Analysis: Half the global population saw all-time record temperatures over past decade by Carbon Brief

More frequent and intense extreme heat is one of the major impacts of climate change.

To assess how the incidence of extreme heat has changed over time, Carbon Brief examined which regions experienced all-time daily heat records in each year since 1950.

Dr Zeke Hausfather, a climate scientist based in the US, produced the analysis to show that half the world’s population is living in regions that saw their hottest daily temperatures since 1950 during the past 10 years.

Carbon Brief’s audience includes prominent climate scientists, journalists and policy-makers, and so we were pleased to see organisations such as the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, representatives from the World Meteorological Organisation, and senior environment reporters share the analysis with their audiences on various channels.

I also wanted to extend the data and tell the human-impact of the heat extremes, to make the article more topical and relative to a general audience. We paired the data with UN population density data to create a series of maps that visualise the built-up areas where people have potentially experienced record maximum temperatures. The spike maps are produced with QGIS and three.js, and we highlight particular cities and heatwave events around the world in post-production using After Effects. The feature is built with Svelte.

There were challenges authenticating the record temperatures in different parts of the world due to inconsistent records, and as such, we were selective of the areas we chose to highlight. There were also technical challenges rendering some of the animations and ensuring the mobile version could display all of the graphical elements. I am pleased with how the stacked orthographic projections worked on mobile!