, 2017, the mercury soared, measuring record temperatures of 36.6°C, making it the hottest day since 1884. This became the catalyst for the South China Morning Post’s infographic designer, Pablo Robles, to begin researching Hong Kong’s changing temperature patterns in his quest to discover if there was a correlation between the weather and energy consumption.
Over the last four decades, he discovered the weather in Hong Kong has not only become hotter overall, but the territory also experiences more extremes of hot and cold days every year. Robles manually analysed 133 years of monthly data registered and compiled by the Hong Kong Observatory. In order to visually represent this data Robles created a graphic comparing extreme temperatures to energy consumption.
Robles found the Hong Kong Environment Bureau had 47 years of energy consumption data. Gathering this information indicated parallel behavior between energy consumption and extremely hot months; in a city where air conditioning represents 34% of annual energy consumption.
A vertical, interactive path tracks the average temperature and energy consumption for each month. Lines represents months of the year with their thickness indicating the amount of energy consumed. The colour shows the average temperature with ranges between 12°C and 33°C.
Very hot and very cold days were indicated along with heat waves, cold fronts and other important events from the past 50 years. The hottest day of 1970 was compared to the hottest day of 2017, showing that energy consumption has increased more than tenfold.
This project was published on May 23, 2018, during a heat wave of ten consecutive days over 33°C and record highs of 38.6°C around the city.
The print and digital versions of this graphic visualise the same data in different ways with each utilising the unique advantages to the particular medium. The digital version for example uses interactive elements to compare very hot and cold days between years.